Of EAs and MBAs

Sunday, August 22, 2010 |

While we've been busy with our Entrepreneurial program over the past couple of weeks, it doesn't mean that we haven't been monitoring the topics du jour.  One of the more interesting threads being bounced around on Twitter is whether Enterprise Architects should have MBA training.  This thread started rather innocuously by the noted EA twitteratti Todd Biske:

"Should Enterprise Architects have/get an MBA?"
As is the case with such a philosophical point, it will have its adherents and detractors (here's a good primer from Mike Kavis).  Full disclosure - I'm a strong proponent of EA and MBA, for both communities, and not just because I've been armed with an MBA during my entire stint in Enterprise Architecture.

THE responsibility of, and often the biggest hurdle to, successful enterprise architect is to be a trusted advisor to both business divisions and IT divisions.  That means being able to speak many languages - that of the business strategy, business operations, metrics (including financials), technology strategy, and technology operations - in multiple areas of both business and technology, which often have their own dialects.  Without either formal education in business administration or a significant amount of time on the ground managing business strategy and operations, I have a hard time seeing an an enterprise architect appearing credible when discussing these topics.

This doesn't mean that people without MBA can't work in Enterprise Architecture, in fact actuarial background is just as good, if not better, than an MBA when it comes to understanding financials.  Nor does it imply that an MBA automatically allows someone unqualified with technology to be successful as enterprise architect.  At the end of the day, an EA must be credible as master of many trades, so I don't really see how an MBA would hurt that credibility.