Business Architects

By December 5, 2014blog

proud_business_architectI’ve had several conversations in the past couple weeks with entrepreneurs of established and growing companies about their role as a business architect. It went something like this:

Entrepreneur: “I’m frustrated that I’m the one who always needs to solve the bigger challenges or come up with the ideas for innovating for the customer. Why can’t my employees step up?”

Me: “Isn’t that YOUR job? Aren’t YOU the architect of your business?

Entrepreneur: “I guess so, but why do I feel so stressed at times?”

Me: “Because your business needs more architecting. And rather than embracing that challenge everyday, you’re hoping your employees will do it for you.”

Most entrepreneurs are first and foremost business architects, but they don’t know it or fully embrace it. At their best, they architect systems that make their products, services, pricing, and cultures better and better. I believe the role gets confused a lot of times with leading people. And there may be a sense of not being a good leader without  giving themselves enough credit for being an architect.

I chuckle when I hear people criticize successful entrepreneurs for not being good leaders. I’ve gotten that criticism too… and felt bad about it. Until I realized that I like, and am good at, being a business architect…  the kind that creates structures that enhance peoples lives so that I can be the introverted un-leader that I am, and read quietly in a corner by myself.

So my advice to entrepreneurs is to OWN it. Be the architect for your business. Be proud of it. Embrace it everyday. And love your employees for empowering you to do it. And nurture business architect thinking for others in your organization by trying open book management.


  • Hailey says:

    I love this post Bill. The reason why is as an employee who is following a visionary business architect while also working to build into my own managerial skills, conveying vision for optimal project execution has become a major focus. I tend to feel that my leadership really struggles with conveying the processes needed to actually achieve the desired end result. So I am working hard to jump in even if it gets a little messy along the way.

    As a leader, I’m also forcing myself to walk through a system from start to finish to be better at explaining scope to my team members. Baby stepping the process (though seemingly time consuming) is really helping my coworkers and I execute projects better and establish more cohesion from the start.

    We have so many tools now to convey ideas visually (screen shots, video, annotation software, shared documentation, chat, etc) that I’m finding it easier than I might think to remain creative while working out the problem areas which will achieve system optimization. But to get there, I’ve also learned to be a translator for the business architect in my life;)

    • Bill Flagg says:

      Great point Hailey! I’ve found that it takes special people/employees to understand and really support the business architect in me. Great to hear you get it!

  • Corey says:

    Great post, Bill. I appreciate the architecture analogy. We’re also the architect of our lives. Taking responsibility for building the life and business we want is imperative.

    • Bill Flagg says:

      Couldn’t agree more Corey. Focusing on architecting the important things into our personal lives rather than thinking someone else will do it for us!

  • Thank you for this. It gives me hope as a fledgling entrepreneur who loves business systems design and people, but has a hard time with the part of management that requires being a hard ass on occasion.

    • Bill Flagg says:

      Thanks Nick, while being an entrepreneur usually means trying to be a jack of all trades, it doesn’t mean we need to be good at EVERYTHING. I found it’s best to admit my strengths and weakness to people I work with so they can appreciate me for who I am and forgive me for who I am not. – Bill

Leave a Reply to Corey Cancel Reply