A Trace in the Sand
Online Architecture Journal
by Ruth Malan

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Trace in the Sand
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Reflections (photo by Ruth Malan 11/1/08)November 2008

11/1/08 Your Co-ordinates

This is my architects architecting architecture journal, where I explore topics related to what it takes to be a great software architect--or systems or enterprise architect for that matter.

Photo: reflections on Ogle Lake in Brown County State Park, taken 11/1/08.

11/1/08 The Leadership Triad

Gladwell's thesis in The Tipping Point is that social epidemics (like iPod fever) are tipped by the characteristics of the carrier of the message, the properties of the message, and the properties of the environment. It is worth noting that these, too, form the triad of leadership.

The leader perceives what is needed in the environment, in the people and their context. The leader sees the need, and the solution, and is inspired, even compelled, to lead the change he or she sees as necessary. The leader crafts a compelling vision story or case for change based on what he or she perceives is needed in the community that the leader serves. And as other people perceive the fit of the message to the need they feel, and become more acutely aware of the need through the compelling nature and statement of the message, they step up to the plate of followership. They serve the purpose, and as they embrace and transmit the purpose and the message that conveys it, they become leaders too. Leading by example, and leading by having a strong purpose and compelling message.

Leadership, then, is about the environment, and some deep need for change in that environment. It is about perceiving the need and working towards crafting a solution strategy, building a shared sense of the need and solution approach. Building this shared commitment involves creating a compelling message that motivates action. And it is about the leader's passion, and more, the leader's talent in inspiring others to share that passion, to align with and put energy and talent into the shared purpose that the leader has helped them build.

Paraphrasing from Speed Racer, leaders don't become leaders to drive, they become leaders because they are driven. Leaders lead by inspiration, influence and persuasion; by enrolling a group of followers to elaborate a shared vision, to formulate a strategy to reach it, and to lead the teams of teams that implement the strategy.

11/1/08 Leaders, Warts And All

I returned to reading Why Should Anyone Be Led by You. One of the central tenets is that leaders reveal (just enough) flaws to be seen as authentic, and they manage attention to their flaws by being the ones to select which (forgivable) flaws they draw attention to, drawing off attack by getting there first, so to speak. It occurred to me that while I agree authentic leaders have flaws that they don't try to sweep under the rug, I don't necessarily agree that they consciously or subconsciously choose to expose these weaknesses to advantage themselves. They are human. They accept they are human, with strengths and flaws, emotions, bad days, messy desks, ... And they lead without trying to project they are superhuman. They lead because they see a deep need that they have ideas on how to fill.

To the extent that I lead in the architecture space, it is because I care about architects and I have completely wrapped my identity and sense of purpose into helping architects be great. I do this despite my weaknesses; I don't use my weaknesses to demonstrate or underscore my authenticity. I think that weaknesses are relevant only to the extent that we should not expect ourselves, or others, as leaders, to be "peak achievers" in every dimension. I'll say things like "I set a low bar" with my handwriting and hand-drawn graphical facilitation templates in workshops, but it is not to distract from other weaknesses by drawing attention to some that (I think) are forgivable! I do it to encourage others to take risks with graphical facilitation—to put themselves "out there," egos on the line, to see that it is not so bad. If you have something bigger that people grok you are leading them towards, they work with you to make that bigger thing successful.Rapport (photo by Ruth Malan, 11/2/08) Even if they don't fully perceive what that is, they step up to help. But they don't step up to help because my handwriting is bad!

So, I think the discussion of flaws is useful to the extent that it opens one up to accepting that leaders aren't perfect; they are human, with strengths and weaknesses. The paramount strength of a leader is the purpose, the vision, of the leader—the need they have perceived, and the confidence they create in a strategy for reaching the vision.

[11/4/08: As you might have inferred, I am a fan of Zappos! You can download the Tribal Leadership audio book featuring Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, having a conversation with Dave Logan, co-author of Tribal Leadership.]

11/2/08 Rapport

Nothing builds rapport like working together on a shared vision... or plotting against a "common foe"in this case (right), Dad in the acorn wars.

11/3/08 Reinventing Comics

I am thoroughly enjoying Reinventing Comics. As I am wont to do, I started reading in the middle, to see if I connected with the content. Today I went back to the beginning. And on page 14, guess what? There's a guy shoveling ... behind an elephant. What you pay attention to, determines what you see, and hence, shapes what you pay attention to.

Oh, but that's not all! See, I was one of those who just didn't get the male-power teenage fantasy cartoon thing, so I only got clued in to the evocative, communicative power of comics much later, than, say, my brothers. McCloud drew/wrote the Reinventing Comics book in 2000; it'd be so neat to see what he'd do with it today! The guy is a genius! His clarity of insight and pithy communication is amazing. Just look at his history of the internet and his predictions from 2000 about its role. If you have money to spend on an Architecture Roadmap, get McCloud to help you! I am serious. Well, of course it'd be a toss up between McCloud and me... Grin.

Cartoons and comics are making it in business communication, and it's not just Dilbert. I already pointed you to the Chrome comic [9/10/08] and Sukamol Srikwan and Markus Jakobsson's security cartoon site [10/17/08].  

Crushed! Pushing rocks uphill has its risks...11/3/08 Visualization and the Battle for Mindshare

One of the architects I worked with last week damned me with faint praise for my use of hand-written/drawn content and went on to ask about tools for architects. He told a story about his friend who is a building architect restoring a building damaged by Katrina. They actually had the rolls of paper blueprints for the building, but it turned out that the paper form is arcanethe stuff done on paper is barely understandable any more because so much is done using computer tools that those old blueprints are like an artifact from a by-gone era that a historian or anthropologist would have to interpret. His friend had to transcribe all those paper blueprints into the computer models they work with now, so that the team could move the design forward using the design tools they understand and work with.

So what are our tools that make hand-drawn sketches obsolete? Sorry, loaded question. Communication and buy-in will never be obsolete. But what about tools that help us think, help us handle more complexity, design for ever more demanding feature spaces and ever more aggressive system properties? Do we have CAD packages for software systems? System visualization tools? Tools to simulate our strategies to address scale and availabilityto help us do threat modeling and strategy assessment?

Yes, we have UML tools of various flavors (from drawing tools to CASE tools supporting UML). And structural analysis tools like Lattix and NDepend. But these speak largely to static analysis. What about dynamic analysis, design, and simulation? Obviously I mean going beyond communication, sequence and activity diagrams to dynamically modeling and simulating interactions between a design option and system properties of interest.

Ok, so there's PPOOA and Cheddar (see also my heads up in May and this presentation from Jose). What other university-led work should we be watching? and industry led? Of course, we're going to have to watch the likes of Microsoft Oslo (as word is leaked out). But is that like designing with subassemblieslike using Lego blocks that are more comprehensive sub-assemblies rather than just bricks? That's important. But is it the same thing as CAD for software? We'll see.

What other design tools are there, and what's coming? soon?

Ciao

Ah yes, faint praise.     

So... back to pushing rocks...

 

Ciao!

 

11/4/08 And Implied Praise

"I just wanted to say, I am constantly drawing on the material I learned in your class."

Craig, personal email, 11/4/08

 

That is what it is all about! Those rocks don't feel so heavy today. Grin.

11/5/08 Leadership and Recognition

Ok folk, here's a wonderful example of what I have been talking about: recognition from the leader of the role played by the followers:

"dana —

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,

Barack"

"personal" email to db, Barack Obama, 11/5/08

11/5/08 Leadership and Change

This is a great day! A day when the world feels inspiredthe American dream, democracy's dream, is alive and well! Anything is possible! We can do great, right things! This is a day when a man who let his heart feel the need of a nation (even a world) heeded the call to leadership, rallied the people, mobilized a nation around the need for change, and made it happen! Everything we need to know about leadership is wrapped up in what President-elect Obama has done, and how he did it. Inspiration and action. Vision, strategy and execution.  Exquisite execution. But not execution alone. Inspiration first, inspiration throughout. The Audacity of Hope indeed!

Through it, I've learned that Gladwell's Tipping Point is, well, tipped... Much of The Tipping Point focuses on 3 types of carrier who tip word-of-mouth epidemics (connector, maven, salesman). In Obama's campaign, we saw the tremendous vitality of social networks (online and in-person) in creating social contagion. And in getting that social engine moving, Obama set in motion cogs, turning cogs, using vision. Technology mavens, connectors and purveyors of the vision (salesmen) all played a key role. But as I see it, it all begins with the need, and the leader who perceives the need for change, and energizes people around that change.  The leadership triad, then, is:

  • a need for change in the environment

  • the leader who sees the need and how to bring people together to address it,

  • and the message that mobilizes those who must work together to make the change.

Leaders are special in many ways, but in this way they stand out—they see the need, they are able to express the urgency and need for change and mobilize people to effect change and address the need. Yes, the message is important. Rhetoric and the stickiness of the message are important, as they make vivid and compelling the case for change (logos and pathos), and enhance the standing of the leader (ethos). But the need is what breathes life into the rhetoric; the need is what breathes passion in the leader; the need is what followers identify with and are themselves impassioned to address. The status quo, inertia, power trees wrapped around the status quothese all obscure the need or damp our hope in doing something about it, but the leader sees it clearly, reveals it, and builds a shared vision of a change we can work together to effect—the destination and the path to it. A challenging path, because change is hard. But a feasible path. A path we can believe in, and see our role in. Leaders are special because they perceive the seed of a vision, they draw people together to create a shared vision, and draw still more, and more, people together to bring the vision to fruition.

We see this in the large with yesterday's election and what led up to it. We saw it with Ghandi, with Martin Luther-King, with Mandela. We see it with CEO's who go beyond managing the means of production to creating organizations that are dynamic organisms that respond adaptively to a changing world. And we see leadership in more focused situations too. Situations that change the daily lives of dozens and hundreds of people, rather than millions, even billions, of people.

Archman addesses the kludge!The "need" may be systems that have devolved into a "big ball of mud," it may be IT communities that feel under-appreciated and business communities that feel over-invested and under-supported in their mission to create competitive distinction through technology, it may be seeing an opportunity to make a difference through information, and even going beyond information to business intelligence. The need is the seed around which leaders begin to ask their people to "wonder why" and "what if" and "what else," to create a shared vision and strategy, and lead the teams, of teams, of people who work to create the change. The need is what impassions the leader, and followers who become leaders too. The need is what makes the leader resilient, because the need is also the seed of hope. If we could not clearly see what the need is, we can't draft a strategy for change. Mere discontent only mobilizes rage. Discontent with a vision, with a clear path to change, mobilizes hope.

If your vision is a good, right vision—a vision put together out of the hopes, desires, aspirations, goals, needs of your stakeholders, balancing across stakeholders and looking to past successes and future competitiveness—then you will have a well-spring of enthusiasm that energizes you, other leaders who'll emerge to help transmit the vision, and followers who help you build it.

At a recent workshop, one of the attendees objected that architects are not leaders. And they may not need to be, in that person's context. If all the architect does (and all the architect gets to do) is take given requirements, create a design, and hand it off, then the architect is not a leader. In that case, someone else is perceiving the need, and crafting the vision and strategy, so the architect has no role to play in identifying the "right system," defining the system concept and distinguishing value set. And if the architectural design is handed off, the architect does not get to lead to "built right" either. Leadership comes into play when the architect, through leadership, changes the usual trajectory of a project, inspires and enables the team to rise above the pressures that tend to erode and compromise system structure. And leadership comes into play when the architect is able to "lead the elephant," playing a role in shaping a vision for a great, right systema system that achieves good fit to purpose, and fit to context, and delivers differentiating value, delight even.

If the role of the architect is limited to a slice in the lifecycle of the system, we get what is status quo for many organizationsarchitects who are heroes of crisis intervention. But we need architects who are heroes of crisis prevention, and more, architects who are leaders in innovation and value creation through matching technology capability to business opportunity.

I'm told that newspapers sold out early this morning! A historic day. An exciting and invigorating day! People want to preserve a piece of this history.

[12/7/08] Hmpf--I see Tom Peters beat me to this insight that leaders see the need. He puts it in terms of a "quest." This from Tom Peters slidedeck on leadership:

 

11/5/08 Relating World Intelligence to Business Intelligence

So, this is the sort of thing your BI team has been doing, right?

(I expect that income was adjusted for inflation... well, we shouldn't let moving bubbles bewitch us into forgetting to ask the obvious, should we?)

11/7/08 IT and Business Agility

Stan Letarte pointed us to this slideset on Business Agility and IT by Peter Weill at MIT.

11/7/08 Architecture Principles

Definition of principles:

NIH Enterprise Architecture:

"Principles are high level statements of the fundamental values that guide Information Technology (IT) decision-making and activities at NIH and are the foundation for IT architecture, standards, and policy development."

W3C's Architecture for the World Wide Web Vol 1:

'An architectural principle is a fundamental rule that applies to a large number of situations and variables. Architectural principles include "separation of concerns", "generic interface", "self-descriptive syntax," "visible semantics," "network effect" (Metcalfe's Law), and Amdahl's Law: "The speed of a system is limited by its slowest component."'

Via Nova Architectura, Architecture Principles Arena:

"Even though there are several definitions of principles, we believe there are actually three classes of principles:

Principles as inherent laws. These are essentially properties of (classes of) a system that are inherent to a system (such as an enterprise, an information system, or a software system), and can as such be observed and validated.
Examples are the laws of nature, law of requisite variety, laws of social behavior, etc.

Principles as imposed laws. Like inherent laws, they are properties that can be validated. However, imposed laws also require mechanisms to enforce them. Imposed laws typically address concerns of stakeholders. Some of these concerns may be raised by inherent laws which may have a negative/undesirable effect with regard to the system being designed.
Examples are: societal laws, policies and regulations within organizations, etc.

Principles as guidelines. Desired properties that are so concrete that they offer guidelines to make operational behavior fit imposed laws.
For example: use your car's cruise control is an advisable property to abide by that provides guidance in obeying the law concerning maximum speeds on roads."

Guide to creating architecture principles:

Examples of architecture principles:

Industry

University

Federal and state agencies:

Other governments:

11/8/08 Ghandi and Tales of Growing up in South Africa

It seems a lifetime (more than my kids' but less than mine) since I watched the movie Gandhi, and we're watching it again. It feels right, given where we are with President-elect Obama and the hope all the world holds for him, to watch a leader who changed the world.

Seeing Ghandi's time in South Africa reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in apartheid South Africa, but I didn't experience it the way most white South Africans did. My father found himself with four children under two within his first three years of marriage, and never got a college degree. But he was very smart, and worked his way from a sales clerk to a bookkeeper to an accountant and in time became the senior accountant at a big company. My mother was a midwife and she went back to get her nursing certificate when I was nine and my youngest sister was just months old, leaving my father to single-parent for those three and a half years. All of which means we started out poor and over the course of my childhood we became middle class. When we were poor and my mother was hours away doing her nursing training, my father rented a cottage on a farm, and after school and over the weekends and holidays we children ran free. My friends were the African children who also lived there. We dug clay from the river banks to make the cattle and figures we played with, and when we got hot we swam in the river that ran through the farm, naked white and brown children, growing up African. Uncloaked with pretension or prejudice. Simply children. My family was Catholic—well, my father was, at that time, nominally Catholic so the Catholic Church claimed us as good practicing brethren—I was the oldest of six children, you see. (At the time, the "six children! so you're Catholic" wink-wink quips went right over my head.) But so it was that I went to a small all-girls Convent while my brothers went to public school. When we moved to Pietermaritzburg and I was dumped in a public high school with 1000 girls, I was quite lost in the transition. But I found my place in a Catholic youth group started by the most deeply beautiful man I have ever known (besides Dana). A Catholic priest, he sought to heal the divides in the broader community he served, and this youth group was unique in the landscape of South African experience in the apartheid era, for it was multi-racial.

As a kid of 16, I was elected a leader in the youth group of some 90 youths and young adults from across the city—whites, blacks, Indians, "coloreds" (mixed race). And I got to do some pretty amazing stuff with young people of all colors, and go places a teenage middle class white girl never went. I got to witness closely the challenge of the life of a black person living in the townships where there was no running water and no electricity. I spent time in the homes and the lives of people whites never got to know. One Christmas we did the Nativity as a musical and I danced the part of Mary on the altar at mid-night mass on Christmas Eve and saw the bigots, my uncle among them, get up and walk out of church because Joseph was colored and he and I were dancing on the altar. Then we did the same performance in a "black" church and I saw the black people with tears in their eyes and received happy hugs from them for the same reason—because I was white and Joseph was colored and we were dancing on the altar!

I was convinced South Africa could not change peacefully—I grew up hearing the rhetoric of the whites, borne of fear and prejudice, and seeing the pain and rising resistance of the blacks. I could not take part in a violent fight against any of my people. I immersed myself in my software career and left the country as soon as a door opened enabling that. It was unimaginable to me that apartheid would end without an armed struggle. The heroes of peaceful change were dead or imprisoned. All white boys finishing high school had to either do compulsory military service right off, or go to university and then do military service. One of my brothers did military service right after high school—he was sent to the Namibian border and at just 18 and 19 he was seeing the horrors of gorilla warfare along the border as "insurgents" sought to brings arms into the country to prepare for an armed rising. I remember my brother, on a break from border duty, sweating and crying in his sleep from horrors he would not talk about during the day—a fellow soldier blown up by a landmine right in front of him; the fear in every step, every step that could be his last. His twin was trained in the Zulu language and his military service was spent helping to educate black people in the "homelands" on better agriculture practices. The white rulers were paternal masters and oppressors. Anyway, I was caught between all this, supporting peaceful change, but sure change had to come through violence I could not participate in.

All these things shaped me. My father suffered a battle with cancer for eighteen months, and though he was an introvert and rarely spoke without being asked his opinion, he made a point to tell me while he still could what he most valued in me, the thing he saw that most sets me apart—and it was my capacity for empathy. I think he is right; I know even from an email more than other people would know or see. And on my desk I have the pebble I found that is the Earth's Scream, which for me is an emblem of my unique way of seeing, as well as a reminder that big things have to be done to set this world to rights.

11/10/08 Gandhi and Leadership Principles
 
If you haven't watched Gandhi in a while, I heartily recommend it! It is about a great leader, and about great followers. And it is about principles with catchy names like "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Deep, nation-changing principles. Would that we, the world, would rise to Gandhi's vision the way the Indian people rose to it. How can we be so jaded, have such low expectations of ourselves and of humanity, when such a man, and such a people, showed what can be done with love? The love of a man for his nation (and humanity), and the love of a nation for that man, changed the course of history. Love. Not wishy-washy ooshy-gooshy stuff. Tough choices. Firmness and resilience in the face of adversity. Love, and gentleness that is not weakness but a force for change. Shame on us for not demanding that in our leaders!

[Note: If you're thinking of buying the movie Gandhi, DeepDiscount has a 25% off saleuse SUPERSALE as the promo code. There, now you can't say you never learned anything of value from me! Grin.]

11/10/08 Silicon Gobbles Jobs

"Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor Luis von Ahn has developed digitization software that could put the New York Times' entire archive, which dates back to 1851, online by late 2009. The newspaper has been using typists to digitize its archive, and in 10 years they have been able to digitize 27 years of articles. Von Ahn's software will process 129 years in less than 24 months." 
Profile: Luis von Ahn, by Jessie Scanlon, Jessie, BusinessWeek 11/03/08

Has anyone counted the number of jobs that technology has transferred not offshore, but to silicon? If someone does, could we be the new bogeyman? Technology creates jobs, but also transfers jobs where they can be done more cost-effectivelyto computers. Raising productivity and reducing labor costs makes companies more efficient, and more globally competitive.

Rather than chasing job-loss-causing bogeymen, doesn't it make a lot more sense to focus our energy on creating jobs to harness our inventiveness to reduce our impact on the planet? This is more than re-orienting ourselves so we meet Al Gore's call to energy independence by 2018. This is about reducing our impact in other areas too. So, along the lines of "green IT" and green products, here are a few books I've targeted for consideration in my book purchase/reading budget:

  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

  • Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston

11/10/8 Goodreads.com ... and then some

If you create a software architects group on goodreads.com, please do invite me to join it! If you don't, maybe I'll get around to it one of these days. If you're new to goodreads, this list (by a systems architect) may inspire you. Goodreads.com gets advertising dollar and referral fees from Amazon, but they also send readers to B&N, etc., so it doesn't have single vendor lock-in.

Of course, Amazon has fired up a social networking reading group engine, and hooked up with LinkedInthis will be one to watch! See, for example, Rishi Khullar's reading list on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is really getting cooking! It is exciting to watch! 

Lots of ways to find out about books.

It'll be interesting to see where these two go from here. Amazon is the next Microsoft and Walmart combined! Smart company. But an oligopoly in the making...

11/11/08 Software Architecture Workshop Group on LinkedIn

During the last open enrollment workshop (a few weeks ago), a LinkedIn Group was created for Bredemeyer Software Architecture Workshop "alumni" (thanks Salman). If you are an "alum," it would be great if you'd join the group. I am responsible for vetting all requests to join, so it would be helpful (but not essential) if you could let me know which workshop you attended (company for an internal workshop, or date/location for an open enrollment workshop).

11/11/08 Google Trends

I tried out Google Trends. This is better than stringing paperclips!

First I tried "software architecture" — a steady decline in searches on "software architecture" from 2004 to now. The USA ranks 7th on searches on that term. India is 1st. Iran and Pakistan, and Australia and Singapore, show up above the USA. Hmmm...

So I tried "software architect" — again, a steady decline in searches since 2004. India is 1st again. South Africa is 2nd. New Zealand is 3rd. The Netherlands is 4th. The USA is 5th!! (These are all countries we've done work in. Grin.)

Now that's all pretty surprising. How about SOA? India is not in the top spot. The Netherlands is! The USA is in 9th. Search volume went up through 2006/7 and has been declining. News reference volume has been steadily increasing.

Alrighty, "service oriented architecture"? Increasing in 2004/5, but steadily declining from 2006. Search volume rank order: India 1st, Netherlands 2nd, Singapore 3rd, and the USA 4th.News references, on the whole, steadily increasing.

Rats, we're not looking so good! How about "IT architecture"?  1. India, 2. South Africa, 3. Singapore, 4. Australia, 5. Malaysia, 6. Ireland, 7. New Zealand, 8. United States...

What about something topical like "cloud computing"?  1. India, 2. South Korea, 3. Singapore, 4. Taiwan, 5. United States

Now for another big one—innovation: decreasing in search volume from 2004, but steadily increasing in news volume. Rank order:

1. Singapore, 2. Denmark, 3. South Africa, 4. India, 5. Malaysia, 6. Australia, 7. Ireland, 8. Norway, 9. United Kingdom, 10. Canada

What do you notice? The USA is nowhere in sight! What does that tell us? We're so into innovation, we're past the simple searches to more detailed searches like "malan innovation"???? (grin)

"Agile development," "scrum software,"  "6 sigma" and "six sigma," "agility," ... no search term with USA ranked 1st. In desperation, I tried "Obama" and hooray, United States ranks first in searches on Obama. Those folk in The Netherlands must spend their lives on Google though, because they again showed up in the top ten! Grin. And "bailout"? Yep, the USA is in 1st place...

Ok Google, listen up: what about the meta-trends here? Like, who searches the most? And who searches high tech topics the most? As a nation, and per capita? Singapore and The Netherlands must be way up there when adjusted for population. And India—what an advantage over China to be a free country!

So, what about tech websites? India is first and the USA second on visitors to hibernate.org, springframework.org, jboss.org,  jboss.com, theserverside.com, javaranch.com, etc. But the USA tops India on RubyOnRails.com and .org.

Wahoo! This is better than the Olympics!!!

Ok, now for something interesting: try "software architecture, agile development." It's all over for us architects! Even Dilbert's PHB is into agile ...

And "enterprise architecture, innovation"... hmmm...

11/12/08 Feedback on Getting Past "But"

When a core group of architects I respect read the draft of our Cutter executive report, each came back with different places to cut, to help me get it reduced to the Cutter maximum word count. Now cutting 1200 words out of the report was a hard call—one I wasn't able to make, so the suggestions were focused on helping me make a deep cut. Anyway, one found the circles of innovation model most useful, one suggested cutting my debrief of the lessons from The Wheel, and another the second half of the report. No-one suggested cutting the story, which enthralled and amazed me, for that was where I felt most vulnerable. (I'm sure there are people out there who think I'm nuts for including it, but they aren't in my inner circle of architects. Grin.) At any rate, this gave me an early indication that different people were going to get more and less value out of different parts of the report. One of the architects who's just read the Getting Past "But" paper, came back with some feedback which I have to share because I think it is likely to be a reaction that many in the audience will identify with:

"The content is very topical. The challenge we always have is how do we get new ideas/initiatives/products off the ground when 110% of our people (&budget) is on maintaining and releasing version n+1 of our existing products? As you can imagine in a large company, there are strong functional separations (Product Management, Product Engineering, System Engineering), and even strong demarcation of roles within a function (Application Architect, Business Analyst, User Experience, Project Manager). Metrics, "accountability", and natural group behaviour all tend to lead us to try and optimise the performance of each function, or role ("well I did my job on time..."). We don't lack ideas. Our challenge is to execute in a "circles of innovation" model. There are some good and inspirational ideas in your paper; I will certainly share with the team and beyond."

personal email, 11/12/08

I was struck by the "we don't lack ideas" message. This is so true in software engineering. We really are an innovative bunch, though reigned in with the focus on rev n+1. Christensen talks about the focus of resources on sustaining innovation (rev n+1) in The Innovator's Dilemma, though he leaves more there to go after. And I didn't have space in the report to explore every topic I had outlined, so tabled that for "the book." I was planning to talk about the Google model (20% time on pet projects produces 50% of innovations), and the organizational implications for innovation that the executive team needs to take into account. It's too bad, because the lack of attention in this area in the report could be construed as putting the onus on architects to do all the getting past but. Of course, I did already mention that the report is "smuggling donkeys" or a Pauschian "head fake."

It is also worth bearing in mind that every 3-6 years or so, organizations get to the point where the n+1 approach is just so hard that the platform has to be refreshed. The technologies it was built on are outdated, the architecture has devolved to the point where not only is it slower to add features, doing so is more error-prone, and when it breaks there are only a few key people who can sort it out, and so forth (like, the code base gets so big it brings the dev tools to their knees). So the opportunity for industry reshaping innovation doesn't just come around once, when the product is first created. A good hard look at differentiating in the next 3-6 years has to be the focus of any platform "regeneration" effort. And, sadly, this is often not the case. Simply cleaning up the current system is a big job, given the complexity of the feature set by this point in the product family evolution. That makes it especially important to get the hub of innovation "smokin" on where the market and technology and value network is headed, and where the big opportunities to differentiate will lie over the next horizon of competition. The ties to the past are going to be put to the test by your next big competitor if you don't put them to the test yourself!

Still, in the paper we weren't just addressing industry reshaping innovation. Innovations also come from recasting products given a better understanding of a particular market, a new capability, and so on. In other words, they may be innovations from within the industry mainstream, not from a start-up with a radical new idea. Release n+1 may serve only to introduce sustaining innovations, but it still makes sense to treat them as innovations, and organize accordingly!  The size of "+1" increments (bug fixes? a feature enhancement? a new geography? ... or a new capability?) is a factor (I don't need a full multi-functional innovation team to do a bug fix release). Always focusing on what's just in front of your nose, never let's you see what's a few feet out, let alone what's coming round the corner at you... I'm all for agile. But I think agile needs a pragmatic amount of foresight, or there'll be more stumbling over than nimbly jumping the hurdles that come our way. This is a simple as a Dewey decimal scheme for releases, with longer range planning for n. releases than .n releases.

So, if we write the book (should we write the book???), I'd like to think about a set of "but" arguments and use them to motivate various discussion and process/techniques/tools areas... As you can see, "[but] we are too focused on n+1," gave rise to 3 paragraphs, and each of those deserves at least a section, if not a chapter. The neat thing that The Wheel teaches, is to wonder why. We hit that thing that just is so in our context, and we wonder why, and all of a sudden we're able to see a way past the glass wall that was reflecting our own constructed reality back at us.

Now I have to say that the first time I pointed out "but," the architects in question really went after their challenge head on and showed what can be done when you get in front of a problem and lead—with social grace and goodwill. I do have a nagging concern though, that "but" will put some architects on the defensive. I totally don't mean to make architects feel uncomfortable. Changing the outcome means changing the context, and as leaders, we need to figure out what in the context needs to change, and then lead. Sometimes, though, the context is just too hostile. The "but" we have to get around is just too tall and too wide.

11/13/08 Featuring Getting Past "But"

Cutter is featuring our Getting Past "But" report on their homepage (bottom of the page under "Sample our Research")! That is a wonderful implied compliment.

I looked around a bit on Cutter's "sample our research" pages, and this struck me:

"Col. Boyd... has become known as one of the most innovative minds in the US military. He was the father of modern maneuver warfare and the inventor of aircraft design principles that have changed the way modern fighters are conceived and built. Boyd countered the "technology for technology's sake" approach that crippled US combat readiness with his tradeoff analysis, which helped blend various design concepts, technologies, and solutions into constructions optimized for combat agility and effectiveness."

Borys Stokalski, Innovation: The Great Differentiator    

Col. Boyd had just surfaced on Lane's goodreads.com list I referenced the other day. When serendipities like that add up, I suppose I ought to read it. I never played with toy airplanes, so I guess I need to balance myself out with some lessons in leadership from the cockpit and beyond.

11/13/08 Software Architecture Workshop Group on LinkedIn

The Bredemeyer Software Architecture Workshop "alumni" group on LinkedIn is growing quickly and it has a truly remarkable member list, including a good many of the talented architects who have taught me (being that the workshop is designedly a crucible for peer development). Of course, if I was smarter I'd have learned still more from them, so don't take me as evidence of how much you can learn from being part of this group!  All that's needed now, is some of the kind of lively experience sharing we've had during the workshops! If you are a workshop alum, we'd love it if you'd join the group and help make it a meaningful and useful place to share architecting know-how, and know-what, -why, -when, -who, and... -what else and -what if!

11/15/08 Erratum

I didn't expect the copy editors to change wording in my diagrams in our executive report so I didn't look carefully at them. There's an error in the first circle of both the roadmap on page 2 and the summary on page 22, which now says "Innovation Technology, Sources" instead of "Innovation Sources." If you can't figure out what I meant by "Innovation Technology, Sources," that would explain it! The correct summary diagram is here (the roadmap just has the bullets stripped off). If you still don't know what I meant... well, the circles of innovation model section is what is being summarized in that "wheel" on the roadmap and summary.

11/17/07 Book Recommendations

11/17/08 The Value of "And" Thinking

Our field is inclined to either-or polarities. Our systems are increasingly complex, and we so want remedies to the "software problem" that the attraction to the "cure du jour" is strong—so we've seen OOP, design, components, SOA, agile, etc., create a wave of excitement and then settle into the state of practice.  Meanwhile "waterfall development" has taken a dunking in the past several years, and the antipathy has hit the mainstream. Now, it is true that even today, even ~15 years after I was first aware of the term analysis-paralysis being used on projects, we still fall foul of the analysis trap on some projects, not getting out of requirements and architecture for months and months. Generally there's some bigger thing going on, like a poorly defined mission, or high ambitions on the part of diverse stakeholders creating conflicts in direction, and there's a danger of much wheel-spinning and little traction when trying to bring unity across factions. The lore that forms around these projects creates antibodies to requirements and architecture, creating a fertile ground for the next great new thing promising that architectures can just be grown organically, self-tuning around market forces and shifts in the competitive landscape...

So, what are we to do? The Opposable Mind suggests "and thinking," integrating what is necessary to success from all the body of experience in requirements analysis, intentional and emergent architectures, design patterns, incremental and iterative development, pair programming, test-driven development, and so on. Let's take a case in point: platform development. There is a lot of evidence to support the value of product family platform-driven development (think Honda platform, not OS). Product family platforms by their nature don't have "a customer," and so there is real work to be done understanding the market segments, and the commonality and essential uniqueness across customers/markets. Not that this analysis should produce paralysis! Iterative and incremental, emergent and intentional, these need to come into play early, using Pareto tools to find the difference that makes the difference quickly and cheaply, and find which path we should pursue as we ramp up agile development.

What do I mean by "emergent" and "intentional"? Well, intentional is when we design to meet our (known and prioritized) requirements. "Emergent" is the structure that emerges as we learn and accommodate to new and changing requirements (like resolved uncertainties from an earlier cycle, differently understood requirements in the light of more context, etc.). Of course, you get emergent architecture when there is no explicit or intentional architecting—for example, in the flavor of agile that downplays architecture. (This is also called accidental architecture.)

The key, really, is "and" thinking—intentional and emergent. Collapse the learning timeframes, make the cycles much shorter, and Pareto the learning—fail faster and cheaper, improve the system concept and system structure in quick and dirty cycles, pull back, mature the system concept and the architecture. Experiment! But don't necessarily (or first) experiment with real users at scale! Do the early experiments much more cheaply, much more quickly! Refine the target, then fan out and build using an agile process but maintain an explicit focus on architecture that allows for emergent design adaptations to be intentionally assessed and explicitly incorporated into the architecture, or explicitly reworked to maintain alignment with the architecture. If the system is complex enough that it can't be built by a small team, then there must be an explicit architect role, for if the architecture is no-one's responsibility, it will give way to what is everyone's responsibility—feature delivery to the drumbeat of the incremental release clock.

Grady Booch has said "The code is the truth, but it is not the whole truth." To that I would add, the code (alone) is also a very hard truth to get one's head wrapped around—neigh impossible when the number of lines of code runs upwards of hundreds of thousands, even millions. When a system is that complex, we glob on new stuff Frankenstein style, fearful of messing with what went before. That's emergent architecture with a very accidental flavor. Or we can work with engineering discipline to maintain a better understood, more carefully managed architecture that is both intentional and emergent—an intentional architecture that is built through an incremental and iterative process that pays its dues to architecture.

Piecemeal growth leads to those romantic-looking old New England farm houses—which we have so embraced into our aesthetic that new homes are built in Bloomington Indiana with that added-onto New England farmhouse look! But have you tried to heat an old New England house? Emergent architecture still is subject to structural forces and quality demands, and these are hard to achieve unintentionally!

11/18/08 The Storm is Upon Us

Cutter is calling for papers for the Cutter IT Journal (Abstract Submission Date: 21 November 2008; Articles Due: 9 January 2009):

"Managing Enterprise Risk in a Failing Economy: Is it time for Risk Management 3.0?

Many economists believe that the risks present in the current economic downturn have the potential to repeat the Depression years of the 1930s. Already, two trillion dollars have been lost in American pension accounts; another trillion (or two) more is needed to bail out banks and now insurance companies; one in six homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth; 240,000 workers lost their jobs in October; and the big three automakers are at serious risk of declaring bankruptcy with the potential for a million jobs or more lost.

The economic crisis is not confined to the US but goes across the globe. The UK is in a recession for the first time in 17 years. The Bank of England has slashed interest rates to the lowest level in nearly 50 years in an attempt to stimulate the country's economy.

Governments across the globe are struggling in their attempts to stabilize their individual economies from the financial contagion that started with subprime mortgages and has spread to the near prime and prime mortgage markets, and then on to the financial credit, corporate credit, and consumer credit markets, including auto loans, credit cards, student loans, and so on. Trillions of dollars are being committed by governments in coordinated risk mitigation efforts to try to prevent a total global economic meltdown."

Guest Editor: Robert Charette, Email from Cutter, 11/18/08

Harvard Business Review will have a special section titled "Navigating the Downturn" in their upcoming December issue. And they sent all current subscribers a link to a free article titled "Moving Upward in a Downturn" with this in the cover email:

"Cut costs radically, reduce headcount, and hunker down until signs of a recovery are in sight—that’s the conventional script executives follow in a downturn.

But what if your company could actually improve its competitive position during a slump?

In “Moving Upward in a Downturn,” Darrell Rigby says that smart companies can exploit industry downturns to harness their unique opportunities. Rigby studied hundreds of companies and found that the recession winner placed counterintuitive bets to outperform slumping competitors. HBR published the article in 2001, after the dot-com bubble burst, but its insights remain salient and important today.

... I urge you to read it and think about how Rigby’s ideas may apply to your company.”

email to HBR subscribers, 11/17/08

I guess that's it. Feel free to panic now. Forget "hope" and "Yes, we can!" Or... not... If we let it, the underbelly of reality will smother us these next months and perhaps even years... Staring into the dark navel of our perceived misfortune self-justifies our misery—at least, I tell Sara that (though less morbidly) when she goes into a fit whenever she tells herself a story about her own mistreatment by me/others/life... I'm not saying you do that. I'm only saying don't do that. It's a trap! I know—I was fully caught in that negative navel-gazing last weekend after I got a bruising eval from an architect in a recent workshop. Well, my ego was certainly downsized with that one! (The question is, was it right-sized? Being now about the size of an atom, and still vulnerable to further imploding. Ok, I'm joking... but ... that's not an invitation to further test my resilience!)

How we frame up the narrative we tell ourselves about an event or circumstance, impacts (even shapes) the outcome we get. Our reality is constructed—we interact with external events, and make meaning of them by constructing narratives for ourselves. This is essential to memory and learning, but also to whether we are optimistic or pessimistic, energetic and creative in facing our challenges, or not. Shift happens. How we deal with the shift is up to us.

At a recent workshop, an architect noticed a fly in his salad and told the wait-person, who apologized and said "have some ice-cream, there are no animals in that." Life is funnier than anything I can make up! Isn't that just the greatest lesson in reframing?  I had just eaten the salad, and even from the vantage point of wondering what unexpected livestock I had just consumed, I was rocked by the humor and optimism in that. No-one else seemed to see the humor and I couldn't contain it, so I called Dana and told him, and he about bust a rib!

If the star of our story went around making the worst of everything, she would have scuttled fearfully away. But to her, ice-cream is a salve! Ok, now I recognize that someone else may have thought that was a horrid thing to say to someone recovering from the revulsion of a fly in their salad (and within earshot of others just finishing their salad). But I can find the whole situation funny, in part because I see it as a guileless and sincere piece of advice from someone who has a daily struggle to buy milk and bread. And in part because her frame of reference is so far from that of the person she's giving advice to, that her advice seems crass and uncompassionate, and totally inappropriate to the person she was trying to appease. These "Muriel's Wedding" moments are life's priceless joke on us. ["Muriel's Wedding" is a grit-your-teeth-ugly, steal-your-heart-redeeming, in-your-face-plebian-not-to-mention-kitsch and overcoming-stacked-odds-faith-in-humanity-restoring mixture that leaves you wondering if you loved it or hated it. That, and the Abba music that has pretty much the same effect! Ultimately, I concluded I loved it, and memorably so, because it has been years since I watched it. But, perhaps it belongs with The Holy Grail—better in my distant memory?]

Of course, Rashomon deals with these individually constructed realities, ... and the dark underbelly...

Anyway, the lesson is — I need to construct a reality, interpret even the events that threaten to derail me, with humor and optimism. It is hard, when our feet are cut out from under us in this economy... or when someone forgets they're giving feedback to a person, not a organizational machine. This is not the same as being out-of-touch with reality. How we encounter things makes such a big difference to our internal spirit and to the knock-on effect we have, and that comes back to impact our outcomes.

So, humor and optimism.

On the BodenUSA (a retail site with Brit wit and designs available in the USA) home page, the first line is:

"As the old proverb goes, one kind word can warm three winter months."

Optimism and humor. So, go buy those 2 good boots and a chunky knit. Keep the wheels of commerce spinning this season. And spread the kind words. As money gets tighter, we still have a wealth of kindness to share.

11/17/08 Another Book Recommendation, and The Wheel

Daniel Stroe recommended Andy Hunt's Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware, adding:

'I like one of his quotes, a Plutarch dictum, " The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."'

This put The Wheel in a new light for Daniel—the key lesson it conveys is that "the collective mind has to be kindled." Daniel has been the first to confess, and brave he is, that he at first thought I placed too much emphasize on The Wheel in Getting Past "But". It is one thing to shrug my choice off as foolishness, and another to be open to the notion that there must be some bigger sense to be made of it. I'm so glad Daniel did leave this possibility open because his conclusion, that kindling of the collective mind, is the essential message of the story. I'm so happy to have those words to express it, thanks to Daniel and his intellectual engagement with Refactor Your "Wetware" and The Wheel! That is classical integrationist thinking. So, add The Opposable Mind to the list— remembering that it was Daniel who recommended The Opposable Mind to me in the first place!

Of course, "kindling the collective mind" is a superb condensation of passages like:

Antoine de Saint Exupery [wrote] “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” This quote resonates, but not because we think that sailors necessarily make better shipbuilders. It is, instead, that the idea of creating a shared yearning, a common quest, is so important to communal creative endeavor. Then, building the vessel that will take us where we want to go will be an inspired venture that generates goodwill enough to surmount the challenges. on page 15 of Getting Past "but"

I'm so glad to have the term. And Daniel's frankness. Now, I did recognize that using The Wheel was a risk, but I took it anyway because it contains the lessons we, as an industry, have been wrestling with, lessons which are out there, but which are spread out in this book and that and that ... and that. The Wheel is also a great test of attitude—if we allow ourselves to think it is irrelevant (just a children's story), we've told ourselves a story of our own creating that prevents us from seeing all that it holds. I'm so glad Daniel held on to the hope that my (extensive) use of The Wheel would reveal some quintessential nugget of wisdom if he let the possibility remain open. Ah, "first to dream, and then to do." In addition to exhorting us to kindle the collective mind to get big things done, The Wheel, of course, is very much about how to kindle the collective mind, and what to do.

Daniel (whom I've characterized as my scout), pointed me to the movie The Emperor's Club some 18 months ago. Now, I have to confess I have also come to see the central thesis (defined in the opening scene and elaborated in the movie) "Finis origine pendet: The end depends on the beginning" in a new light. It is not just what we bring—our experiences and history, our genes, our personality. It is also our expectations and attitudes. Attitudes shape outcomes. Dana says "goodwill is the silver bullet." A positive attitude, positive expectations, openness—a willingness to suspend disbelief, a willingness to have the fire be kindled, these are critical forces in the crucible of individual and group creativity and learning. 

For me, two phrases that stand out as gems in the crucible of software experience are (Booch's) "awe-struck seeking" and (Daniel+Andy Hunt's) "kindling a fire in the collective mind." These allow us to reach, to accomplish great things—with and through other people.

The same drivers that make architecture essential, make it mission critical that we take that "with and through other people" seriously. We just can't build complex systems alone, nor, generally, even in a small, closely-knit team of super-developers. Even if we could, on our own, design a great architecture, we'd need to get it out of our head and into the heads and hearts of other people to build and evolve it. And more likely, to design a great architecture, we need to collaborate.

11/20/08 Today's Reading

I've been reading Proust and the Squid. Why do I think it is relevant? This sums up the attraction:

'Wolf focuses on the physiological character of the human brain, which holds at its disposal "three ingenious design principles: the capacity to make new connections among older structures; the capacity to form areas of exquisitely precise specialization for recognizing patterns in information, and the ability to learn to recruit and connect information from these areas automatically."' Washington Post Review

Ok, I'm also reading Systems Engineering with SysML/UML: Modeling, Analysis, Design.     

11//20/08 Birth of the Chaordic Age

Jonathan (at least, I think it was Jonathan), recommended Birth of the Chaordic Age at a recent workshop. This from the summary on Amazon:

"Hock introduces the concept of chaordic, an adjective referring to the behavior of any self-governing organism, organization or system which blends elements of order and chaos. Chaordic organization is one able to maintain a harmonious order-disorder balance, characterized by principles of evolution; its nature includes being self-organizing, self-governing, adaptive, and nonlinear."

Jonathan was thinking it would be more interesting to folk in the financial industry. Still, the notion of chaordic as described above seems broadly applicable. Certainly the synopsis sounds just right for an intentional and emergent approach to architecture.

Also at that workshop (Role of the Architect), Darren recommended Rob Cross' tool for mapping networks of influence.

11/20/08 Deeper Undercover

My undercover journal has increased in hits to the point where it tracks at about half as many hits as my more sterile and superficial, but less wordy, "public" version. The return rate on guests to this site is also up. That's all very nice, but it makes me self-conscious! So, I've decided to create an undercover-undercover journal. Grin. It's just hard to draw the line, to find the right balance of interesting (to me) and professional (to you). So, this version will still be wordy, but I'll try to exclude the entries with too much me in them! This entry, for example, would have to be axed, except that if I tell you I'll try to put put less me on this page, then hopefully you'll hold me to the promise if I falter!

11/21/08 Organizational Considerations and Reuse

  • Danielle Fafchamps, Organizational Factors and Reuse, IEEE Software archive Volume 11 , Issue 5 (September 1994) Pages: 31 - 41 Year of Publication: 1994 ISSN:0740-7459 

Danielle has a PhD in anthropology, and she was a member of our Flexible Software Factory project team under Martin Griss in the Software Technology Labs at HP Labs in the '93/94 timeframe.

Of course, there's also Martin Griss' compilation of all he learned about reuse in Software Reuse: Achitecture, Process and Organization for Business Success, by Ivar Jacobson, M. Griss, P. Jonsson, 1997.

For a different take, see The Selfish Class, by Foote and Yoder

11/21/08 Dreams, Goals and Journals

Sara is in a Writer's Circle for girls ages 8-14. We just got email to say they are having a special event early in the New Year. The agenda:

What are your dreams? How have great leaders of the past and present made their dreams a reality? This workshop will focus on using writing to describe your dreams and your talents, and to reflect on ways that you can use your talents to make your dreams a reality. You’ll make a personalized journal to keep track of your dreams and your progress towards your goals.

Sisters of the Flying Fountain Pen writer's group email, 11/21/08

11/21/08 Great Grove Graphics Example

UCSF Strategic Vision for Educational Technology 2003-2008

11/22/08 Clouds From Both Sides

I was scanning in some archman drawings that were backlogged, waiting for an idle Saturday night I guess. And I came across a sketch of clouds and boxes, meaning we start out with uncertain, fuzzy ideas and work towards boxes, that become constraints—building blocks that enable, and boxes that box us in. Then I remembered Rumbaugh serenading Booch. And it occurred to me that we ought to take another look at clouds. Arhitecting under uncertainty--clouds become boxes; they enable and constrainSo, I looked at the original lyrics and they are perfect!

"So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all"

Both Sides, Now lyrics by Joni Mitchell

All the things we'd do differently, if we realized that when we start out we're dealing with clouds not boxes! Indeed, we need to be working with clouds, not boxes. Given our bias to action, we tend to rush forward treating the first concepts as boxes to build on, and they become boxes we build within. We do need to spend some time, not too much mind, seeing the possibility of the clouds—feather canyons everywhere. Not just rain and snow and obstacles of our own inventing, of not doing.    

If you're trying to make sense of the annotations—I was thinking about our early draft architectural elements during the first passes at Conceptual Architecture, and reminding myself that they are just our first stab at architecture elements. As we iteratively explore different views and experiment with alternatives, we refine and refactor the responsibilities of the architectural elements. It would be good if we recognized that early on, we are working with constructs that we need to treat as highly mutable; when they stabilize and we gain confidence in our boxes we can put them under some degree of change control, but until then we need to work to keep them from becoming hard-cast in our own minds too soon. Now, I'm not saying we have to draw them as clouds, but it is good to remind ourselves to treat our "boxes" in early iterations with a very healthy degree of skepticism and a heavy hand on the eraser.

12/23/08 Your Help Getting Past My "But..."

Over the Christmas slow-down, I plan to draft the Getting Past But book. It might well need a new title, but right now I like the exhortation to me to get past all the "but" arguments I put in the way of getting it done. So, if you have enthusiastic collaborative input; good, positive things to say; and helpful ideas for extending the Getting Past But paper, I'd very much welcome them. If you have criticism, please reserve your comment until I'm over the creative hump of getting the thing drafted. As always, there's no need to take a baseball bat to my ego—I have my own internal Dobby to beat myself up.

Why "Getting Past But"? Well, I think it has a broader audience, and it is that audience that architects keep asking for help with. So I figured that is more urgent than anything else. Help change the environment so that architects can get good, right systems built and be successful in delivering value to their business. If you want to change the outcome, don't try to change the people, change the context! You know, using elephants to smuggle donkeys.

11/25/08 Right or Appropriate

In the past two days I've seen two architects in very different contexts say they are not about creating a "right" architecture, but an "appropriate" one, or one that fits the organization's capabilities—by implication it is a compromise on "right." So, I just want to re-iterate that when we say "right" (as in "good, right, and successful"), we define "right" in that context to mean it meets stakeholder needs and fits the context. In other words, the system has good fit-to-purpose and fit-to-context (potentially across market segments or customer groups). This necessarily entails compromises, or judgment calls on what is good enough, on the part of the system definition team (including, if not led by, the architect) as they set priorities and make tradeoffs.

So, we're all in agreement that architecture is about compromise, tradeoffs, good-enough. If the word "right" implies "perfection" in your community, then steer clear of it! Don't let a word stand in the way of doing what is right—ok, ok, important! Grin.

And we need to bear in mind that good-enough is only good-enough where we need to be at parity with competition; there are some dimensions along which we need to excel, if this is a system that impacts our business' competitiveness in the marketplace. We need to understand where lies the heart of differentiation for our system or business, and defend that.

Unless you're Steve Jobs. Then brook no compromise. Just kidding. Even Steve jobs gives up on something—in his case, he has given over the lower end of the market to others, because perfection costs.

Roger Martin calls for a "no tradeoffs" mindset, but fundamentally there are going to be choices to be made. One choice may be to set BHAGs and push the circle of excellence to its outer limits. But there will be outer limits, and so there will be tradeoffs. But we can strive to achieve more than we at first expect. Set goals that stretch beyond what our first instincts told us. Find the integrative solution that gives us more of both, rather than less of one to get more of the other (the stuff of tradeoffs). 

11/25/08 When Talking is Doing

I have my own set of "word allergens," and IBM's "Talking uses energy, doing creates it. Stop talking. Start doing." commercials number among them. Grin. Of course I know full well that the defending reaction would be that by implication we've already been doing a lot of talking and we're just procrastinating on the acting. Nonetheless, messages like these borrow energy from, and give energy to, those of the "ready, fire, aim" mindset—those who would think we should hold no truck with talk, and get on with doing.

The trouble is, unless we talk, unless we enter into careful and rich dialog, we are not going to understand the needs and constraints, the frustrations and the goals, the good ideas others have, and the good ideas we get when we interact with others, that open up avenues to opportunity. As architects, we work across—across the system, across products, across business units. Unless we actually enter into dialogs, unless we draw out the common needs and the differentiating differences across these stakeholders (in the business as well customers), we can't do our job of architecting—well, we're not going to get to "right"—to a solution that balances needs and exploits opportunities to create strategic value for the business by taking a system approach.

Then there is the whole "model out loud"/"model in pairs/small teams" and "get stakeholder input early and often, as the architecture is iteratively designed" set of values that draw the agile principles into architecting—these make talking an integral part of doing. And, for larger systems, there's getting the architecture out of the head of the architect(s) and into the heads and hearts of the full development team, and that takes talking and drawing, and writing, and more talking, explaining, defending, amending, and justifying and more drawing, to do! Did I mention talking and drawing? Ah, but still not enough! Never underestimate how much talking and drawing is part of doing for the architect! We need to draw out good ideas and opportunities in system concept generation. We need to draw on the expertise and the perspectives of others in system design. And drawing, modeling, graphically facilitating, helps the conversations be focused and highly motivating—when input shows up on the shared picture there's that  "I see what you mean" integrative response and "our picture" kind of ownership. Strategic conversations, exploratory conversations, rapport building conversations, these are all important when we recognize that building complex systems is a socio-technical process.

11/26/08 Congrats Bredemeyer!

This just in:

[Subject] "Congratulations on Bredemeyer Consulting's 10-Year Anniversary!

Hi Ruth and Dana,

I just visited your website and saw this announced.  What a milestone!  Well done!

--Elizabeth" personal email, 11/25/08

That made our day! Our clients are the world's best in every way. Top companies, top people and you are really, really all-around good to work with!  I was reading "What's Missing from the Agile Manifesto" and that joy point struck me. The people around us deserve joy, and how is it created? The opportunity to do good work and be recognized for it goes a long way. There is a ton of recognition in Elizabeth's simple words. Recognition of a lot of hard work and sacrifice to the "cause" of helping to birth a field—one that combines discipline and art, craft and engineering, invention and application of lessons from experience, all these things and more. During our first year, together we earned less than one full-time equivalent in salary, and then gradually built up to the point where we could pay ourselves what we were earning at HP when we left. What we have given up in salary and benefits and career growth at HP, we gained in being able to set the agenda—pursue what we believed was important for architects, figuring that out, building a portfolio around it, growing ourselves and our insight. There's sacrifice but there's also joy in that. And joy especially when someone else who's been on both sides of the Fortune 50 and small company side of the fence, takes the time out to implicitly acknowledge all that it took to get us to this point.  

11/27/08 Thankful for...

Daniel sent a thoughtful Thanksgiving note, congratulating us on Bredemeyer's 10th, and saying "I am glad that I had the great chance meeting you." That's so heart-warming—to be someone it was good to get to meet. I assume that is a recognition that I go through life with my internal lights brightly lit, and I so know what it feels like to appreciate that in others! I get to work with such great people. Dana too—he'll come back from a workshop and go "ah, this guy and this, there's such a sense of simpatico" and he means with respect to architecture but also with respect to life. Embracing life with gusto, seeking, exploring, standing still only to see, and feel and understand, not to let the dust settle. Remarkable people. People who have enriched my life, challenged and taught me (mostly gently, always generously), inspired me, made me laugh (special thanks Kurt for his Thanksgiving note), and ... much more that I'd write if I didn't have to go back to the (extended)  family and be sociable. 

11/27/08 Microsoft's Handbook of Software Architecture

This, by way of email from Rob Boucher at Microsoft:

"Main link. http://www.codeplex.com/AppArchGuide

Microsoft patterns & practices is rewriting the Application Architecture Guide published back in 2002. (See OLDER guide at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms954595.aspx) . This is probably one of those few projects that any developer (at least in the Microsoft space) should know about. It’s guidance for building solutions on the MS platform, but we kept much of it applicable to non-Microsoft cases as well.

We are currently in the BETA2 for the project, with a release after Dec 15th 2008 and before Jan 15th 2009.

This project is made up of a book, a knowledge base and a public contribution site. The Knowledge Base greatly expands on the information provided in the book. There are How Tos, Cheat Sheets to help you pick technologies, videos, sample applications with code(planned) and more that will be expanded over the next month or so. The contribution site is for the public to add their code and guidance as well.

Guide site http://www.codeplex.com/AppArchGuide - in BETA2

Knowledge Base http://www.codeplex.com/AppArch

Contribution site http://www.codeplex.com/AppArchcontrib (just setup)"

11/28/08 Reuse and Complexity

Charlie Alfred has posted article 4 in his complexity series, dealing with product platform/reuse decision making from a complexity frame of reference. Great post!     

11/28/08 Architect Soft Skills

It's been a few weeks since I checked in on Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz, and see he has a nice post on architect soft skills. The point about the king under Organizational Politics, for example, is classic Arnon wit and wisdom:

"You just look at the alternatives; analyze the merits vs. the problem at hand, and may the best option win. This works out well if you are the king (or work alone which makes you the king by default) -- otherwise there are other people and they won't necessarily agree with you."

Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz, Architect Soft Skills, 10/26/08

11/29/08 Power of Pictures

Some useful links on visualization:

The power of visual analogy:

'In education, a Grace Hopper nanosecond is a prop used by a teacher to help students understand an abstract concept. The teaching tool got its name from the foot-long lengths of telephone wire that Admiral Grace Hopper used to give out at lectures. Admiral Hopper used the wires to illustrate how in one billionth of second (a nanosecond) an electronic signal can travel almost twelve inches.

...Admiral Hopper believed that by providing the learner with a concrete analogy already in their frame of reference, it was possible to absorb and even understand an abstract concept that might otherwise be too difficult to comprehend.'   Grace Hopper naosecond, Whatis.com

Architecture as a Language, by Markus Völter.

11/29/08 Miscellaneous Architects Architecting Architecture Links

11/29/08 Custom is as Custom Does

A man, recently married, watches his wife prepare a roast for dinner. To his amazement, just before placing the roast into the pan, she slices off about two inches of meat on either end and throws them away. When he expresses surprise at her actions, she replies, "It makes the roast taste better. Besides, my mother always did it that way." Curious, he calls his wife's mother and asks her if she also cuts the ends off of her roasts, and why. "Because it makes the roast taste better. Besides, my mother always did it that way." Determined to find out where this custom comes from, he calls his wife's grandmother, and when she agrees that she, too, cuts off the ends of her roasts when she prepares them, he asks why. Promptly, she replies, "Because my pan is too small to hold it all."

Ted Neward, Pragmatic Architecture: Layering, October 2006

11/29/08 Getting Past "But..."

On collaboration among experts with different perspectives, Armano says:

"Resist the urge to become defensive and territorial—put that energy into developing an acute sense of curiosity and optimism.  Become like a child." 

Creativity 2.E: The Evolution of Creativity is Underway,  David Armano, 6/24/06

Armano makes the same point as our Getting Past "But" executive report, but in 2 sentences. Back to the drawing board! Even there, I was prefaced by Frank Lloyd Wright:

"An architect's most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board — and a wrecking bar at the site. " – Frank Lloyd Wright

11/29/08 Misc. Innovation Links

11/30/08 Why Innovation Matters

Innovation in a downturn

11/30/08 Note to Architects: Career growth is about moving from "how to" to "where to"

'One entrepreneur said to me over the weekend, "You know what my problem is? I'm the how-to guy. I've got all the knowledge needed to run the business and give the clients what they want.

But that's not going to get the business anywhere spectacular, fast. I've got to become the where-to guy." That means clearing the desk and becoming the strategist, the leader, the innovator.'

Why Innovation Matters, blogs.theage.com.au, 9/5/07 

Ok, the Visual Architecting Process is about both: "where to," and then "how to," and "how to" is a lot about tuning up "where to."

 

 
Feedback: If you want to rave about my journal, I can be reached using the obvious traceinthesand.com handle. If you want to rant, its ruth@traceinthesand.ru.cz. Just kidding, I welcome input, discussion and feedback on any of the topics in this Trace in The Sand Journal, my blog, and the Resources for Architects website, or, for that matter, anything relevant to architects, architecting and architecture! I commit to using what you teach me, to convey it as best I can, help your lessons reach as far as I can spread them. I try to do this ethically, giving you credit whenever I can, but protecting confidentiality as a first priority.
 

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Photo credit: Dana Bredemeyer, 11/1/08.

Photo credit: Dana Bredemeyer

Copyright © 2008 by Ruth Malan
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Page Created: November 1, 2008
Last Modified: December 01, 2011