A Trace in the Sand
Online Architecture Journal by Ruth Malan
I also write at:
Trace in the
- Expect You Can
7/1/08 You Read My Mind!
So, a sunflower for you. Welcome back!
7/1/08 Going Undercover
In my journal I've faced a tension between forming my own thoughts and providing value to a hopefully growing audience. From a business development perspective, it is important to create a "Ruth Malan" that is a persona, to counterbalance the "Dana Bredemeyer" persona when clients are scheduling work with us for the first time. In developing that persona, I have to consider whether I want broad name recognition, or to appeal to the set of architects who I most like to work with. Personally, I lean toward appealing to architects who encounter life in a multidimensional way, for that is what I value. So, on the one hand, I want to "show up," be real and interesting. But I like to help architects who seek to be great by leading the creation of great systems in a world where that takes technical ingenuity and creative talent, and also strategy, organizational effectiveness and leadership skills. I recognize that to get to help some, I have to be in the namespace of many. So, broadening the awareness of my site is a consideration I can't simply sweep aside. Making my journal more palatably pared down is therefore a consideration I have to weigh.
So, my plan is to fork my journal; in principle, it means I'll mirror selected entries from this "insider" forum and edit them down for the public forum. Hopefully that will broaden the appeal of the public-facing journal by being both more brief and less personal. That way, I accomplish my goal of having a place to work over some of my thinking on architects architecting architecture, and still have a place to put entries that seem to merit a broader audience among architects. Hopefully that'll provide a forum people are willing to link to, on the one hand, and on the other, a forum that a select few are intrigued to read because it is ... a peek inside my head—which is only at all interesting because it is a pretty good amalgam of other people's great thinking!
In principle. Of course, I always intend to pull out pieces from my journal, and work them over to create an essay to post on my blog. But too often I don't have the stamina to rehash my own thinking and want to romp over new turf. Yes, the bias towards adding new features rather than refactoring is just as much there for writing sentences as lines of code. So... time will tell.
[5/11/09: I decided to eliminate the "pared down" branch of my journal as it was more to maintain and everyone that "followed" my journal regularly was reading the "undercover" version anyway. No-one was recommending the summary surface version, nor the "undercover" version, so it wasn't my wordiness that was their hold-back. It was... just me! Sigh.]
7/1/08 Honesty, from Multiple Perspectives
Our dog ate Dana's iPod earphones. Apparently the kids thought this was a crime worthy of (unprecedented) dire punishment, for, fearing for her "life," they hid the remaining evidence in the trash. When I saw the bits of wire they'd missed, and wondered what it was from, the kids feigned no knowledge, which prompted further investigation... The dog was saved, but for punishment, Dana had Ryan and Sara each write an essay on the topic of honesty. I'm not so sure one wants to cement in the notion that essays are a form of punishment (Ryan is already too susceptible to that notion), but the result (on the right) was quite delightful! Ryan, who has a flair for drama (and minimalist statement), wrote his essay on a roll of paper, like a scroll, so it is now a poster on our office wall; a reminder that honesty, perspective, and a sense of humor, are important.
This recognition that any event may be seen, and rationalized, from various perspectives is important. As is the ability to put oneself through the exercise of looking at a problem from various perspectives. Of course, one wants to interview stakeholders themselves where this can be done, but standing in as a proxy for them is a useful thing to do. Certainly it was useful for the dog, who couldn't speak for herself and explain why the earphones on the kitchen table looked so tantalizing.
7/3/08 Architectural Style Revisited
Prompted by Paul Clements, I've tried to get to
a more crisp characterization of how I view architectural style.
Loosely, patterns are things and styles are collections of these and
other things. Both are recurring forms, but patterns articulate
design facets, design nuggets, aspects of a design. Some might say,
"oh, so by architectural style you mean a pattern language?" And no,
I don't, because I believe there are other peer constructs to
patterns that we ought to have in our design language. Since I
distinguish style from genre, on one hand, and from pattern, on the
other, the need to clarify the terminology soup just spreads! Here's
my current shot:
7/4/08 Happy Independence Day!
Yes, that's Bath Abbey. Gothic architectural style, and the US flag!
I've promised Cutter an Executive Report on Innovation and Architecture, due mid-August. So, that will be good part of my focus these next few weeks.
'from Gartner Group's 2008 Worldwide Survey of CIOs – 85 percent of CIOs are now looking toward "IT to make the difference in their enterprise strategy."'
Tony Bishop, Innovation through IT Architecture, The Real Time Enterprise blog, June 2, 2008
Ferreting, these caught my eye:
7/6/08 Why Scale Incrementally?
I was thinking about how Ebay, Amazon, Facebook, etc. architects emphasize the need for scaling though commodity hardware but don't talk about why. Of course, a moment's thought and two alternatives are possible:
Do the architects not talk about this because they think it is not interesting or relevant to their technical audience? Or just obvious? Context is important. We may "hold these truths to be self-evident," but we still need to position our technical decisions in terms of the economics of the business we serve. Because other considerations and decisions hinge on this shared context, and we need to be sure it really is shared.
If you can attract and hire the best developers, you can take a more complex development path. Then you're trading off development complexity and associated higher demands on capability against infrastructure cost.
7/6/08 Books, Books, Books
7/7/08 Nudging Architects
"Based on the title, you might assume that [Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness] is a self-help book. It is not. It is treatise on the importance of building into products and services “nudges” that help people make decisions that best serve their needs. Products and services require people to make decisions and—intentionally or not—the way the experience is designed pushes (or “nudges”) people in a particular direction. ... Thaler and Sunstein explain the omnipresence of choice architecture and how it works, then go on to argue that, because it exists, whether planned or not, we ought to design choice architectures that make it as easy as possible to make choices that meet people’s needs."
Stephen Few, Nudge me tender, nudge me true blog post, June 16, 2008
I don't think this is just for usability designers and architects responsible for the presentation layer! So, yet another book to read! Right below the post just referred to, Stephen Few has a post on "the brain's spam filter." Teasing out what is essential from what is noise is indeed critical! Helping customers and users do that can be a "delight" factor that differentiates and creates strong brand identity. But further, system design is not just about screen design, it is about how the system supports (or inhibits/frustrates) work. Pushing our thinking beyond drop-downs and mouse-click sequence, and thinking about how to enable good choices (in the users favor, not manipulating a Machiavellian agenda) systematically can (should?) be an area of architectural contribution.
In our industry, we've had our anxieties about losing jobs to off-shoring, but the big job loss our industry has been responsible for is the digitization of work, the movement of jobs not offshore but to silicon! The frontiers of manufacturing automation are ever being pushed, and I've read that Japan has more aggressively embraced robotics even in domestic and personal care. At any rate, as we digitize work, we should see it as an ethical imperative to consider what choices we are eliminating, what choices we are obscuring and what choices we are directing attention toward versus away from.
7/7/08 Evolutionary Design: The Brain!
Here's a tidbit along the lines of piecemeal growth, by way of Stephen Few's blog:
... neuroscientist David Linden counters the widespread assumption that the brain is a paragon of design—and in its place gives us a compelling explanation of how the brain’s serendipitous evolution has resulted in nothing short of our humanity. A guide to the strange and often illogical world of neural function, The Accidental Mind shows how the brain is not an optimized, general-purpose problem-solving machine, but rather a weird agglomeration of ad-hoc solutions that have been piled on through millions of years of evolutionary history…With forays into evolutionary biology, this analysis of mental function answers some of our most common questions about how we’ve come to be who we are.
front flap, The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God, by David Linden, 2007.
People are often leery of stating their agenda, especially if it touches on being a personal agenda. In our Stakeholder Profiles template, we have added an explicit area for personal goals (splitting business goals into business and personal goals). It is still hard to get architects and engineers to go there—to state their own, or to ask their interviewee about their personal goals. (No, we don't ask "So, what's your real agenda?" but "what would you like to accomplish or be able to do?" and navigate to the personal goals, not just the official, public business role-related goals). Yes, we will need to abstract from individual's personal goals to derive system vision elements and system requirements. But that is after we get a sense of the value "sweet spot," and the outliers that could have an impact on risk or opportunity.
Marketing analytics and management decision support have had a sexy re-incarnation as "Business Intelligence." If you've been tagged "BI architect" (I like the double entendre in tag) and you're trying to figure out what that means you ought to do, I'd say start neighboring with your marketing folk, not just your data warehouse folk. Some of the best end user programming is in marketing spreadsheets, and they may be leery of an IT incursion. So, what is their agenda, and how do you support it?
7/7/08 Shiny Golden Carrots!
Mailing list signups on the Bredemeyer Resources for Architects site are up. The comment field is still usually blank, but interestingly, the number bearing a rewarding comment have increased from 1 or 2 a year to 1 or 2 a month! This just in from Shibi:
"I'm very much impressed by your site and the way you help the technology community. I appreciate your effort to train, share information, provide guidelines to upcoming software architects like me."
It has occurred to me that, since I don't have an explicit comment feature, it might be nice to add a "guest book" to this site, to enable visitors to publish a comment on this journal if they wish. (The idea comes from Alan Inglis.) Of course, the biggest reason not to, is the likelihood of an empty guestbook! Since I can't let that stop me, here's the guest book [I removed the link--the spam:comments ratio was something like 100:0; feel free to email comments; the email address indicated in footer to each page]! As long as my ego is all that is at stake, I'm happy to take some risks! Interacting with Paul Clements over the definition of architectural style, I told Paul:
I'm willing to "be the first penguin," translating from Randy Pausch's "be willing to fail big" to "be willing to be spectacularly wrong sometimes," for how else do we break the ceilings of our own perceptions?
But in truth, I'd rather not appear spectacularly foolish, so it is up to you to make sure I look good. You are my teachers and my feedback loop on my life (or 15 years of it) of service to architects.
Along the lines of "be careful what you wish for," I got pithy feedback on my "going professional" (now titled "paring it down") announcement to this effect: "So where's your Software Architecture Action Guide book?" I get the point (ouch)—a quick route to being in the namespace of many is to let the publishing company and book sellers do the marketing. Still, I've long had the orientation that freely distributing valuable content via the internet is the way to go. As a result of my belief that freely sharing useful content will create goodwill that goes around, the Resources for Software Architects website gets some 1,600 unique visitors per day. But, compare that to the 1,200 unique visitors per month to this site. The number is growing, but slowly, at about 100 a month. So far, very few sites link here (save for the sites I write, and Cutter's author's list), and that concerns me.
I like to think there are people out there who get value from my writing, but it is egotistical to expect them to put up with the chaff to get the odd kernels of wisdom. I think it is pragmatic to recognize that for the average busy architect, a smattering of pointers and short essays is good, but a barrage is attention overload. So I realize I need to be careful to distinguish between what attracts me, and what is more generally interesting, for then I can leverage what I do for my own development into something that may appeal more broadly. We'll see over the coming months if a more carefully selective public face to my journal puts it on a path to more visitors and more recommendations. So, I'll just plan to re-plan in a few months.
And the Software Architecture Action Guide is on my plan. I just get myself into these interim commitments that consume attention. Right now, it is the Architecture and Innovation executive report for Cutter.
7/7/08 Innovation Factoids and Pointers
Notes from Enterprise Architecture and Innovation, Mike Gilpin of Forrester on YouTube, Feb 7, 2008
EA is at the intersection of technology and business, and enterprise architects are already respected leaders of technology-based innovation, so enterprise architects are in a unique position to help enterprise pull 3 levers of innovation, namely talent, environment and process. Building an innovation pipeline: understand the innovation context, assets, capabilities and talent and around that build innovation network with partners and suppliers.
Notes from CEO Success Imperatives, George Colony of Forrester on YouTube, June 29, 2008
George Colony asked a number of CEO's: "What do you have to do to be successful?" These are the themes that emerged from his interviews with CEO's:
So, these are the 7 success imperatives which occurred over and over with CEO's, but one thing is missing. What surprises you because it's not on the above list? IT/technology is not on the list! Compare your success imperatives with these CEO imperatives and how closely does it match up? Does your list enable this list? To move forward, go back to your CEO and ask what are her/his success imperatives (SIs)? What is she/he trying to get done? The SI's of CIOs and architects must have clear line to the SI's of their CEOs.
Colony recommends the book: Here comes everybody
7/8/08 Innovation and Architecture Executive Report Outline
Here's the outline for the report I'm writing:
It sounds great doesn't it? I just wish I knew what to write! Just kidding! My head is buzzing with ideas and experiences, but it's also a chance to scan back over the innovation fallout this year. We have some clients whose execs are already at the "been there, done that" point of the cyclic love-affair with innovation, and others who are just tuning in.
7/8/08 Scalability by Design
7/8/08 The Innovation Agenda: Innovation Cycles and Why Innovation Matters
"Every few years, innovation resurfaces as a prime focus of growth strategies. And when it does, companies repeat the mistakes they made the last time."
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, "Innovation: The Classic Traps," Harvard Business Review, November 2006
7/8/08 Upcoming Workshops
We are working on the Fall schedule, and these two dates are set:
We'll announce the next open enrollment EA workshop soon.
So, it is up to you to spread the excitement! It'd be great if we could get a significant proportion of Software Architecture Workshop "alumni" together for the Architectural Leadership Workshop, and do some extended days with lessons learned, work on stretch development goals, and so forth. That'd be so cool!
7/9/08 Top CEO Concerns
Source: The Conference Board CEO Study October 4, 2007
7/9/08 Top Director Concerns
The top concerns of US corporate directors were as follows:
'NACD President and CEO Ken Daly said, "Strategy took a back seat over the past few years as boards grappled with volatile markets, shareholder pressure and regulations, but directors recognize the need to focus on the longer-term as indicated by their top three issues to be addressed."'
7/9/08 Hungry for Change, Wildly Imaginative, Disruptive by Nature...
"Hungry for change. Wildly imaginative. Disruptive by nature. Totally wired to the people who matter most. To some people, this might sound like your average teenager. In fact, these are the qualities companies will need to thrive in the near future, according to our newest CEO study."
Global CEO Study: The Enterprise of the Future, IBM, May 5, 2008
CEOs said they will increase investments 25 percent over the next three years to better understand socially minded customers, which chief executives identified as the fastest-growing trend.
Innovation and technology may not always be the headliner concerns of the top exec, but innovation is key to the differentiation equation, and technology factors strongly into that equation. Architects, the bridge-builders between the business and technology, customers and technology-driven capability, need to be brought center-stage to make innovation a practice rather than happy accident.
7/9/08 Now Aren't You Glad...?
Just to make you thrill to have found the portal to this undercover journal, here's some architecture and architect humor. Most of these cartoon sketches apply directly, some with a little translation:
This has no pictures, but has vivid insights, humorously posed:
7/9/08 Role of the Architect
Looking around at architect humor, I stumbled upon this great article on the role of the architect (which came up because the author asks his readers to humor him):
Well, well, in March I was journaling about the need to architect across user experience. I go farther than Magnus, for I don't think it is enough for the architect to stand behind the BA fence and catch what gets tossed over. The architect needs to have direct contact with end users and others in the value stream. This is not intended to undermine the role of business analysts by any means! The architect can't fill all roles. But the architect does need to have a real (in his/her head and heart) sense of, and contribute to the assessment of, value and opportunity, and challenge and risk, and this does not come filtered down 2nd and 3rd hand or from reading a requirements document, no matter how well put together. Requirements are an invention, an artifice, and if we want the architect to be responsible for right system built right, he/she needs to have an active, not reactive, role in determining what "right" is.
7/9/08 Japanese Anyone?
This abstract looks interesting, but the paper is in Japanese:
The conclusions show that Japan's superior development productivity noted in the 1980s - measured by person-hours and development lead-time - continued until 2000. European and U.S. automakers had difficulty imitating Japanese firms' integrated organizational abilities. One fundamental problem is that the typical project member in Europe and the U.S. is highly specialized, with a narrow range of responsibilities. Since this problem arises from labor market systems, individual firms can do little to change it. This high degree of specialization means larger numbers of people involved in each project, making coordination complicated. Since project managers in Europe and the U.S. are also highly specialized, it is difficult for them to take responsibility for both product development and marketing (product concept) in the way that Japan's heavyweight project managers do.
Nobeoka Kentaro and Fujimoto Takahiro, Organizational Capabilities of Product Development: International Competitiveness of Japanese Automakers, 2004
7/22/08: I have a growing concern around the islands of specialization we create in software development. Yes, yes, I get all people can't do all things well. But my concern about specialization isn't just because it means more people on projects, and more people cycling through projects at different points rather than staying with them through the life of the project, but because you don't get the innovation sparks that come from diverse, multi-disciplinary teams. There is also the point that no-one has end-to-end design responsibility for software systems. Often, the operating model is set up so that product managers (on the marketing side) own the product concept and "requirements" or customer-facing design side, and architects own the internal structural design, given the system concept and requirements. Advocates of this division of responsibility argue that design considerations should not be brought in to the requirements process, and I say that is behaving like the proverbial ostrich, sticking one's head in the sand when risk is about. Far better to involve designers in the requirements process, so long as the designers understand the design process! So long as they understand the divergence-convergence cycles of design.
I've said this in workshops, and I've probably written it in this journal, but requirements are not like so many cattle you can go out and corral. They don't exist in some extant form that someone just has to write down. Requirements are a key part of the design process, and critical design decisions are in fact being made at every step—in deciding what to ask, what information about the customer's actions, concerns, values, needs to capture and what not to, in deciding how to represent this, all shifts and shades priorities and windows on the problem to be solved in ways that absolutely do begin to shape the solution. Design is an interaction between opportunity and solution, and decoupling opportunity discovery from solution design is artificial and broken.
Clayton Christensen goes after one aspect of the disadvantage of industry incumbents versus start-ups when it comes to industry reshaping radical innovation—incumbents listen to powerful customers who have shaped some part of the way they do business around the incumbent's products, and who are interested in more, better, faster, pushing incremental innovations. But that is only one side of the equation. The other is that bigger companies do things on bigger scale. This is an advantage in sustaining innovation, pushing out more product tweaked to market segments. Bigger scale tends to be associated with more specialization and division of labor. Start-ups don't have that luxury, but therein lies their opportunity. Wearing multiple hats, and working in multi-disciplinary teams, gives them an innovation advantage, first, and second, they have less inertial weight associated with being tuned up around an industry as it has been shaped by its past. Everyone is responding to the opportunity as it presents itself, not dealing with the opportunity as it threatens the status quo.
7/10/08 Bezos on Innovation at Amazon
Q: The company has a
reputation for frugality. Does that apply to the way
Bezos on Innovation, BusinessWeek, April 17, 2008
And they require software. The associates program sounds like a business model innovation, but it is a business model that fundamentally is about tracking referrals and paying associates, and that's a whole layer of processing on top of the online shopping thing. It is a model that pays directly for effectiveness in actual product sales, in contrast with most advertising spend which only pays for consumer exposure; a stroke of genius, if you ask me. But it is a model that relies completely on software. Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the business model or the ability to create this capability using software? It's irrelevant. The only critical point is that the business seized the opportunity technology created.
Now Amazon is pushing through the next wave of industry-shaping innovation, selling highly scalable, reliable, pay-for-what-you-use data storage. Deciding that infrastructure is a core competency for Amazon and there's a big market for access to that competency, was all about recognizing another opportunity to compete through technology. And here's the next Amazon marketing revolution that is totally keyed on it's technical capability: Amazon has it's tech star, CTO Werner Vogels, out talking up Amazon's key technical strategies and architecture at tech forums like QCon and InfoQ, as well as his blog. Who better to sell to the technical community than highly credible tech-superstars, and who better to market to than architects and software developers watching the tech frontier? With the deepest respect, I say genius! Absolute genius.
What's more, it makes my point. Business plus technology are key to the innovation equation.
Of course, fan as I am, my jury (background thought processor) is still very much out on the whole Kindle thing—for me, personally. If I could switch back and forth between reading my books on the Kindle (away from my desk) and at my PC, back up my books with my annotations myself, and know that I had a migration path if I switched off Kindle at a later point, that'd be a deal-maker for me. But until I know I can do that, I'm not in a hurry to put all my book investments in a lock-tight, non-migratable Amazon vault. Do these caveats outweigh the pluses of being able to stop lugging paper, and get (virtually) instant gratification on book purchases? I guess it depends how many notes you write in the margin, and whether you're a read-once-done kind of person.
Even if I'm reluctant to step over the Kindle threshold, it is a powerful play by Amazon—Kindle users are locked in to buying their books on Amazon! A single source. Genius! So, even if the price of the Kindle proves a hurdle once the gadgetters have got theirs, Amazon can simply switch to the Gillette model and subsidize the Kindle price with lock-in revenue from Kindle-book sales. Woof! And you thought it was all about the device, neat technology at your service. Well, it is. But don't underestimate Bezos! That guy is smart, and he doesn't want to look back on missed opportunities and realize he flubbed it. There's disappointing your kids, and that's a motivator, but disappointing your 80-year old self when there's no time left for a do-over—you don't want to mess with a guy who thinks long term like this guy does!
Again, business plus technology; technology plus business. Differentiation happens at the interstices. Architect across the boundaries—within your system, within your business, within your markets. And architect across time, to create the future.
7/11/08 More Style Cloudiness, and BA-EA distinction
I read the reader feedback on The Rising Importance of the Enterprise Architect, by Diann Daniel, March 31, 2007, and apparently the definition of architecture and architectural style is as cloudy in building architecture as in software: Brian Seitz (9/6/07), who is a building architect by training, was suggesting that Gothic was the architecture, and the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., Notre Dame’, and St. Patrick’s Cathedrals are instances of Gothic architecture: "Thus blueprints are not architecture, but rather a representation of an instance of architecture."
Further along in the feedback, James Hooper very nicely distinguished between BA and EA:
'However, the difference between BA and EA appears to me to be context. The context of BA activities, even the enterprise analysis step, are focused on solving a problem or business need. EA is focused on alignment of IT solutions with strategy, across projects (connect the dots) and across time. While EAs may work within a project to draw out and document requirements that keep the project "strategic," this is traced back to the "long view" I described above.'
James Hooper, comment on "The Rising Importance of the Enterprise Architect," CIO, November 2007
7/11/08 Playing with Stereotypes
We're hiring an office assistant. The downside of hiring an assistant who is headed for grad school, is they head for grad school! The upside is you get a smart go-getter for a year. But that year ticks over so fast, I'm questioning the strategy. So, resumes. And it's an eye-opener! I never knew there was a degree in recreation! I kid you not—a Bachelor of Science in Recreation! Now where was that when I was an undergrad? I'd like to make a science of recreation! Put my workaholic nature to good use. Ecotourism is high on my list of alternate careers. It's always good to have a long list of alternate careers, so you can take plenty of risks in your chosen one! Like this journal. And archman.
Now, Joel, of Joel on Software, is perpetually hiring too. And boy is he bitter about Microsoft and Google's ability to hire the cream-of-the-crop! Joel, don't sweat the ergo stuff. Colored bouncy balls, that's all you need! And tell all your potential recruits they can spend 50% of their time working on pet projects. I'm not talking 50% of your time, but 50% of theirs. That's more generous than Microsoft. And more generous than Google. Giggle. You win. They win. And I get more i-time than Joel if I write stuff like this! Oh, I took this undercover. Why on earth did I do that? Oh yes, so I could write stuff like this.
Randy Pausch has a little book packed with some of the best advice in the business, and "don't whine" is up there on his life lessons.
Now, I don't like to whine about the women in software thing (not so you'd notice), but I stumbled on this (by way of Jeff Atwood, which took me to Haacked which took me to Berardi's analysus) and I liked this comment:
Ha - I must be *the* female demographic on Coding Horror. I’ll try and get some of my other girl programmer friends to check out Hanselman and the rest … oh wait, that’s right, I don’t know any other girl programmers …
Guys, guys, guys, it's not the photos of you with your kids that you're missing. Its the self-deprecating sense of humor! Phil Haack sure has one! (But I'm glad there's a photo of Dana with Ryan on the Bredemeyer website!)
And I didn't find any sensitive touchy feely stuff on your site Rob Conery, though your claim had me looking and unfairly drove up the numbers on female visitors to your site. Foul I say! Ok, so look, you can get the sensitive touchy feely stuff by reference; no really, all you need to do is plug my journal. But you have to do this without saying "sensitive" and "touchy feely" or you'll really put off your woman reader. Grin.
But all this did give me a critical piece of insight. My sense of humor is just too obtuse; like, you have to get irony, and though my son is well schooled in the intricate art of irony, I have to grant that he's a corner case.
Ah, gender stereotypes! So, maybe I should have followed Dana's suggestion and given archwoman curves rather than heels? Even so, as soon as the tech bloggers get hold of my code smells bit, it'll be all over for this site as a quiet backwaters place... except... I don't suppose any of them saw Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines. Oh well, I guess I'll have to update that. So, where's coupling happening now? On Second Life? Virtual instant gratification. That just leaves so much more time for everything else. Like blogging—you know, the new poetry:
"Plato claimed that poetry encourages men to be hysterical and uncontrolled. In response to Plato, Aristotle maintains that poetry makes them less, not more, emotional, by giving a periodic and healthy outlet to their feelings."
A dry sense of humor is a developed taste; like preferring merlot to beer. Now, now, just remember, satire plays here. I sure wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of Justice Gray; nor the right side, for that matter! But wait, there's hope: irony, wit, and that word at the bottom of Pandora's box! Could it be that the new "outing" will be the artistic heart of programmers? Oh right, that was satire. My metaphorical gates are safe.
Well, better read it fast, 'cos this one's tagged for the Outtakes bin! Gracious, keep this up and I'm going to have people begging for an RSS feed so they can get the good stuff before my sense returns! Humor in the middle of the day! Enough of that!
[7/12/08] Oh yeah, I do like Berardi's tagline:
It's what Sara said (with more words) when she saw archwoman drop the ball! Now, doesn't the sequence below just look so much more agile?
7/14/08 The Very Definition of Summer!
Even the watermeal looks picturesque in this moment!
7/14/08 Model Recognition
Well, who ever is listening to my model recognition plea, here's a possible jump start: Software turns hand-drawn designs into PC files, Computerworld, July 15, 2008.
7/15/08 Hand Rendering your Vision
Here's Google's Tim Armstrong talking about sketching the Google vision on a "napkin" or at least a sheet of paper. Using a simple sketch drawn in real-time helps communicate more effectively than a slew of slides. Don't just dismiss this as a "marketing" thing. It's a communication thing. And remember what Eb Rechtin said:
"Communicate, communicate, communicate!"
"There's no such thing as immaculate communication!"
And in the really cool category:
"if you want to draw on-screen, just open PowerPoint...
Funniest thing of all, I was giving a "back of the napkin" presentation to 100 people last week at Microsoft up in Redmond. It was a great session and at the end someone asked me what application I was using to do the live sketching on-screen. When I showed them it was plain-old out-of-the-box PPT, the crowd went wild! I've never had so many cheers."
Dan Roam, blog 7/14/08
For the instructions on drawing live while giving a presentation, you need to go to the source—Dan Roam's blog post. Really, go check it out. If you haven't been using this feature of Powerpoint, you'll be so glad you stopped by my site and got punted to Dan Roam's Amazon blog!
Anyway, I've written about drawing your models live so that your architecture unfolds as you talk, and this is all very much along those lines.
7/15/08 Where's Waldo?
Hmmph, my ploy didn't work. I thought a "Where's Waldo" gate to my journal would be simply irresistible. Oh well, I guess everyone was taking my word for it on the "hidden" entries being chaff, with the real nuggets exposed for view. Ha! I scanned back over some of my journal entries looking for nuggets on innovation, and it occurred to me that I have written some quotable lines:
And so on and so forth. So, you see, any time you need a quote, don't go searching those quote sites. Just Google your term of interest adding site:ruthmalan.com to your search phrase! You'll get something topical, and it will look like you actually read the stuff you quote. Ouch! Grin.
I'll leave you with this one: "You don't take my effusive rhetoric seriously do you? I tend to forget, once in a while, someone new to my style might be wandering through this..." [9/13/07] Effusive rhetoric, and seriously wicked (if you catch the drift) humor.
7/16/08 Visual Modeling
I believe it is Craig Larman that is pitching;
Of course, we have long been advocating visual architecting, which has at its heart the use of visual modeling to create a shared thought-space, not just to communicate the architecture specification. But it is worth emphasizing the value to working in small teams on architecture modeling. Just as pair programming typically produces better quality and overall productivity, there is value to having a small team work on the architecture. (Even if you don't formally have an architecture team, you can bring in tech leads and developers who have a proclivity for system thinking and modeling.) Still, one wants to be fluid, sometimes working alone (concurrently with others on the architecture team) to produce different variants that can be assessed for relative merits; and sometimes working in a small team, modeling "out loud" and using the visualizations as the shared thought-space to surface assumptions and stimulate creativity.
"Although we can, to some extent, form mental images in our heads, we do much better when those images are out in the world, on paper or a computer screen."
Visual Thinking for Design, Colin Ware, 2008
But there is a caveat to watch. Working through the visual architecting process, from context and vision to architecture blueprint, creates a team that is strongly vested, passionate about, their architecture.
"Tell me and I forget,
quoted in Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, Bill Buxton, 2007
So it is very, very important to expose the evolving worldview, the context, vision, conceptual architecture, and so on to early, and frequent input from other stakeholders, including other architects and developers who can add ideas and throw questions at the architecture from concept to blueprint, and then through system development and evolution. A better system will be designed, and more people will be vested in the outcome.
Alfred Sloan, who ran GM from 1923 to 1956, was onto something when he said at a meeting, "Gentlemen, I take it that we are all in complete agreement on the decision here. Then I propose that we postpone further discussion...to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about."
pg 39, The Innovation Killer: How What We Know Limits What We Can Imagine — and What Smart Companies Are Doing About It, Cynthia Barton Rabe, 2006
7/17/08 Kindle this!
7/17/08 Books, Books, and more Books!
7/17/08 Best Innovation and Change Quote Award!
"The Stone Age didn't end because of a shortage of stones!" Al Gore, live today (7/17/08)
Al Gore is asking the United States to step up to the challenge of transforming the nation from its dependence on carbon-based fuels within 10 years. We, each of us, in our personal and work lives have to make a strong commitment to that, to make it happen. We put a man on the moon in less than 10 years.
Remember this snippet from Bono's UPenn commencement address:
"Me, I'm in love with this country called America. ...
I'm that kind of fan. I read the Declaration of Independence and I've read the Constitution of the United States, and they are some liner notes, dude. As I said yesterday I made my pilgrimage to Independence Hall, and I love America because America is not just a country, it's an idea. You see my country, Ireland, is a great country, but it's not an idea. America is an idea, but it's an idea that brings with it some baggage, like power brings responsibility. It's an idea that brings with it equality, but equality even though it's the highest calling, is the hardest to reach. The idea that anything is possible, that's one of the reasons why I'm a fan of America. It's like hey, look there's the moon up there, lets take a walk on it, bring back a piece of it. That's the kind of America that I'm a fan of."
Bono, "Because We Can, We Must," Commencement Address by Bono, May 17, 2004.
Getting off our carbon-fuel dependence is possible! We are the architects of the future. And we have to create a vision for ourselves, our families, our communities, our businesses. And we have to realize that vision. Vision and action. Ghandi said "Be the change you want to see in the world."
"Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors, concern for the great unsolved problems of the organization of labor and the distribution of goods—in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations."
This is also a key message in Stephen Hawking's children's book George's Secret Key to the Universe (2007). We all (my kids ages 8 and 10, their cousin aged 13, and Dana and myself) enjoyed listening to the book driving from London to the Caledonian canal in Scotland.
7/20/08 On The Wild Side
Our education system focuses on the sciences, followed by language and humanities, but art, creativity, and collaboration are all downplayed. Yet these are skills we need to create innovative designs. Innovation is increasingly being seen as the antidote to intense global competition, and industry incumbents have to become better at innovating despite their size and inertial histories. The special skills demanded by the industrial age—math, science, engineering—will remain important, but the conceptual age demands a new level of ingenuity that comes from putting creativity and engineering together to create novel concepts and approaches. There is a growing awareness of the importance of visualization, of visual thinking, of drawing ideas, to help our thought process, but also to create the medium for team thinking. This is creating demand for "retrofitting" us adults, helping us get over our awkwardness about drawing and our self-perceived lack of skill in that area. Our education systems will have to catch on, and catch up, to this demand, and bring creativity, invention, and collaboration into the academic mainstream. Until then, it is, for the most part, just something that is relegated to short summer programs for those who are motivated enough to seek them out.
Mostly I'm so work-focused I don't venture into the artistic side of design, but I want my kids to develop their creativity and expressiveness; address that deficit in the education system. This bounding hare was the result of my modeling creativity for them. It was one of those happy accidents—I made a milfiori-type bead with Sculpey clay, then just started to shape it.
"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Pablo Picasso
7/21/08 Stealing America
Dorothy Fadiman's documentary, Stealing America Vote by Vote, will be screened around the nation, starting August 1st.
7/21/08 Ideating TED Style
If you're feeling like you need an idea stream on tap, try TED. It's an amazing event: TED 2009 is already sold out and wait listed! But videos of the speeches are available for free viewing at TED.com. There's an impressive line-up of speakers, on topics as diverse as mushrooms (they're more than you think—like, potent flu medicine) and percussion, the internet, and design—leaders from around the globe, representing a world of ideas, are brought together in Monterey, CA, every year, to share what excites them.
For example, from Yves Behar:
Advertising is the price companies pay for un-original designs.
Design should not be about slapping skins on technology, but design-driven from the inside out; design should be about helping define the whole user experience from the inside out.
Here we have designer, calling for integration of design decisions, because user experience isn't just determined by a superficial skin or wrapper around technology; because user experience is a product of the "internal" design. So design should be an integrated, multidisciplinary process, involving the technologists and the creative artists—bringing together design so we don't have skin design on one hand, and structural design on the other, with lesser product outcomes from this silo approach.
In software design, many projects are set up with a dichotomy between "design of the user experience" and "design of system structure," and "requirements" is often a distinct activity from "architecture" and "development." This is not just about separating "right brain types" from "left brain types," though sometimes cleaving the development process along the lines of these specializations, seems to play to individual's predilections and comfort zones. But product teams can't afford to simply ignore the interplay between value and capability that creates opportunity.
[I'm not sure whether to thank Dana (you remember--my story scout) for pointing me to TED...]
7/22/08 Drawing on the Walls—it's not just for kids!
We have "wallpapered" walls with sheets of paper and flip-chart paper taped up with painter's tape. But there is another solution to the "not enough whiteboard space" problem—Rediform has write-on cling sheets that come in a flip-chart form factor but can be used with dry-erase markers so you can fix mistooks. (Note: they're cheaper at Sam's Club). In Europe, there's Legamaster Magic Chart, which has similar cling+dry erase properties. Of course, where teams can take control of a meeting room or wall space in the team area, they can (should?) permanently wall-paper the walls with dry-erase wallpaper. (I just wish that Mr. Sketch made dry-erase markers!) The key is being able to cover the walls with models, not just being limited to one space. It is important to see the interactions and the tradeoffs, and having multiple views in view really helps keep more of the system in the shared team mind space. That digital camera is vital though.
[8/19/08] I don't mean to downplay the role of tools, be they drawing tools with UML templates or full round-trip engineering tools. It's just that in our world, tools are readily adopted, and hand-drawn sketches can be pushed aside in favor of just doing it once in the tool, where it will be easier to evolve. It is left to people like me to remind us that sketches play an important role in fostering collaboration. Done in-the-large on whiteboards or flip-charts, they create a multi-person thought-space where everyone can readily participate and add (no grabbing the mouse to drive), or show what they mean. And they convey a work-in-progress feel, that encourages this participation.
7/23/08 Interesting Trivia
Try Googling the following words: figuring out dimensions on a circle
Surprise! This journal comes up second on the search results! Wow! I guess if I just keep writing, I'll write enough words, in enough combinations, that this journal will come up on more and more obscure searches! Gee, more 1-stop-hop visitors.
Now try this—Google: women software architecture
At least my journal shows up on the first page of search results. Barring the result immediately above it, the preceding results are not relevant. What comes around, goes around. I guess there's plenty of room on that semantic search path Microsoft is pursuing!
[1/30/09: Google is fickle! Today my journal doesn't figure on the first page of results on a search on figuring out dimensions on a circle but wahoo!, it comes up first on a search on women software architecture, and Grady Booch's Handbook is in second spot--entirely appropriate! Uh, too bad I'm the only person who bothered to search that!]
7/23/08 Patents are Architecturally Significant (replay)
I scanned the IBM architect job listing that came up right before my journal on the women software architecture Google search. One of the architect's responsibilities:
"You will create publications and file patents on innovations discovered during projects as part of the job."
That reminded me of conversations I've been having with more architects lately. There's a lot of debate around patents and the patent process gets a lot of (often well-deserved) criticism, but it is what we have to protect our inventions. So I strongly encourage architects to consider both the competitive intelligence you get from paying attention to patents, as well as the importance of protecting intellectual property and raising the visibility of your company as a technology innovator. This latter can be surprisingly important, because the race for talent is definitely on, and talent is often drawn to invention and innovation.
7/24/08 Early Enrollment Discount
The early enrollment discount window for the Software Architecture Workshop (to be held in Indianapolis, IN on October 13-16, 2008) ends July 31st. [7/31/08: There are only 7 places left open, and still 2 1/2 months to go before the class!]
Also, enrollment numbers in the Architectural Leadership Workshop in Indianapolis, IN September 22-24, 2008 are creeping up, but it sure would be good to have several more! Just think, could you afford to take individual courses on strategy, leadership, organizational dynamics/politics, consulting, system thinking, visualization, and so forth? That's a lot of courses! Or a lot of books to read. An integrated course that covers these topics in a way that is directly relevant to architects has its advantages. Besides, this workshop draws together talented architects, and the shared context makes the lessons, the stories, the team practice sessions all so much more relevant.
7/25/08 Randy Pausch Died Today
A great man passed from among us today. In dying, Randy showed us how to live. His unpretentious brown package of a book is a life-reshaping gift. This is a computer scientist who teaches us to take a sledgehammer to a badly designed product, and to a visionless life; to embrace the first penguin, finding in failure the seeds of success; to be a recovering jerk, rather than the jerk our teams have to recover from; and most of all, to have fun.
Reading the book reviews on Amazon, I'm reminded that there are a lot of very different people out there! In tribute to Randy's positive outlook, I'll just take that as a reminder to be grateful that I am open to insights that seem like common sense in hindsight, but for which I have to thank Randy--he not only opened my mind but he deftly reshuffled my priority stack! I am grateful to have his story--the story of his life and his journey to it's untimely passing; and his stories—the lessons he reaped and the lessons he sowed.
Jesse Kornbluth, who interviewed Randy Pausch for Reader's Digest in February this year, wrote in a review:
'It's about paying attention to what you think is important (when asked how he got tenure early, Pausch replied, "Call me at my office at 10 o'clock on Friday night and I'll tell you") and working hard and listening really well. It's easy to miss that last part of that in the emotion and the stories surrounding this book, but Pausch argues that hearing what other people say about you and your work is crucial to success and happiness. Because this is what you get: "a feedback loop for life."'
A feedback loop for life! That's better than Maslow! Between Bezos and Pausch, I'm coming to think of myself as a geek! And I thought because I showered every day and slept until 4am, I didn't qualify! But, then again...
A Tribute in Passing
Randy Pausch was wrenched
from his family today.
With a world of others, I gasped
at their pain.
Embracing life, even as it was leaving him,
He bequeathed to us his gift for living
An unpretentious brown package
a deft head fake
shaking the finality of death
to speak into the future
whisper his yearnings
to his children
and to us
His wisdom and his joy
weave threads of change
through the fabric of our lives.
Leaves us indelibly marked
with determination to make
each day matter.
Purpose, bejeweled with fun--
Randy's legacy will be much treasured.
Ah well, it's a good thing no-one reads the long version of this journal! That gives me more freedom...
7/27/08 My Father Died Two Years Ago Today
My father died of cancer this day, two years ago. It was the first time I was forced to face the torment of a person living with a death sentence, living with the knowledge that there is so much more that person wants to do, but won't get to. For Randy Pausch, it was very much about leaving his family. For my father, it was about departing before he could see his life's vision gaining a foothold in the public mind. His vision was not micro-financing but micro-investing—creating a way for poor people to invest quite small amounts and by massing together become venture capital investors, giving them access to the kinds of returns generally only reaped by the wealthy.
7/27/08 Procrastination Has a Greeting Card
I was struck by a greeting card next to the Barnes and Noble check-out line: A picture of a monitor covered with post-it notes with one in the center with the words "clean desk." And the quote below the picture?
"Tomorrow is the busiest day of the week!"
From early days, my kids have known the famous Einstein quote:
"If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"
In his Time Management lecture, Randy Pausch recommends an uncluttered desk. Frank Gehry says when he starts a new project he procrastinates, clears his desk... So, I conclude, an uncluttered desk is not necessary to success and productivity. But I can appreciate that it helps--I have a good imagination.
7/27/08 Heir to the Apple?
A lot of pressure is being put on Steve Jobs to announce a succession plan that will give shareholders confidence, as his health comes under periodic scrutiny. It occurred to me that the cost of Jobs appearing to the world as the miracle man behind every Apple success, is that the world has come to believe he creates these market wonders single-handedly. So, it seems to me, sharing the credit might not just be good leadership, but good business! Putting chief architects of key products in the limelight, would demonstrate to the world that it takes a full lineage of visionaries to bring a portfolio of industry-shaping innovations to market prominence. Of course, I'd like to hear the stories (and better yet, get to tell the stories) of Apple's architects. Yup, everyone has their own agenda.
7/28/08 Software Architecture Workshop at Critical Mass Already
With a few days left to go on the early enrollment discount window for the Software Architecture Workshop (to be held in Indianapolis, IN on October 13-16, 2008), we're already at critical mass for the class. But we still have seats, so if you know anyone who'd benefit from the workshop, please do let them know!
The Architectural Leadership Workshop in Indianapolis, IN September 22-24, 2008 still is below critical mass, and we're giving it two more weeks to decide go/no go. So, if you want to take this class this year, please go ahead and enroll. These things are self-fulfilling prophecies of sorts--by enrolling, you make it at least 33% more likely to run! Get two more people from your company to enroll with you, and we' re there and you all get a 10% discount.
7/28/08 Best Site Carrot
Megan from Australia gets this week's golden carrot award for this comment on her Resources for Architects mailing list signup:
"This site is one of the best out there."
Of course, I'd love it if someone was to say that about my journal site, but I do recognize that would be a stretch. It has too many words, too much playfulness in using words, and too much irony. They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, and irony is a close relation. So there you have it. Low humor. Too many words. Nothing really to recommend it.
Irony, my friends. Irony. Naturally I think there is something to recommend it: like, it does have this link.
7/30/08 On the Relevance of the Analogy
Ok, if you ever questioned whether the building architect analogy was relevant, this should put your doubts to rest.
Need more architect humor? How about Paul Stovell's Big "A" architect super villain?
7/31/08 All You Have to Do Is Expect You can
Putting the The Last Lecture away, I got drawn back in to the section titled "All you have to do is ask" (chapterlet 55) and chuckled. You see, with Ryan you find out these things on your very first trip to Disneyworld! I have characterized this as "expect that you can do the unexpected and you will" but it is perhaps better put "All you have to do is expect you can" (for then you'll ask). On our very first Disneyworld monorail ride, Ryan wanted to ride with the engineer. We asked. We rode in the cab. That did it. From then on, we always rode in the cab. Sometimes we had to wait for the next train or the next, because other families were ahead of us in the special line for seating in the monorail cab. But we always rode up front with the engineer. We just couldn't imagine doing anything else. We were also glad that not too many others could imagine that they could get to ride up front, or imagine that they would want to! Now that millions have read The Last Lecture, I'm afraid that line for the cab will be longer. But not too much longer. Not every parent is willing to wait for several trains to go by, just to ride up front with the engineer and get a "pilot's license" card to show for it.
7/31/08 So, seeing the value in the Pared Down version?
Ok, so you found the "undercover" version of my journal! Now you're marked as a stalwart Tigger, star gazer, awe-struck seeker--living this life with your lights turned fully on! Kindred spirits, a la Anne of Green Gables (which is not just for girls, though most guys don't get that 'til they grow up; ouch! grin).
To sum it all up, what at a minimum do I want you to take away this month?
So, what do you think: