As many people know, I find the term "business architect" problematic. Does a business architect truly design the business? If so, does that start with ideation?
Or, is the business architect more of an assessor? Analyzing the current design to suggest, or apply changes?
Or, is the business architect more of a recorder (archivist)? Capturing the current, future and transitional design aspects for use in operations, measurement, analysis and change initiatives?
Or, yes one more, is the business architect the "matcher" of business and technology capability? Discovering new opportunities or solutions to hard problems?
I know, "it depends". Thus, my problem with the term. The activities described above vary from high-level strategy to information management. Each is important. But, are they all done by Business Architects? I’ll skip the "are they all business architecture activities" question for now.
Instead, I’ll return to this post’s title: Business Architect circa 1925. In his book, The Prize, The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, Daniel Yergin recounts a 1925 conversation between Calouste Gulberkian and Walter Teagle on royalty compensation. During the exchange, Gulberkian takes offense at being called an "oil merchant":
"…Surely, Mr. Gulbenkian, you’re too good an oil merchant not to know that the property won’t stand any such rate as that."
"Gulbenkian’s face went red, and he furiously banged the table. "Young man! Young man!" he shouted. "Don’t you ever call me an oil merchant! I’m not an oil merchant and I’ll have you distinctly understand that!"
"Teagle was taken aback. "Well, Mr. Gulbenkian," he began again, "I apologize if I have offended you. I don’t know what to call you or how to classify you if you aren’t an oil merchant."
"I’ll tell you how I classify myself," the Armenian replied hotly. "I classify myself as a business architect. I design this company and that company. I designed this Turkish Petroleum Company and I made room for Deterding and I made a room for the French and I made a room for you." His fury was unabated. "Now, the three for you are trying to throw me out on my ass."
If Gulbenkian worked in your organization today, would he — the business designer — be right in his fury? Or, would he be an oil merchant, who is assisted by business architects, who record, analyze and/or help execute his design?
Me, I’m with Gulbenkian. Table pounding and all.