Success? What does it mean “being successful” as an Architect?


Gunnar Menzel

November 26, 2015

With the year drawing to an end one reflects back at 2015 and inevitably asks the question “so, what have I achieved? Have I been successful this year”?

It is of course not straight forward to define what “success” means in a role context as it related to personal as well as professions preferences. There is and can be no general definition for personal and professional success, as each of us has to define that for themselves.

However, there are a number of ways one can look at success. For instance, success can be related to accomplishments; on having been able to make an impact or even a lasting impact. On seeing others valuing what you have created / delivered; seeing your material appearing in other materials or having delivered a solution that makes a real difference. On having time with the Family whilst delivering an exciting and innovative solution.

For me “Success is to have the freedom to impact others whilst still having a quality family life; it is to spend my time focused on activities and material that I find both invigorating and challenging, motivating & inspiring others, whilst delivering daily ‘real, measurable and long lasting value.”

Others define it as (two examples I liked – thanks to a post[1] by Laura Gernett) :

“Success is not having to describe what’s been accomplished….others do it for you”
Deborah Hopkins, Chief Innovation Officer, Citibank

“I define success as living my true purpose and having a positive impact on the lives of people by uplifting them and inspiring them to think and act in ways that they may not have considered before.”
Raj Sisodia, Professor at Babson College

Success, accomplishments and skills go hand in glove together, and rather defining success we will provide more guidance on the skills aspects.

Focusing back onto a profession context, being a success Architect can mean that he/she

  • Is master in all skills areas
  • Has significant impact in / during pre-sales, general pre-project, project delivery or delivery  engagements
  • Is seen internally and externally as a thought leader and
  • Has fun to enthuse and motivate others.

Being a bit more specific, success comes from past delivery / impact and it is possible to provide some guidelines on what impacts are important (high level)

  1. Pre-Project  : Offers sold
  2. Project Delivery : Functional and non-functional compliance, client satisfaction
  3. Service Delivery : SLA and KPI compliance, client satisfaction and,
  4. Innovation : Number of POV[2] issued, nr of external papers, KLOUT[3] nr, etc

There is no silver bullet that provides a complete, correct and comprehensive answer. As outlined above it depends on the personal perception on what success means to an individual that will drive the activities need to achieve success. However as a general suggestion here are some ideas and suggestions that might help to devise a plan to achieve success.

  1. Understand
  • Gain sector knowledge
  • Gain technical knowledge
  • Ascertain stakeholder knowledge
  • Understand how you can drive value
  • Understand the value you provide
  1. Develop
  • Continue to develop sector & technical knowledge
  • Develop your soft skills
  • Develop a unique selling point – something you are/can be  famous for
  • Understand where you want to be in 2-3 years – what role would you like to execute
  • Develop a plan to get you ther
  1. Deliver
  • Deliver real impact
  • Work with other internal Teams
  • Work with the Community
  • Focus on quality and deliver against / above expectations
  • Identify a buddy / mentor / friend
  • Get certified
  • Use training to increase skills and impact
  • Keep up with developments in IT

Again, these are not complete, nor should these steps seen as the final answer. If you want to “be more successful” you must work with your reviewer, mentor, line manager, wife, friend to validate and agree all necessary actions – incl training etc. Do not attempt this on your own.

Why? Because you need a 360 degree view from others to help you to understand what is needed to change / to improve or to further focus on. For me in particular discussing, agreeing and detailing my view on success and the steps to take me there, has to be done with my wife and my kids.

Without the support of my Family and invaluable suggestions I cannot find an easy way through (I know they are reading this so I hope they would agree…) – success is a Team Sport.

Thanks for Reading!


[2] POV : Point Of View

[3] KLOUT: online service that measures a person’s online impact profile ( 


This article was written by Gunnar Menzel from CapGemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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