For years, I advised heads of Enterprise Architecture functions on how to create effective roadmaps. If you don’t know what EA it, it is basically a way to understand and document how the organization operates so that you can map out how it can or should operate optimally. Then, your goal is to slowly move toward the best way of operating, which reduces how much it costs to run your business, improves the productivity of your staff, and even helps you generate more revenue. It is very popular to have EA functions within IT, as IT systems become very complex and require an organized effort to keep the portfolio working together well as a whole and minimize their costs.
While Enterprise Architecture is a complex, advanced field to understand, I used to joke that it was the easiest to learn the basics of because it consists of just three things:
For any kind of architecture, you just need to document those three things well to succeed. Business architecture? Document how your business currently operates, how it optimally should operate, and how you’re going to transition between the two states. IT architecture? Map your current systems, identify the optimal portfolio, and then create roadmap to migrate your systems and data from the current to target systems. Every type of architecture followed the same approach.
One day, I was wondering, “Why isn’t there such thing as a ‘Life Architecture’ framework?” It seems like an easy thing to build out just like business architecture does for business processes or IT architecture does for systems. It works the exact same way:
With an understanding of these three things, you could begin to understand the progress you need to make to reach your goals and then take the first steps.
Yes, Enterprise Architecture (or any form of architecture, such as building architecture) is a very complex field with processes and techniques that take years to master. Similarly, your life is very complex and involves many conflicts, trade offs, and uncertainties that would take you a long time to sort out. Your first attempt at identifying your goals and first steps will not be 100% accurate, and—even if it was—your roadmap would change pretty frequently, anyway. “Winging it” without a plan, however, is riskier than having a plan that changes. There’s no better time than now to start your own Life Architecture Roadmap and work toward your desired future state.
If you have never written down what you want in life, try it. You will find out quickly that when you define what you want, you will begin to notice opportunities to move in that direction. Scientists call this priming, which is just a technical term for being more likely to see something after you have recently thought about it. Take time to list ideas that you could pursue to get to your future state, then when you feel like you know the path you want to take, document that roadmap. Revisit it every few months (or weeks or days if conditions change quickly/radically) and adjust as necessary.
All great successes started somewhere, had a goal, and then made progress through effort. Creating a plan makes these successes more likely to happen and can accelerate progress toward those goals. Create your Life Architecture Roadmap and see where it takes you. You can always change it, but you’ll never put together your best effort without a complete understanding of where you want to go and what you can do to get there.