Using Baby Steps To Climb Mount TOGAF

A few years ago, in the place I used to work, the company used to go out for drinks after work on Thursdays. One Thursday we were out, and a friend of mine said he was interested in learning TOGAF.

TOGAF? What’s that?“, I replied.

And that’s how it started for me. When I went home, I did some research. TOGAF was a certification for architects. I was immediately excited by the idea of being certified for being an architect, as the idea that you could had not even crossed my mind before then. I’ve taken several certifications in the past – Microsoft Developer, Sun Java (back when there was a Sun Microsystems), and others. Being certified for TOGAF actually sounded like a great opportunity to learn, and a good career move. So I set it as a goal.

Opening the specification for the first time was a bit intimidating. The TOGAF 9.1 spec does not do a great job telling you what it is and introducing people to the subject of enterprise architecture. It just starts, and each paragraph is sometimes vague and unclear. It was not going to be easy.

And maybe, quite possibly, this is where you are. You see this subject, it looks interesting, something you think will help you do your job and open new opportunities in the future. You’ve bought my course (or haven’t) but what now? How do you go from where you are to where you want to be?

I’ve found in my life that you need to take things slowly sometimes. You cannot climb Mount Everest in a single day. You climb a big mountain by going from one base camp to the next, and take some time to rest and get acclimated at each stop. It actually usually takes around TWO MONTHS to climb Everest (normally arriving in March, and reaching the summit in May). Maybe you can climb Mount TOGAF in under two months, but you need to understand when you start that it’s not an overnight thing, or something that can be conquered in one week. Setting expectations is important.

So how do you reach the top of Mount TOGAF if you are currently standing at the very bottom?

For me, it was doing a little bit of studying each day. If you set aside even 30 minutes or 1 hour per day to understand a little bit more about TOGAF, you will have made a little progress towards your goal. Set a plan. And stick to it no matter what.

Do you understand what the TOGAF definition of enterprise is? Good. Do you understand what the TOGAF definition of architecture is? Good. Do you understand the objectives of the Preliminary Phase of the ADM? Good. Just keep making a little progress each day. Only one lightbulb needs to go off for a study session to be productive. Just do a little bit each day, and after a week you will be a few meters up the mountain. And after two weeks, you might be half-way up the mountain.

The worst thing you can do is put it off. Someday. If you go significant periods without looking at it, you might as well not do it. You can’t climb Mount TOGAF by only climbing once every two weeks. You need daily progress. And if you must miss a day, get back to it immediately the next day.

If you want to get the occasional email from me about TOGAF and architecture topics, I invite you to join my mailing list. You’ll get a special study guide containing the key TOGAF definitions free just for signing up.