Enterprise decision-makers and architects

This post is inspired by some interactions I’ve been having with the enterprise architect community, primarily at this LinkedIn group . There are ongoing debates about how to define what it is that enterprise architects do, what the purpose of enterprise architecture is, and how to explain it to decision-makers.
 
I find myself thinking about the key roles here.  A lot of the statements make it sound like enterprise architecture (EA) is indispensable to the success of the enterprise, and that it supports and reflects the decisions made at the enterprise level.  Some seem to indicate that business decisions are actually made by the enterprise architects themselves.  I am all in favor of enterprise architects who are deeply immersed in their enterprise, but I take these claims with a grain of salt.  Somehow I do not feel that the business decision-makers of the world are reading and participating in enterprise architecture forums and communities.
 
What is there to be said about roles, then?  Well, speaking directly to the enterprise architects, it is clear to me is that the contribution you make is bringing an architectural perspective to thinking about all aspects of business.  In a well-balanced EA the IT aspect is present, but not emphasized over other business concerns.  The architectural perspective is based on clear thinking about structures and forces, and how various initiatives can help the enterprise manage those forces and structures.  This is valuable thinking.  Rare and valuable.  Any CEO should find it valuable in addition to all the other things they have to worry about.  An enlightened CEO would appreciate the clarifying function of rigor, and seek out those that can provide such.
 
At the same time, dear architects, I don’t believe that you really want to be in the shoes of the CEO.  You care about clear thought, logic, structures, patterns, and models.  You really don’t want to be that Type A guy or gal, with their club membership and a set of clubs at the ready in the McLaren Roadster. Making decisions about mergers and acquisitions, territorial expansion, product-service mix and pricing, etc. with the Chairman of the Board overlooking the proceedings with a jaundiced glare. A person like that, however, might appreciate a dedicated thinker with powerful tools and experience in applying a rigorous thought process.
 
One thing that confuses this issue is that people often talk about the CEO, or at least the founder, as being the “architect of the business”.  This could be said about Bill Gates for instance, “the architect of Microsoft”, and it would certainly be a fair use of that language.  I also know that Microsoft has enterprise architecture work going on, well represented by a participant on this LinkedIn group.  From all indications it is high quality, useful, and practical work, which supports the founders and leaders of the enterprise.
 
A CIO might appreciate this too.  That is, the expert in thinking tools and rigorous thought processes might be valuable alongside holders of power, in whatever role in whatever enterprise.  The tools and processes need to be adaptable to the issues of the domain in question.
 
I think what I am doing is playing cheerleader to any efforts to join up the C-Suite with good thinking in EA, while recognizing the unique skills and knowledge of various role-players, in synergy.  Good to see bright spots where this is already happening.  And not just in EA, but in other systems-thinking disciplines, as well.