Chief Architect Officer – The role of the innovators

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses, especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

I was convinced that I would become an Architect since I was little. I loved how they created beautiful structures with a strong purpose out of nothing, just from the ground.

But my father was an architect and he advised me that in Spain, the construction bubble would eventually explode and working as an architect wouldn’t be great anymore. So I studied Industrial Engineering, joining the club of the “frustrated architects”. 😉

But, hey, hold on !!! I soon discovered that as an Engineer, I could work as a Business Consultant, which is a mixture of a Doctor and an Architect, diagnosing where the issues in a company came from and how to build processes, organizations and tools that eventually could make things get better for those corporations.

Just talking about Architecture, I remember my father saying that the most complicated work when building is designing effective joints. No matter how well designed your construction is, if you are not able to plan successful joints between different elements of the building, soon water would penetrate, or cracking on the surface would happen.

And the same principle applies to many other areas in life:

  • Athletes often get their joints injured (e.g. knee, elbow, wrist, ankle).
  • Oxidation always happens first on the welding area of two metal sections.
  • Transmission bands were among the first severe damages in old cars.
  • Water always becomes turbulent when two streams join (e.g. two rivers).
  • Infections penetrate through open wounds.

Same as in life, any business is also affected by the laws of physics. Areas where two colliding forces join, are always the weakest:

  • Strategy execution often fails when middle management is not skilled, knowledgeable or empowered to transmit the vision from C-level to the workforce.
  • In mergers and acquisitions, when two different business cultures collide, chances are high that the new corporation won’t end up beautifully.
  • Silos and divisions between different business units are normally driving overall corporate failure.
  • Integrations and interfaces are the weakest elements in any IT systems project.

In these circumstances, I’ve always seen Innovators as “architects building bridges and removing borders”. They connect the dots, they make people from different disciplines work together, they hack siloed cultures, they break barriers, they bring together knowledge from different areas, they connect with the external ecosystem, they remove friction here and there.

Most of the worldwide challenges ahead are also a matter of how to manage potentially painful transitions, how to remove borders and build effective joins or elegant bridges. COVID has accelerated many paradigmatic changes, but underlying issue of how to solve transitions is still there:

  • Energetic Transition is about how to make affordable and plausible the renewable sources while avoiding a sharp decline in traditional energies that could damage economies and leave them without time to adapt to the new normal.
  • Autonomous vehicles biggest challenge is how to make standard cars and unmanned automobiles coexist while the transition happens.
  • Hybrid workplaces and new ways of working success will very much depend on how effective connection and collaboration between colleagues is wired.

Successful companies will be those that will manage change by embracing ecosystems (customers, suppliers, distributors, competitors, government agencies,…), building bridges between different  geographies, teams and cultures.

The innovators will be the new “Chief Architect Officers”, but instead of using bricks and mortar, they will use knowledge and talent.

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