A Trace in the Sand

by Ruth Malan





October 2009

10/1/09 Your Co-ordinates

This journal contains notes I take as I explore what it takes to be a great software, systems and enterprise architect.

So, a new leaf. Until October entries accumulate, you can catch up on prior month's entries (left sidebar). I've also linked to many enterprise architecture and software architecture bloggers in the left column.

10/1/09 Re-Architecting the Requirements, and Agile Development: in Building Architecture!

I stumbled upon a neat example in the building architecture space where the architects shifted the requirements (literally) and also where the construction began in the midst of the design work. And what did the architects achieve? Boosting the bottom line and better integration of people-oriented spaces.

10/2/09 An Eye for an Eye Makes the World World Blind

Mohandas Gandhi was born October 2, 1869. What a good thing, that was! For South Africa (Gandhi influenced Nelson Mandela) and the US (he influenced Martin Luther King). When Cara Dillon sang There Were Roses last Saturday night, I thought of how we still do that eye for an eye thing, and how remarkable is was that Gandhi used peace and love as the lever that moved his world, and my world, and our world. (At the end of the song she invited the audience to join in the chorus. Obviously Dana was closest to me, so I have a video of Dana singing harmony with Cara Dillon, which is neat.)   

10/2/09 Telling Visuals!

and for fun:

  • Christoph Niemann's I confess (don't worry, it's nothing like David Letterman)

but then, no-one appears to have told Christoph about my solution to the "sleep: it's actually complicated" thing...

10/3/09 Collective Memory and Visualization After Design is Built

Another post from the building architecture space raises an interesting thought for us, relative to "architecture mining." It has to do with harvesting the collective memory of the development organization to build up a richer (set of) model(s) of the system than static and dynamic analysis tools alone could do.

It is interesting that digital preservation is being considered for buildings and even cities, which parallels Grady Booch's mission to preserve code for landmark software systems. Thank goodness he saw that need, and has thrown his passion and leadership into it, for he's right--time has already washed away the code traces of important genre launching and genre defining systems, and we need to act to identify and save these stand-out pieces of our collective history.      

10/3/09 Gestalt Principles

Looking at the Gestalt Principles for visual perception, I was wondering if we were to draw out the "Gestalt" (unified whole) principles for architectural design, what would they be? In other words, what contributes to system integrity? We can simplify that somewhat, and ask what principles help achieve structural integrity? The "Booch fundamentals."  What else?

Eb Rechtin said: "The essence of systems is relationships, interfaces, form, fit and function. The essence of architecting is structuring, simplification, compromise and balance."

Hmm, would Grady accept Compromise into the set, do you think? Then SCARS would have a principle for each letter. That's sort of backing into it, but serendipity can be quite inventive. Nah. Tradeoffs would be better, and then you get STARS! (What Darth-Don sees.) However one words it, I guess I'm saying that we need, in the set of fundamentals, something to do with finding the integrative solution that balances interacting and even conflicting cross-cutting concerns.

Now I am going to have to go digging around in the work of the other architecture and systems thinking giants too, and see if there is something more there to distill into a minimalist but satisfying set. First, I suppose I'd be swimming against the flow, since many define system integrity to be what I think of as structural integrity (e.g., not brittle both from a failure and a modifiability standpoint). But I don't stand on ceremony just for the sake it. And I think how we define system integrity should be informed by systems thinking. For example, system integrity should explicitly address fit to context and to purpose as well as the "as if of one mind" characteristics like consistency and harmony. I went after the integrity point back in January (delight and excellence), and need to revisit it.

Out hiking today, I told my kids about the Wright brothers using the strategy of switching sides in their arguments. Dana added "I can see that--they were determined to find a solution! When you work on a lot of problems, you learn that means you fail a lot. Arguing the other's position is a great way to discover the weaknesses and strengths of an approach." Or something like that. I'm paraphrasing. From memory. We were hiking, remember. In the woods. With the dog. And it was lovely--wind blowing through the trees just hard enough to be full of sound, but not so hard as to stir caution in me. Yin and Yang

How does that relate to Gestalt? Well, yin and yang, I suppose. Complementary opposites that help us understand the whole.



10/3/09 Systems References

10/3/09 Just knick-knacks

Some little stories buried in these, that might come in handy some time...

10/3/09 Less is More

That being the case, I scrapped most of this entry. :-)

A word about Kolya: to sum it up, I suppose I'd say it is about how we think we're nurturing our children, but they're really growing us!   

10/4/09 Boundary Conditions and Interfaces

Catching up on xkcd; I hadn't even finished reading this one, when my son said "It doesn't work if you're under 14." His immediate test of xkcd's dating rule, and his instinct to then find just where it falls down, is certainly right in the ballpark for engineers and architects. We learn (if we're paying attention we learn this early) that the boundary conditions need to be explicit, or they'll be fail points. Then we learn that it's the boundary conditions and interfaces and integration points! We pay attention to the (Booch) fundamentals, the separation of concerns, the abstractions, the balance of responsibilities, and then we have to watch those interfaces! And watch for holes in the fences!  Rabbits. Mixed metaphors.Encapsulating Moore's "inside the tornado" and "mainstreet" change velocity differences

Interfaces! The strength and the weakness of systems! Parts, chunked according to the paradigm du jour (components, services,...), give us realms of intellectual and organizational control--units of innovation and experiment, units of expertise, units behind the walls of which we can simplify and refactor and otherwise manage (or not) "technical debt" or local integrity of the part. Ah, but parts needs-must collaborate to produce system outcomes, and therein lies the rub. Literally, for many physical systems. But no less truly for software systems

10/4/09 Visualized in His Mind's Eye

Dana told me the story of the Raurimu Spiral in New Zealand, and I looked it up. Howitt's telling of the story is quite charming! We have lots of stories like that in software. Our heroic integrations no doubt influenced this xkcd.

By all accounts Holmes visualized the layout [for the Raurimu Spiral] in his imagination. --wikipedia

The reason Raurimu came up, is that we were rambling in the IU Research and Nature Preserve bordering the Griffy Preserve, and part of the trail goes along an abandoned railway cut. The cut goes through some quite challenging terrain, and must have been expensive--and onerous back in the days it was done. The striking thing is, it ends where a bridge was obviously planned. But it would have to be a long and high bridge to cross the span at that point. The story has been lost in time, but either they made some very serious engineering misjudgments (it sure looks like they did!) or they ran out of money. Or some of both... This Google satellite image (taken in winter) gives some impression of the span, but not of the elevation at the points that need to be connected.

Why the architect needs to scout out challenge and risk ahead...

We're hiking, Sara's grumbling about being bored (amidst all that beauty?!), and I'm thinking hey, this is why the architect has to do more than run out front and lay tracks in front of the train! The architect has to scout out what lies ahead, to know when a bridge will just be too expensive, or otherwise not feasible.

"I found quite a good definition of what a software architect has to do in the audio commentary of one of the Lord of the Rings movies. Peter Jackson described how the script always changed just days or hours before shooting and he compared the script writers to someone who 'ferociously lays down tracks in front of a running train.'

Software architects must ensure that their train (software project) goes in the right direction by laying down the tracks, that it stays on the rails and that it arrives at the destination in time. Passengers (programmers, managers, ...) have to feel comfortable and safe. The train should run smoothly, even in hard weather."

-- On the Definition of an Architect, by Mike, posted on Michael Platt's blog on March 30, 2006.

10/10/09: If you noticed that I just inserted entries between 10/4 and 10/8--yes, I pulled a few entries out of the "pound-down-and-knead-again holding tank"... (It's the entries that I left in the tank that are the reason I decided to create it! Grin.)  I especially like the lesson about the bridge, and the need, in this YAGNI world, for the architect to run ahead and scout out what will be make-or-break.

10/5/09 A Small Window on the "Integrating Acquisitions" Problem

"It will take a few weeks to fully update all of your account history and you will receive an email notification when this is complete. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we combine more than 74 million accounts into one loyalty program." -- email, Delta SkyMiles program  

(side note: I fly by schedule, so I have lots of dis-loyalty accounts. Moms, and I don't just mean Jewish moms, constantly put their family ahead of their personal comfort. Then there's me. I fly by schedule, and use Dana's miles bank to upgrade transcontinental flights. Best of both worlds.)

10/5/09 Resource Manager Patternsruth@traceinthesand.ru.cz: The public interface to my uncertainty and experiment!

There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.

-- Willa Cather

10/5/09 Inspiring Stumbles!

I stumbled upon this wonderful site: Portal to the Universe. I guess it is to astronomy what Matter Network is to the environment.

And have you seen this--high school kids have built a diesel-hybrid race car that goes from 0-60 in four seconds. The car currently gets 60+ mpg, but the students hope to break 100 mpg so they'll be eligible to win the Automotive X-Prize. Wow! High school kids!

10/6/09 We Made the History!

Alerted by one Grady Booch's slides, I went to the OO[AD] History Map on wikipedia. It's cool that Fusion, and even Team Fusion, made it onto the map. Actually, I think the map should show Fusion feeding into the UML because Reed Letsinger from our Team Fusion team was on the UML core team (led by the "Three Amigos") but also because Fusion created the idea in the mind of the OO community that these different approaches were complementary and worth, well, fusing. Grady Booch (Booch) and Jim Rumbaugh (OMT) and Rebecca Wirfs-Brock (RDD), among others, did ground-breaking work, and Derek Coleman and his team moved it forward in important ways (OOA and D, structure and behavior, etc.). Of course, I am biased by the unique perspective I have, and the gratitude I have for the shaping influence Derek Coleman and Fusion had on my outlook and career. If I had to draw the roots of VAP, Fusion, it's antecedents and [the] UML would be most prominent, as well as Evo Fusion (Todd Cotton's blending of Tom Gilb's EVO with Fusion to create an early and profoundly influential iterative and incremental process). Fusion, Evo Fusion and architecture were the three "legs" of Team Fusion. I should also say though, that Grady Booch's Object-Oriented Design (1991) was a watershed event for me, like so many of us who'd launched into object-oriented development in that timeframe--it gave us a much better understanding of what we were doing, and thinking tools to manipulate conceptual constructs and reason about systems with a quite different structure than the procedural paradigm we "grew up" in.

10/6/09 Workshop Update

The Software Architecture Workshop we are teaching in The Netherlands in December has only 3 spots open (some that are tentatively "taken" may open back up; lots of budget uncertainty in this economy!). Still, if you want to take the class in Europe this year, I suggest you act fast! The class is being run through ESI, and you need to enroll directly with them. Dana Bredemeyer is scheduled to teach that one. When clients want Dana over me, I tell them I'm fine with that--I think he's great too. Mostly they have no idea just what that means. :-) But, one of the architects enrolled in the upcoming open enrollment workshop I'll be teaching in Chicago in December, sits across from an architect who has taken both the Software Architecture Workshop and the Role of the Architect Workshop from me. It's neat when an architect recommends my workshops to himself (takes a second) and his peers! This is important because we do no marketing and sales (beyond reminders here and on the Bredemeyer Resources for Software Architects site)--and it works, since more than 80% of our work every year is with clients we've already worked with.

10/8/09 Why We Need the UML! (Metaphorically Speaking)

Not that you need any persuading, but I thought this is a neat demonstration of the need for visual language:

I've used Gyorgy Ligeti’s abstract graphical language for music notation to make related points (in the Role workshop), and came across this:

I'm battling a virus (of the make me sick sort) so I'll just leave you with this link on visualizing music.

10/8/09 Ready for Tomorrow?

"To exaggerate somewhat--but only a little--anything is possible with software, if not today, then tomorrow."

-- Does IT Matter? An HBR Debate, HBR, June 2003

10/8/09 To Be or Not to Be (the Local Community Tech Hero)

10/8/09 Bezos Says It Best: Strategy Should Happen Fractally!

Who is setting strategic direction for Amazon? At the very beginning it was just you, sitting in a car on the way from New York to Seattle, making all the plans. Are you still making them all?

Oh, heavens, no. We have a group called the S Team—S meaning “senior”—that stays abreast of what the company is working on and delves into strategy issues. It meets for about four hours every Tuesday. Once or twice a year the S Team also gets together in a two-day meeting where different ideas are explored. Homework is assigned ahead of time. A lot of the things discussed in those meetings are not that urgent—we’re a few years out and can really think and talk about them at length. Eventually we have to choose just a couple of things, if they’re big, and make bets.

The key is to ensure that this happens fractally, too, not just at the top. The guy who leads Fulfillment by Amazon, which is the web service we provide to let people use our fulfillment center network as a big computer peripheral, is making sure the strategic thinking happens for that business in a similar way. At different scale levels it’s happening everywhere in the company. And the most important thing is that all of it is informed by a cultural point of view. There’s a great Alan Kay quote: “Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.” Some of our strategic capability comes from that.

-- "The Institutional Yes An Interview with Jeff Bezos," by Julia Kirby and Thomas A. Stewart, HBR, Oct 2007

Alan Kay has served me well too!

1/2/10: Then again, xkcd is acute, as always (remember to scroll over).

10/8/09 On the Mend -- or at Least Enough to Think Optimistically!

I was knocked off my feet by a virus (or something) for the last two days, and this is just not something that happens to me (well the last time was December 2006)! And I distinctly do not like it! Lots of time to think, but no tolerance for movement, light or sound which just left me inside my own head! I wish I had time to jot and sketch some of those ideas for you, really I do. But now I'm two days off on my tight schedule!

10/9/09 Wait a Minute!

I tried the "I'm feeling lucky" Google search on "ruth malan say next" -- it works!  I still don't know what she'll say next, but Google's already on it!


So I tried "think optimistically architecture" and my journal comes up second--with an entry I wrote last night! (Ok, I had the date wrong yesterday--it's disorienting to have two days stolen right out from under my feet.) Google will take a lot of beating, because Google invests heavily in its trawling, not just its algorithms!

I use Goodsearch (riding Yahoo!) as much as I reasonably can (I'm trying to set an example for the other families associated with our kids' school, who so far are disengaged), and that gives me a window on how superior the Google algorithms are! But, Goodsearch has a winning idea--share half the proceeds of siphoning off do-gooders search traffic with the do-gooders' non-profit-of-choice. (There are many angles on diverting cash from corporate and individual purses. You've just got to get a little ingenious. And then even Google has a potential Achilles' heel.)

Back to "think optimistically architecture" -- I like the result (The Optimistically Critical Architect)  that comes up first! I do find that there are ways of asking questions that are thinly-veiled criticisms, and there are ways of asking questions that are oriented towards understanding and collaboration. There are also ways to embed the question into the process, so it gets raised by a neutral process step. Like, "walk us through how this design meets this goal (or principle, etc.)" is a process-driven break-point where the team often finds gaps and inconsistencies for themselves, or collaboratively with architect reviewers. If the architect wants to be a hero, the architect will find problems and fix them--in a way that makes it clear that he's the one with the smarts. If the architect wants to be a leader, the architect will find ways to empower the team to achieve excellence. I want to highlight this sentence, for Adam puts it way better than I (and I've made numerous stabs at it):

"We must communicate our views—sensitively, whenever possible; bluntly, when necessary; and harshly, never."

-- Adam Bonanno, The Optimistically Critical Architect

As far as the writing goes, De Bono's Six Hats doesn't leave me stunned (the style is dogmatic and it is quite repetitive; oh, don't look at me, I know this pot is black!). But as good ideas go, paying attention to cycling through the states that the 6 hats represents, is tip-top! In particular, I'm referring to the black hat (objective, critical, etc.) and the green and yellow hats (exploratory) and the red hat (emotion and intuition). The white hat (just the facts, nothing but the facts) and the blue hat (process) are critical too. I just mentioned the black versus green/yellow/red hats as ways to help surface problems and opportunities in a more team-oriented way. (The idea is everyone has to participate in every "hat" state.)  

10/11/09: Context: Lest you think this post was prompted by self-absorption, I'll explain the context. I tried Goodsearch on the Nobel Peace Prize news early on the morning of the 9th. Nada! Zip! So I tried the same search phrase on Google. All the breaking news. So I thought: ok, Google is right on breaking news, but how about quiet backwaters places? Then I remembered someone doing a "what will XXX say next?" Google feeling lucky search at TED, and I tried "ruth malan say next." That was worth a chuckle, but still didn't answer my question. So I picked my last entry from the night before and added architecture because "think optimistically" was too generic to be fair, and wallah! My site was second. Now you know exactly how my mind works. I don't know why I thought to test Google on the future before the immediate past. But you do. You, and Google no doubt. 

10/16/09: Of course, this was an example of the observation effect (I do like Darth Don's "Meta-Architecture Introspection Paradox") applied to Google searches--having written this entry, it is what now comes up when one Googles "think optimistically architecture"!

10/9/09 Nobel Peace Prize

Today, Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize and with it a message from the world to: "encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism."

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the committee said. -- CNN World, 10/9/09

Dana, seeing a picture of Obama earlier this week, groaned heart-wrenchingly "He's aged 10 years!" Working against resistance, often potently negative resistance, is spirit-wearying. It is so great that the world is sending this message to Obama--and to all of us: hope and concerted, unflagging action towards making this a better world is a top global priority and America needs to step up to its role on the global leadership stage, tackling the huge moral imperatives of our time.

10/9/09 SATURN Call for Papers

"Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute SATURN 2010 Conference Call for Proposals Now Open Deadline for Submission is November 9, 2009

October 1, 2009 - Pittsburgh, Pa., - The SEI Architecture Technology User Network (SATURN) Conference 2010 brings together experts from around the world to exchange best architecture-centric practices in developing, acquiring, and maintaining software-reliant systems. Architects at all levels meet to share ideas and lessons learned, network, and learn about new and existing technologies.

Call for Proposals Now Open

The SATURN 2010 Conference theme is Architecting for Change. The SEI SATURN 2010 committee is seeking experience reports and discussions of architecture methods, techniques, and practices that enable organizations to continue to meet their business and customer goals in the face of persistent change. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to o  managing system evolution through architecture-centric practices o  preserving architectural support for important system qualities while moving to new technologies o  case studies of architecting for change o  techniques, methods, tools, and processes that support the ability to design for change o  economic and managerial considerations for architecting in a changing environment o  architecture reconstruction and conformance o  dealing with technology obsolescence o  using agile or open approaches to deal effectively with architecture in a changing environment o  staging architectural decisions to account for resource constraints and changing business goals o  enabling change through self-adapting systems

Deadline for Call for Proposal Submissions is November 9, 2009.

For more information visit the SATURN 2010 website at www.sei.cmu.edu/saturn/2010."

10/9/09 XKCD

Everyone (I like) loves xkcd (at least most of the time) and this one is one of my all time favorites! Very astute--for a guy. ;)

10/10/09 The Devil's Dictionary

Going back to The Devil's Dictionary for quotes for the leader page to some new competency modules, it occurs to me--forget workshops! I think an architect could do well just living by the definitions in The Devil's Dictionary!

Guidelines for the Architect:

COMPROMISE, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.

CONSULT, v.i. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.

CRITIC, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.

DECIDE, v.i. To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.

DELIBERATION, n. The act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.

DISCUSSION, n. A method of confirming others in their errors.

LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion — thus:

Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.

Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore —

Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.

This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.

REASON, v.t. To weight probabilities in the scales of desire.

REASON, n. Propensitate of prejudice.

RECONSIDER, v. To seek a justification for a decision already made.

Guidelines for the Architecture:

ABATIS, n. Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside from molesting the rubbish inside.
(a better name for "bridge," GoF?; see also "facade," GoF)

RESPONSIBILITY, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.
(this relates to refactoring, which, given the preponderance of intent over action, may be defined as shifting the responsibility to factor onto Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor.)

Business Intelligence:

BAROMETER, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.

Organizing for Architecture:

ACCOUNTABILITY, n. The mother of caution.

Ok, so you catch my drift.  Next time you use models to reason about the system, you'll think of me, I mean this.

And then you'll remember it was I who burdened you with pessimism:

PESSIMISM, n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.

Then again, just as pessimism was being thrust over you, I do this, and remind you why it is that you read here--that little word at the bottom of Pandora's box!

I'm really at my best when I'm avoiding work! It's too bad there's no money in it!

Hey, if someone (other than Daniel, Charlie and Scott) paid me a compliment about this journal, you could get on my case about enjoying that. But, given your silence, I'll prompt you: don't you think that's the best definition of refactoring you've come across--ever?!!!

What's that? If I want feedback, I should blog? Ok, blockhead, I don't want feedback. I want positive feedback. No, I'm kidding. I'm perfectly happy just talking to myself. In fact, I'm like 5 9's sure I'd prefer my own (positive) feedback to yours. ;) So we'll just go with "that's the best definition of refactoring I've come across--ever!"

Now you just have to read this McCloud comic (given that you probably didn't read it when I pointed it out to you the other day). But when you wonder if I have my shift together, think on this: you're reading this! One has to wonder--about you!

Shift? Yes--updated as Did You Know 4.0. But it's also a reference to the right hand side of this MacLeod cartoon...

And if you don't follow my links, you have only yourself to blame when you miss the good stuff! And that shift is really good! The earlier versions too. And you get a good impression of how quickly the shift is shifting (and what stays the same), when you look across the revs over the years! (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)

That's all I have to say. Have a great weekend... I have to work now... [Where did I put that "pound-down-and-knead-again holding tank" anyway?]

Ok, ok, so the refactoring intent-over-action thing doesn't apply to any projects under your purview. Except for the ones you had to take over from someone else... I rest my case.

10/10/09 Elements of Architecture

Given my propensity to an excess of words, I even more distinctly admire Grady Booch's talent for distilling the simple, memorable, actionable essence from a complex web of truth: 

"The code is the truth... but not the whole truth...

  • Architecture as a collection of significant design decisions

  • Patterns as themes

  • Cross-cutting concerns as traces

  • Rationale as the backstory

  • Tribal memory as the human story"

-- Grady Booch, Elements of Architecture blog post 10/10/09

Isn't that great? Phrases like "rationale as the backstory" are so vivid and memorable they'll become key memes in our field. I also love "tribal memory as the human story." I've used Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken to make the point that our rationalizations of our history reveal and shape who we are. Kathie Sowell uses the same poem to talk about different path options going forward, leading to the same destination. So tribal memory shapes the human story. And the human story builds not only systems but the tribal memories that are wrapped around and within those systems. And we reconfigure our past, as we configure our future. It's all very complicated and messy and human! You see why I like Grady's version? Essential, elemental. And open to rich interpretation... ok, ok, I'm done.

"Cross-cutting concerns as traces" reminds me of Gerrit Muller's concept of qualities as integrating needles. Gerrit Muller is another of those stand-out giants (he is tall, but I mean in intellect and spirit) of architecture and systems thinking who have much influenced and informed me. Gerrit is also a wonderful man, and we've enjoyed having him visit (along with his wife)--although it has been a while; too long!

And I would be remiss, as I enthuse about Grady's succinct capture, if I neglected to add that I also loved Charlie Alfred's 4 b's of architecture: being, behaving, balancing, and becoming. If you are familiar with Martin Fowler's reference to his wife's caricature of building architects (they take care of the 3 b's: bulbs, bushes, birds), then you will recognize that Charlie (in cahoots with Gerry Weinberg) adds a dimension of humor. But, that is one of Charlie's hallmarks.

10/10/09 Innovation in Concept

I'm too busy working to read this, but it looks interesting--my gloss produces the ah ha: innovation in concept is an essential part of the innovation process. Post-it notes were invented by an accidental creation of a removable glue, and then the idea to use the paste to stick markers in hymn books, and from there to sticky notes. So the concept arose in conjunction with a "failed" experiment, but the experiment would have ended in the trash-can of obscurity if it weren't for the invention of a use concept to go along with it.

10/11/09 He's Made A Friend of Me!

Did you read Darth Don's Archetrons post? Here's a peak:

'You can either measure the current state of the architecture or observe the progress of the architecture team. You cannot observe both state and progress. For example, asking for an architecture review gives you the state of the architecture topic but changes the progress itself — the team had to stop working on the project and produce the presentation. Moreover, the act of producing the presentation causes the team to think about what they are doing, and inevitably changes the direction they were heading. This phenomenon is the Meta-Architecture Introspection Paradox.”

-- Donald Ferguson, Archetrons, 10/9/09

Now, if it were me, I would have said "we all know that it is better to fail fast and cheap, because every success comes at the price of a path littered with failures. Ok, so we're going to count failures, and time to failure, and reward failures--especially fast failures, and reward those who help cause failures, so they happen fast, and cheap. This is an architecting processes vetted by The Open Group. It's called VAP. When it's applied to IT, it's called VAP-IT. It fits in quite well with our Darth Don character, really. Oh, for those who are incredulous, you'll find it on the Bredemeyer site."

Now you're going: did she say that with a straight face? It so could go either way.

Hey, I told you, I can do this thing with words.

(Not to be repetitious or anything... but if that Fluffy Easter Bunny-wielding grammar-corrector should consider coming after me for my missing article, we'd want him to know just who he's messing with. Yeah, someone who can pull articles out from under you and trip you up, just like that.)

10/11/09 VAP according to Bierce

Here's VAP in Bierce:

The Visual Architecting Process in Bierce Definitions

You see, it really helps clarify things when you boil them down to just the essence!

If you're intimate with VAP, you'll understand that the parody is perfect, just perfect!

10/12/09 From the Mouths of ... Monkeys

Today, my son told his friend: "There's a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate, and then there's the whole category of stuff you just don't do!" I immediately thought of this journal. I wonder why... Ciao! 

Btw, my son's website still comes up first on a Google search on "handmade flies" and second on "flopping fish." We read the stories from the childhoods of leading entrepreneurs like Bezos. It is neat to watch from the other direction--where will the kid who does this end up? One just doesn't know. At present, swine flu is making its rounds of Bloomington schools... So much lies between now and then! An architect friend (Matt Johnson) said to me when my son was born: "it's like having your heart run around outside your body" -- and you can't protect it, or tether it. This is true with anyone you love, but kids are so reckless

10/13/09 How Loudly Speaks the Lean of a Baby!

If this picture doesn't kick us into life-changing gear, what will?

10/13/09 Great Collaborations!

Returning to Miriam Makebe and Paul Simon, I'm reminded that it is such a moving example of what diversity and great collaboration can produce! I love that about bands that just work--there's so much evident fun in the collaborative flow of the moment, and it is so productive! And for me, that is a visualization of software development when the team hits that "flow" where everyone's strengths and vitality blends to produce remarkable software. Creating the context that makes that possible is not a project management task. The people side factors, surely. But it is a matter of just-enough structural and strategic context so that the team flow, the collaboration, is productive of great work. Without it, there may even be a feeling of camaraderie--at first... but the net effect of turbulent churn erodes that goodwill. In short: chaordic, good; utter chaos, bad.

10/13/09 Leader Leading

We have recognized in STEM that we have a problem: as we move at hyperbolic speed into the future, we need more people, not less, being inspired to enter engineering (including software engineering) and computer science. So, our (collective) thanks go to Grady Booch for creating his Why Engineering? video--it is inspiring and wonderfully creative! In a word: awesome!

10/13/09 Leaders are Made by the Need They See

"Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations," President Obama, October 9, 2009

I've been making the point for some time (but it is still crystallizing, so bear with me) that leaders are made by the need they see. That is to say, no matter what the personality or the presence or the talents or the weaknesses of the person, once they see a need they are compelled to do something about, they find within them the ability to lead. Now President Obama is a great and vibrant speaker, but we have shy people like Mark Zuckerberg stand on the plate of leadership because he is passionate about the opportunity to make a difference by addressing the need he sees. The need (or the opportunity) compels. It energizes. And it overcomes.

I tease myself about my too many words, but I too try to find the essence. The better-than-Pareto lever to move our world. I've worked with leaders across industries and across IT and product development, and I've read and read shelves full of books on leaders and leadership, and I land on that: leaders are made by the compelling need they see. So if you're not leading, you need to be looking! Looking for that compelling need. I don't mean looking in someone else's job! I mean looking within your purview. If your world is a mess, you need to make it less so. If it is not, you need to make it so! Architecting is about the delicate balance between taking on too much, and not enough! About structural integrity and pushing the boundaries on value created, which pushes and frays at structural integrity. It is, or should be, about striving for balance in the context of tension! (Though not in an ill-humor and ill-health kind of way, of course.)

Mentioning Mark Zuckerberg draws me back to the infamous SXSW interview, and I wonder at the audience not being interested in the way the man thinks about his role and why he chose to remain CEO of Facebook and what he does with his vision notebooks! Because what made him a tech star is his tech savvy applied to a vision. That technologists simply discount that--simply, out-of-hand treat that like it is BORING--astonishes me. Technology is nothing if it doesn't serve. An API is nothing if it doesn't connect to value. The more technologists open themselves to this insight, the more they will contribute to the innovation, the invention and development of value, that will see the business they work for through wave after wave of creative destruction. And wave after wave we must anticipate! Because there are Mark Zuckerbergs in this world!

And maybe some of the "Zucks" of the next generation will have been inspired to enter software engineering or other STEM fields by Grady Booch's pitch to high school kids and students!

10/13/09 Patent Storm

Daniel Stroe pointed me us to this: The Mother of all Software Patents.

10/15/09: Daniel added this link:  Executable Content, Software Patents, and Here's Your Subpoena, by Jon Erickson

And observed: "bottom line is that you cannot earn money writing software without a good understanding of the legal aspects of the technologies that you are encountering."

I do agree that patents are architecturally significant, and when we are doing Competitive Landscape Map-related investigations and synthesis, I encourage architects to scan patents (later too, as design alternatives come into view). This is an aspect of the value chain that Marketing isn't watching, and Legal can only be called in to deal with specific questions--they aren't intimate with our own technology capabilities (other than what we ask them to investigate and protect), nor are they necessarily aware of capabilities our competitors may be leveraging (they should know which our competitors control!), or those we might conceive of building. But I have been surprised at how often I encounter sheer naiveté about patents among architects within some organizations. Indeed, some organizations are very aggressive about patents, and others quite laissez faire--so I conclude that it indicates that a company has an identity (or self-concept) as an innovator when it is actively inventing and protecting its inventions. I wonder, as do many, if the whole thing hasn't been taken so far as to do more harm than good. To what extent are concepts being patented over designs, and fundamentals of a field over unique company contributions to an area of competitive capability? In pharmaceuticals we have debates that rage around the ethics of protecting a life-saving drug from the competition that drives costs down. Here we have questions around the public-spiritedness of protecting a design paradigm that changed the face of the web. Regardless of the bigger questions, patents are a fact of life, and yes, we should be more savvy about where our vulnerabilities are, and where we could create a protectable opportunity. I expect the widespread impact here will raise awareness.

11/2/09: Desert storm--the mother of all battles... So: The mother of all software patents-->patent storm. Oh, right... that was 1991. Some of you were still in (elementary) school then! Groan!

10/14/09 My Scout, My Hero

It occurred to me that while my playfulness has been pressure-relieving for me, it transferred the pressure of slipping time to you. Pressure, that is, at least to filter better. Well, I was we were rescued from my sandbox of dissolute playfulness by my much-valued scout (yes, Daniel; and no, that is not his characterization, but mine), who pointed me to these:

10/14/09 System Architecture

System architecture is about the design not just of the parts but of the relationship among the parts, for it is in the collaboration of the parts that value is created. Or eroded. Alternately put, new value emerges from the collaboration of the parts, that is not inherent in any of the parts alone or even in uncoordinated conjunction. This is why "we must architect across the interfaces," across the "seams" in the system. [Rechtin; Ackoff; etc.]

But that's not all, is it? Value is also created or encumbered, even eroded, in the relation of the system to it's context, or its various contexts. And the architect must architect across the boundaries of the system--to the extent that the degrees of freedom allow that. (More, usually, than architects are given to think, because we have been shut out from that negotiation of the boundaries by our waterfall processes and division of labor/role specialization.)  And regardless, there's architecting the relationship of the system to it's context, even if the context is ostensibly immutable.

So architecture encompasses decisions about the (architecturally significant) parts and their relationships, and the relation of the system to its context. Its technology environment as context. Its various use contexts. Its business context.

And when you turn that into a process, you have to reverse the order--first. But then you play it "forth and back.'

At the other extreme from an (intentionally) architected system, is a fully accidental architecture--emergent to the extent that pieces are agglomerated over time. And even in such an accidental and emergent architecture, the value that is created by the system (and all its collaborations among the parts) is greater than the sum of the value of the parts. That is, some new, additional value has been synthesized. Potential new costs and challenges too, but on balance, greater value. At least, for a while. The thing is, the system becomes embedded in its context. There is inertia and dependency in that embedding.

Whether intentionally designed by the human mind, or designed by the chances of fate and the playing out of the web of interactions between the context and the parts, architecture has to do with the parts (well-formed or eroded) and the relationships between the parts (clean and simple, or messy, conflicting and prone to error and surprise) and the relationships with the context (again, clean and simple or promiscuous and sloppy).

Which is why we architect.

Oh yes, a note may be in order: when I say structural design I absolutely mean structural and behavioral design for we must not, should not, cannot design the structure without designing the behavior! And we would not--not unless we haven't been paying attention to the lessons of our field's evolution...!

But here's a thought: might we say that architecting is about designing how value will be created and delivered by the system? While keeping a strategic eye on the horizon of other use contexts and the future. (I say this because our architecture definitions tend to ignore value, like that's just happy accident or someone else's job. Then that someone else is upstream. And we're back to waterfall and role cleaving and tradeoffs that are made upfront, with little sense of the downstream impact. Which is to say, we split design into "outside" and "inside," or "user facing" and "system internals," and then we're back to the issues that this unnatural cleaving produces.)

Each of us is unique...In sum:

  • Value lies not just in the parts, but in the relationships of the parts to each other and to the context.

  • Architects design to create and shore up value. In its first incarnation, and through the evolution of the system

Of course, the insight about the relationships among the parts and to context is not new. Bucky Fuller was saying this way back when. Except not quite in these terms. My terms, at least, are for the most part unique.

10/15/09 More Bumper Sticker Wisdom

Each of us is UNIQUE

Just like everyone else

10/14/09 Software Architecture Document and VAP Action Guides

Note to self: revise our Software Architecture Documentation page on the Bredemeyer site. And the Visual Architecting Process Action Guide page!

(Sara, letting go to brush leaves out of her hair, fell off the swing. She got up, dusted herself off and said: 'Note to self: don't brush off leaves while on swing." I thought "How can a child smart enough to say that, be stupid enough to just do that?" But the turn of phrase stuck with me, apparently.)

10/14/09 Software Architecture Dashboard

It is more easy to joke about the "economics of software architecture," than it is to get a handle on a good generic radar for architectural accountability, progress and contribution. The work I did on the "economics of software reuse" taught me that the models provide an indication of sensitivity points and critical factors. But it is hard to go beyond that, because, the metrics work of the likes of Bob Grady and Capers Jones notwithstanding, we just don't generally have good data to plug into the models. But, should we give Architecture Governance Boards more to go on than archetrons? Economic models that illuminate the factors that play into an analysis of architecture costs, benefits and opportunity costs? And a sense of what to measure, if a radar or dashboard is desired. We advocate linking architecture scorecards to strategy (at that level of scope) and goals/objectives at that level of scope. The dashboard design is dependent on the specific goals, not generic benefits, costs and opportunity costs.

Still, if we can come up with key factors and associated metrics, interested governance boards can then require that projects keep track of this data. This would feed into empirical analyses of  the economics of architecture, and mature both the projects involved (they'd be able to estimate and navigate with more assurance) and our understanding of the field. BUT, and it is a bigger "but" than the caps belie, it is very hard to get projects to record data that isn't easy to collect and/or where the benefit is long term, not immediate.


Aside: We use the concept of "teams and themes" in the architecture scorecard/dashboard work, in communication planning, etc. These themes provide traceability (to higher level strategic initiatives and associated goals) and alignment (of subsequent decisions like pattern choices). Themes... which brings me to temes. Personally, I like the notion of patterns as temes (or technical memes)--the replicators of a structural unit within a system and from one system to another. So, teams, themes, and temes. :-) 

Well, as soon as I get my archman donation out of the way, I'll have to return my discretionary time slices (ha!) to updating our VAP Action Guide chapters and progressing that whole body of work!

10/15/09 Tribal Memory

When Dana talks about becoming interested in architecture, he tells of his first project in the Operating Systems Lab at HP. He had to take over a piece of the system that was half done, with no documentation. The "what was he thinking?!" question that came up over and over, too often had no answer, as the designer-developer in question had left. That was one shaping influence. Others included spending summers with Russ Ackoff and Bucky Fuller, respectively, when he (Dana) was an undergrad. Yes, our Dana is an unusual sort of nerd. One that was discovered by the HP recruiter in the CS computer lab dungeons at IU. (Smart recruiter! He figured that the developers HP most wanted, were so busy writing code they weren't schmoozing at the job fair.) But one that took summers to go figure out what Fuller and Ackoff were up to in the system thinking arena. So, in the 80's Dana already had the title of software architect, and if I ever come back across his business card from that era, I'm going to frame it to preserve that evidence that HP already had an OS architecture lab with designated architects back in the 80's.

Yes, I'm pretty sure we still have it. Dana is even more of a pack rat than I am. I'm afraid that arriving in a country with but two suitcases and no "history" save for one technical book and one book of poetry, sort of does that to a person! At least, it did to me. As for the book--there is a story there too. It was Mary Loomis's book on database design. It was already out-of-date by then, but it was one of my shaping influences ("it's all about information, stupid"), so that is what I chose to bring. The poetry? Seamus Heaney's Field Work of course! Duh! But back to Loomis. Guess who was manager of the Software Technology Lab at HP Labs when I joined? Yep, Mary Loomis! Funny thing is, I am such a flatlander and so ignore author-as-personality (in the People sense) that I just knew my database book as "Loomis." So it was a while before I realized that Loomis was Mary Loomis! At any rate, I still have my Loomis and my Heaney, and I'm pretty sure we still have Dana's business card. But just as layers and layers of code changes obfuscate the intent and the design, so does the accumulation of more of the "pebbles" of life's memories and mementos. Why, just on base of my monitor I have my Earth's scream and a crinoid fossil--a symbolic combination that happened by accident but is a perfect call to action every day!

Well, that was my long-winded way of saying that tribal memory is very faulty! It is awesome, and I--you know, the "software development is a socio-technical endeavor" person--put a lot of stock in the ability of people to create highly generative "flow." It is fun, it is productive. It is doing. But it is also the undoing, if we don't apply discipline to maintaining the design as design. That is, in part, why I think it is unfortunate that we have coalesced towards saying every system has an architecture, even when it wasn't designed--when it is the accretion of accident not intent. This is not at all a distinction between upfront design and evolutionary design. It is a distinction between a kludge and a design. Given architecture as design, we can add the concept that the design, for any complex system that lives and livelihoods will depend on, ought to have a manifestation not merely by implication in the built system, but in design artifacts.   

My fallout from Darth Don's archetron (verbal) sketch was several archman cartoons falling under a theme of "economics of architecture." Looking around for more grist for the spoof-mill, I dipped back into that topic (some of the trace lies in the entry yesterday). Relevant? Well, I was too lazy to dig out my IEEE login and besides, if I listen to Grady's columns I can double-task, right? Well, so it was that I distractedly clicked the column above Grady's "economics of architecture" piece, and was already into it when I realized he wasn't doing economics at all. He was covering a "building architecture" analogy, and in particular the story of architecting his own house. I've seen the analogy covered various ways, but Grady does an especially good job of it. He uses the story to make important points about visualizing through models to support reasoning and "test" the design (finding flaws that would have caused expensive rework if discovered during construction), and the importance of evolving the design as changes were made and elaborations added. I liked the story, and its use.

Tribal memory is woven through with the stories we tell to sustain the culture of the tribe, and preserve the memory. Stories. And our rationalizations of then, from the vantage point of now. It is ad hoc. It is inconsistent and threaded with inaccuracies. And it is highly accidental. It is essential. And it is not enough! Not for systems that our business depends on now, and into the future. Tribal memory is vibrant. But we can make the formal "memory," the pictures and documents, vibrant too. We don't want to replace informal people-rich process, but rather to support it and provide leverage. And that is the essential point in the economics of architecture, isn't it? Leverage. We invest some in expressing the design as design, to leverage the architectural thinking across the "tribe" and time, and keeping the design current enables us to sustain leverage.

10/15/09 Structure and Self-deception

Now, you surely recognize that this journal bears witness to the enormous gravitational pull of accidental structure! Simply moving with the flow of thought is seductive. And it is fun and satisfying, with a quick sleight of mind, to pull the structure into alignment. Easy enough to do, while it is small, and discrete, and we can hold it all in our mind. And therein lies so much of the self-deception in software. The personal process does not scale--on its own.

This, by way of Grady Booch:

"The brain has its own language for testing the structure and consistency of the world."

-- Carl Sagan 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed) by John Boswell

Here's more of the lyrics:

"But the brain does much more than just recollect
It inter-compares, it synthesizes, it analyzes
it generates abstractions

The brain has it's own language
For testing the structure and consistency of the world"

But what the brain does is still pretty effectively encapsulated, despite advances in BCI research. Unless we speak and write and draw and create models and make stuff. Going from the language of the brain to code is productive, and some developers find they are more effective doing that than creating intermediate models. Others couldn't get by without modeling in some form (sketchy or more formal) first, at least sometimes.

Reliance, though, on brain to code as the only mechanism for bleeding thoughts through the encapsulation boundary, breaks down when the system needs-must be built by several people, and more so, the more people. 

So then we get to pictures, and I raked that turf in the PICTURE IT presentation so I won't go back over that. If you can't stand to watch it, you can read what I planned to say.

(Of course, PICTURE IT is in caps so that it can go both ways: picture it and picture IT. You knew that.)

PS: I hope you followed that Carl Sagan link; it's wonderful!

The visualization resources list is ever-growing--and not done. So please do let us know if there are tools or approaches we should include in the set.


10/15/09 Call for Papers (with Interesting Questions!)

"Abstract Submission Date: 29 October 2009 Articles Due: 11 December 2009

The Great Recession Fallout: Will CIOs Be Elevated or Exterminated?

TOPICS OF INTEREST MAY INCLUDE (but are certainly not limited to) a combination of the following:

* Will CIOs need to step back into more tactical activities? Or are we at a deflection point where the combination of possibilities and environmental demands will require more CIOs capable of finding and delivering strategic benefits?

* Will some industries be slow or no-growth ones and some be fast-growth, requiring different skills from CIOs? Which industries and their CIOS are likely to be unaffected? Which are likely to be dramatically altered?

* Will the focus for business shift more persistently towards global versus North American opportunities? Will larger multinational companies rely on more international CIOs instead of North American CIOs? Will we see more line-of-business leaders taking the IT reins away from tech-oriented IT leaders?

* Will this economic downturn set the stage for the next round of more massive centralization of IT? Or will the prevalence of hosted solutions encourage more decentralized and federated forms of IT management?

* How will local and state government CIOs fare in 2010? Tax revenues lag well behind in a recovery, following long after unemployment rates start dropping. This has required governments to look at dropping services outright and finding cheaper ways of delivering old services. Will this recession spur the growth of e-government to encourage cost savings?

* What kinds of skills flourish in this kind of environment?

TO SUBMIT AN ARTICLE IDEA Please respond to Vince Kellen at vkellen at uky .edu with a copy to itjournal at cutter, no later than 29 October and include an extended abstract and a short article outline showing major discussion points."

-- email from Cutter.com, 10/11/09

10/13/09 Leaders are Made by the Need They See--Take 2

I did want to add, lest I do myself out of business: leaders can get better at various dimensions of leadership by working on awareness, concepts, techniques, etc! But it is the need that inspires passion, and passion energizes and surmounts. Whether perceiving the need is Divinely or cosmically inspired, or just an accident of the unfolding of the times we live in, the deep and compelling need is what requires leadership, and motivates leadership.

The point I'm trying to make is that leaders, being real live warm blooded people, have their individual complexes of strengths and weaknesses, and there is no particular complex that makes for a great leader. Likewise with architects, and I rail at the desire to have a "litmus test" for architects that would eliminate some and sanction others. There is just too much spread. And I like to allow for surprises. For a person to make it, against the odds. Me for example. It is against all odds that I should play the role I play! Yes, yes, there are general characteristics that set architects apart, but I think that attitude is paramount, for a magnetically positive attitude can surmount, while a negative, erosive attitude will undo.  Attitude, passion, orientation, perspective.

[The] perspective [gained from reading this journal, for example,] is worth at least 80 IQ points!

( I love that Alan Kay quote--thanks Mr. Bezos!)

Oh alright, no perspective is gained. But it was fun saying that.

10/15/09 What We're Paying Attention To

Today Dana told me that while I was working (all weekend) and he was at the school picnic (in Brown County State Park on a glorious Fall day), one of the dads asked if he'd noticed the squirrels this year. Dana said "yes, they've been busy" and the other dad told him that the squirrels and the Farmers Almanac both indicate a very cold winter. He also said the squirrels have been storing nuts above ground, so they intuit snow. So many of us have lost that way of noticing what is going on around us, and even when we do, we don't know the meaning of what we're seeing in the animal behavior. 

What we're paying attention to, shapes what we perceive and pay attention to. We need mechanisms in our personal process that get us to scan the environment from time to time. And our sensors need to tell us where to dive into details, where it matters.

As for what I'm paying attention to... our world is really pretty this week. But wet and chilly! Still, we went hiking over the lunchtime hour and I have to say: this week, I don't envy Brian his location at all! I do, however, still envy* his talent! Anyway, out rambling and taking pictures, I remembered someone complaining that he didn't like to see the world through a viewfinder. Well, it's not viewfinders necessarily any more, but it is still paying attention to the frame-view rather than the wide pan view. I find it is much like our process--wide scans, and dropping into detail when the detail begs attention. If I wasn't looking to take in the scene but all-the-while being alert to photo frame views, I would miss that detail. And that is what I love about Brian's visual journal and his talent as a photographer. Beautiful landscapes and exquisite detail in a flower, an insect, a mushroom. I'm happy to celebrate the beauty I see, and the beauty Brian sees and captures.

And speaking of beauty rendered for us all to enjoy, Dana pointed me us to this TED talk: Garret Lisi on his theory of everything.

Garret Lisi lives in a van in Maui! (With his family, his computer and his surf board.) We threaten to go nomad for the kids' middle school years, but it is hard to actually do. Always contending factors to consider--thinking about the kids' stability, friends and nurturing talents and interests versus more deeply encountering this beautiful world with all its many layered diversity. (Our work, of course, is wherever our heads happen to be.)

A short while later: Well, I'm excited! Our kids' piano teacher just offered us her house in the south of France for a writing stint. And she has a 4-berth yacht we can use on the Mediterranean! Did I mention I'm excited? But, we can't get away until next year. That gives me plenty of time to be excited. Grin. I did say "what you're paying attention to, shapes what you perceive and pay attention to." You navigate conversations accordingly, and suddenly... you find you're set to take a writing break in France!

Focus helps us get things done. Scanning the context from time to time, lets us pick where to focus and alerts us when that focus needs to shift. We need to do both. But our tendency is to tunnel, to get mired in inattentional blindness. Or to scan; to stay too high-level. Our process needs that forth and back.

Fractal structure. ;-) The big picture, the repeated patterns, the details.

The weaving of our lives through our work, and our work through our lives.

It is to be on a quest to find and shape a path to a better future that you can rally others to join. On that quest, you will seek.

* If you're the kind of person who takes what I say entirely at face value, uh... what are you doing reading here? Just dropped by? Well, you're only welcome if you have a strong tolerance for many, many, many words; a facility and taste for dry, sometimes downright wicked (teasing) humor; and the resilience to pick back up after your mind has been thoroughly messed with. In short, if you have what it takes to be an architect--yes, unquenchable optimism. And a willingness sometimes to follow. To give into, not always to control. To lead is not to dominate. It is to be on a quest to find and shape a path to a better future that you can rally others to join. On that quest, you will seek. Sometimes in magical but very strange places. I know this journal qualifies as the latter. I hope that it qualifies as the former, at least sometimes. I am, you see, an unquenchable optimist.

The trouble with how I write here, is that I embed some of the deepest insights in the most superficial and playful of paragraphs! Who would get past the self-(def)facing satire to the "willingness sometimes to follow. To give into, not always to control. To lead is not to dominate. It is to be on a quest to find and shape a path to a better future that you can rally others to join. On that quest, you will seek."? For that is as deep and important as "tolerant of ambiguity" and "a willingness to backtrack" and other such qualities of an architect that separate an architect from a technical specialist. As an architect, we can't dominate the people or the problem. The problem is too big (if not, do it yourself!) and the people too talented and, well, ornery when pushed!

While I was still at HP and working with a group of R&D Lab managers on setting up the architect role, we were in a back and forth turf delineation kind of thing (managers don't want to give up control, but they also don't want to talk about it in quite that way, so there is dancing around the issue) and suddenly I realized what they needed to know. So I pulled out my shoe lace (fortunately I was wearing laced shoes, which aren't generally my work-attire thing but it was winter) and showed them: they wanted the architects to push from behind, but you can't push string. You have to pull string--to get out front and lead. [I have to presume the analogy-impaired don't read here, but I'll say this anyway: no, I don't think developers are string, or controlled by string, or anything. Well, anyway, the analogy worked really well in the context I used it, and allowed us to reach a new threshold. Naturally all the success HP has been having, is rooted in the platform of architecture competence I helped build. ;-) ]

Yes, architecture is a set of decisions. DECISIONS. But we need to lead to a shared understanding and buy-in to the value of working within the constraint of those decisions (with a visible amendment process with architectural oversight). And a participative process helps build both shared understanding and buy-in. That is covered in our Getting Past "But" paper, so I'll just refer you there. But a participative process can be slow as treacle--unless you lead: set the vision, and lead to decisions on a pulsing drum-beat that allows recourse to the "gun" or "baseball bat" (or whatever metaphor your group will allow you to use in fun, but also knowing that a real line is being drawn).


willingness sometimes to follow


To give into, not always to control.


To lead is not to dominate.


It is to be on a quest to find and shape a path to a better future that you can rally others to join.

Sorry--low light and hand held... but hopefully you get a sense of how lovely it is around here, despite the rain, rain, rain. Perhaps the poetry of place still speaks (if it doesn't you can always scroll over the pictures)...

And, if you don't think this is architecturally significant, let me just say that it was an experience with architects some time ago that inspired this set of insights. Well, of course, the general insight we expressed in a Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way tutorial at the DCI Enterprise Architecture Conference in 2001... Anyway, sometimes when you seek in a magical place (the place where great, innovative ideas are born), you have to suspend disbelief for a while. And suspend the desire to control and stay on safe ground. Sometimes you have to trust the guide, and follow with goodwill. By being sometimes a good follower, you will set an example for your followers, modeling for them what it means to be a good follower--for they, too, sometimes simply have to trust your intuition and judgment because you have experience, and talent and a track record of good judgment. Or at least, goodness, you're willing to take risks--to move forward under uncertainty, prepared to backtrack when the fog of ambiguity lifts enough to re-evaluate!

In the transition from developer to tech lead to architect, there is less and less of the accustomed "solid ground under the feet." The more broad scoped the system, the more complex, the more we deal with abstractions (even when the system is built) to reason about the system, rather than details somewhere deep within it. The challenge for us, helping people make that transition, is getting them to look up, to look around. To work at a higher level of abstraction some of the time. And to become more dialed in to the importance of context. But some keep wanting to look just at their feet! The next step. To be sure of the next step.

For the architect, though, the "ground under the feet" shifts, and the architect places his (and occasionally her) feet so as to firmly straddle and connect business and technology. Straddling that gap is scary for someone who is always looking down, expecting to see ground! Did I just fly too high with that analogy? See ya! 

Oh, oh, oh--before I go! Taciano, one of the architects in Brazil, remarked "the architect needs to drink directly from the source." I love that! And it gives you a glimpse of what I meant when I said that was a stand-out great group! Insightful, accurate, and playful.

The ground, and the fountain of understanding. Magical places.

Depending on how we frame it, we can find a kind of magic, in strange places. A bug, a toadstool, moss... We have moss green all over the pond we share with a handful of neighbors. Watermeal is one of those things which on balance is evil, but it makes for a great canvas for wind etchings. Still, it kills the pond life. We lost lots of fish one day recently, either to careless construction workers or to the watermeal. Or some of both. Now the other pond-dwellers want to use chemicals to kill the weed (Nature's smallest flowering plant), and I groan because we keep thinking we can manipulate Nature without consequence... mounting evidence to the contrary... (Dana tried a mechanical approach, but it's back to the drawing board on a design...)

In case you're interested in what happened to our bald-faced hornets' nest... I put two photos on a separate page (already too many photos on this one)... It is quite lovely, and we feel privileged to have been selected for so intimate a view of the nursery and iterative development.



wind etching in watermeal with a frame of leaves


Sign next to elevator in Brazil10/17/09 Elevation Change

Ah yes, ground under the feet. I took the picture on the left, in my hotel in Brazil. I'll have to use it in workshops: trust me--I'm going to take you up a few levels, but I've done this more than a few times, I'll get in first, and you'll find the elevator and the destination to be structurally sound... a little disconcerting on first experience, but quite doable. You'll see... Or something like that... (Not that architecture is all "high level," but without a sense of the big-picture, the low-level details are just details. They may add up to something, big even. But how would one know?)

Then I can also go back to this picture when I talk about the Minimalist Architecture Principle. I have to tell you, when I mentioned the sign to the group in Brazil, one said: "Yes, they're going to pass a law requiring that you look both ways before you cross the street." Those architects are quick on the draw! Funny, and absolutely salient.

We in Bloomington have another example that I need to take a picture of, because I find myself describing it without the aid of a visual. Outside Barnes and Noble, there are two stop signs in the parking lot about 3 car lengths apart. I kid you not! What on earth possesses me to mention this in workshops? Well, we talk about Minimalist Architecture, but allow this little caveat--this discretionary use of a very few, well-considered, gratuitous stop signs. We know that some people will ignore them, but we also know that if a pedestrian is anywhere in sight, drivers will stop (in a state where drivers think a pedestrian crossing means "puck-puck-puck, time to play chicken!"). It creates a behavior change. We can't use stop signs all over the place, every 3 car lengths. But once in a while, we might decide to tick some people off a little, to get them to shift their habit.

Laws, and architecture decisions, need to be added judiciously, because each additional one adds to the burden on both the governed citizen and the governance organization.

So we are very careful to keep our architecture trim and minimal, assessing every decision we add to the decision set to make sure that it is architecturally significant (must be made at this level of scope to meet strategic system objectives).

10/16/09 Darth Don In Our Sights

Ok, it's Friday... What will Darth Don say next? I hope it will be another "humor" entry to entertain and stimulate us! Darth Don is an artist, providing commentary on the state of our field in the guise of hold-your sides humor.

But why, do you think, did he classify his Archetrons post as "CA, Hobby"?

Oh, he is good!

10/17/09 Visualization Links

10/19/09 Magical Morning

We stopped by Griffy Lake for a walk in the morning light with wisps of mist rising off the lake. The quality of the light was lovely--not a harsh candor, but rather a loving, kind truth, full of shade and subtlety.

The quality of the slant morning light is so very different than the candor of the midday light, isn't it? When the sun lights obliquely, it touches a scene with a radiant glow; just hours later the direct sun, with its revealing harshness, washes out color and highlights every blemish.

10/20/09: another lovely morning: we chanced upon a magical leaf-strewn pond, with an "audience" of lotus plants, that made for an interesting scene.

10/21/09: It outstrips my abilities to take a photo that expresses the feel of the forests, but hopefully you can at least get a hint of what it is like to hike the rims and ravines of Southern Indiana among tall maples glowing yellow. (We don't have mountains tossed up by clashing tectonic plates nor volcanic peaks; instead we have gullies where the earth was washed away by glacial melt. So our "hills" are worn down, not thrust up!) I got up at 4am to work, so we could take a hike in the morning light. It's nice to be able to shift the workday around this week!

10/22/09: I tried again to capture the forest's glow (here's a panel). When I first moved to Bloomington, I compared the Fall here to the stunning Falls in New England and that was a big mistake! This has its own special quality, and being immersed in golden color is incomparable. It is like these majestic trees gulped up the sun all summer long, and in this week of transcendent giving over to the regeneration of winter, they joyously give back that summer glow. Tousled by wind, our hills do dance and it rains gold upon us, walking in the woods. It has a rash rapture that is joy! It is soul-soaring, mind-quickening beautiful!

When I was a child, my family owned no books, so voracious reader that I was, I lived in the town library. Still, one day I forgot I had to learn a poem for school and we had no books--and no internet! Helping me out of my distress, my Dad taught me one he still knew from his childhood. It was Wordsworth's "I wandered lonely as a cloud" and though it belongs to the Romantic canon that literary snobs sniff at, I so love that poem and the way it captures the spirit expanding joy of the moment, as well as the stock of joy we store up in our memory bank: 

"I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,                               20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

Except I have to change the last line to

          And dances with our golden hills.

Back in August, thinking of the Fall, I wrote "And the curved hills and twisty lanes and hiking paths disappearing into alluring color, beckoning ever on; work forgotten." Yup, that about captures it! But it only lasts a week or two, and then its dull, dull, dull brown around here for months and months! But hey, the squirrels are expecting plenty of snow this year, so perhaps... 

As we feel our glorious earth under threat, the love of Nature that the Romantic poets expressed, has a new kind of draw for us. As for me, I've always been quite happy to flout the snobs and follow my instincts, loving Heaney (sanctioned by the literary elitists) and Wordsworth too. I believe that the joy of man's desiring, the joy of our aspiring, is a blessing, and if we allow ourselves to be arrogant and dismissive, we wear stereotyping blinkers. We have to filter, but to filter based on a sense of our own cleverness is a kind of sham--a twist on the vanities of position that Charles Dickens goes after in Little Dorrit, and F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby ... and plenty more, a body of literature devoted to the folly of our various vanities. This I say with a deep sense of my own fallibility! And even where I can route out my prejudice, I find one can also be a snob about trying not to be an intellectual elitist! Which naturally implies an intellectual bent together with deep principles. ;-)  My internal critic has its work cut out dealing with me, but self-(d)effacing satire is the low-hanging fruit of its sharp-tongued labor.

Well, Sting's Fields of Gold is spirit-stirring lovely. Barley not maples. But gold all the same. I love the wind through fields of wheat and barley, making golden waves. When we took the kids camping/hiking/kayaking in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, we stopped in the great open mid-West to be in the fields below the storm clouds, and feel that wind and watch that storm in that wide open place where the sky is huge and the land stretches, wave behind flowing wave of golden barley, criss-crossed with the green of already harvested fields. (I put a picture from that field on a page of poetry; you might have seen it.) There is so much beauty in this world. Here, the leaves are coming down, and after that, we'll be able to see the birds! [10/28: We've had more rain, and the trees are mostly bare but circled by richly colored leaves. Driving the kids to school I remarked: "oh look, the trees look like dancers who've dropped their dresses" and my son asked me if he could tell his friends I said the trees look like strippers. So I conclude, innocence is lost somewhere between 0 and 11. Boys! In Nature's dressing room, for goodness sake!]

I pulled out Little Dorrit and The Great Gatsby from my vast and diverse literary reading, because if I had two lives to live, I would use one to write a novel that is in that line of sight. A novel with huge tenderness for the human spirit--a critical eye and acute insight into the social ills of the day, but ultimately, deep empathy for our folly and sparkling awe at the greatness we humans can achieve.    

And then again, there's Sting's lovely classical rendition of The Lowest Trees Have Tops (written by Sir Edward Dyer and composed by John Dowland). Perhaps better to be true, to hear and see and sign, and then to break... than to leave a trace full of foible.

10/19/09 Gentle Action

Our neighbor is a professor emeritus at IU who is very active (and highly regarded) in environmental physics. He is the most utterly charming environmental physicist I know. Ok, he's the only one, but I'm sure if I knew them all, he'd still be the most charming. He and his wife hosted a gathering of the cul de sac families for desert and a chat about climate change. I think this kind of community action is exactly how we have to do this, and fitting to do so in the town where Elinor Ostrom was a professor.

Anyway, it was a lively conversation because one of the other neighbors is puzzled and alarmed at the lack of debate, given that all the climate change science is based on models and models can be wrong. Very wrong. etc.

As for me, you know my position. Scientists have no sinister agenda. They are doing honest, hard work to understand what is happening to our planet. And they predominantly conclude it is scary! We can't afford the consequence if the scientists are right and we do nothing to change the course we're on. Still, even if you take the cynical position with respect to the scientists, and optimistic position with respect to the earth's ability to heal itself, it is still worth asking: what better way to rejuvenate the world economy than to make the goal of working toward zero environmental footprint the highest value? The production of what we choose to think of as value, creates jobs. If we can turn around how we manufacture, distribute, consume, and retire goods into new use, we can have the quality of life humanity aspires to. Therein lies enormous drivers for innovation and new products and services! A whole new economy, and one we can be proud to work towards, rally behind. So to me, even those who are skeptical about climate change (extent and/or impact) should be behind zero footprint. Why not? There's something in it for everyone! Rethinking value from the ground up, is a necessary revolution (Senge).

And the alternative position risks a fast track to increasing destabilization of ecosystems and economies. Not good!

Yes, change is hard! We looked at getting a Prius because I feel out of alignment driving an SUV, but the manufacturing impact of a new car versus the difference a hybrid would make given our rather small amount of local driving makes cycling (weather permitting) a better alternative. Yes, our roads are dangerous for an adult cyclist, and more so for a kid (prone to distraction), and there aren't sidewalks for the kids to use in many of the busiest sections... So we have to work towards systemic changes, and we have to make personal sacrifices and changes. Some are harder than others! Many take time, and have real costs. But first to start to look at our lives, and factor sustainability into our choices. And to look at offsets--it's a compromise, but we need to look at net effects and make real progress in the right direction rather than launching into a panicky pendulum swing of puritanical purging...

I've seen the criticism of Al Gore--his big house means high energy use, and even though he uses more expensive green energy sources, his lifestyle choices are taken to be incongruous with his message. The cynical conclusion is: he doesn't live his message. Unless his message is that we need to find ways to allow that meritocracy and lifestyle choices can, on balance (putting more back than you take out of the system), still yield sustainable choices for the planet. Personally, I can align with that. But we have to make those kinds of choices easier for people to make. So there are footprint calculators but I don't mean (just) that. I mean, for example, the utility company needs to offer consumers a choice of energy source and pricing. We need to invest in lead adopters of solar and wind technologies, because increasing the adoption rate will drive down the costs of these technologies for followers. We need to get creative!   

Now I have to tell you that our neighbor's wife drives a Prius and he cycles to IU year round. I've complained about him cycling when it's icy out, but he is living his seriousness about these climate change issues!

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world." -- Buddha

First to dream, then to do. Our dreams, our visualizations, our thinking not about what is but what could be, must come first, for we can't build what we can't imagine. Or don't,  or won't imagine.

10/20/09: Daniel Stroe pointed me to Jules Verne's visionary science fantasy novel From the Earth to the Moon (written in 1865) and its remarkable parallels to the real life Apollo program.

10/21/09 Stretches

Dana observed: "The dancer works on stretches and strength--it is not why they became a dancer, but it is very much part of the identity of a dancer that they do that. It is like the architect: they didn't get into architecting to deal with communication and politics, but doing so meaningfully is what separates out the architects who are serious about system success." We do what makes big things possible; things that require many engaged minds. The technical stuff we love, that got us into this. And the stuff we have to do, to be good at what we do.

I guess that works... the organizational politics/dynamics aspect is a stretch for most of us!

(Well, I just had to write that post so I could include my photo. ;-)  I have a thing about reflection, it seems. Reflection in visuals, and reflection in words. I think, I over-think!)

10/23/09 Cool Visualization

The "what happens when a virus enters your throat" visualization on NPR is cool. Wouldn't it be neat if intro to programming classes had visualizations analogous to this of what's going on in the system? Has anybody seen something along these lines? Of course John Maeda did a goofy "simulation" of what happens in a PC using people... but a runtime animation, even in terms of the metaphors implied by pattern names, for example?

10/24/09 Poiesis

Poïesis is etymologically derived from the ancient Greek term ποιέω, which means "to make". This word, the root of our modern "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world. Neither technical production nor creation in the romantic sense, poïetic work reconciles thought with matter and time, and man with the world. -- wikipedia

10/24/09 models@run.timejust hangin' by its toes!

The October 2009 IEEE Computer focus is well-timed, with its focus on (runtime) software visualization.

10/24/09 Leaping Chasms

"It doesn't work to leap a 20ft chasm in two 10ft jumps!" -- an American Proverb quoted by David Gergen

I love the quote, but... do people leap 20-ft chasms?

10/24/09 Oh Right...

"Everything has been said before, but since no-one listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again" -- Andre Gide

10/26/09 What's Wrong with the Picture?The "Microsoft Reboots" article in the October 26 issue of Fortune magazine is interesting. But the photo (not in the online version, unfortunately) of "the crew running Microsoft" is striking!  A "boys club" mafia image? That is so first edition PayPal.  Compare that, if you will, to the make-up of the top team at Google.

10/26/09 Wag More, Bark Less (again)

I think that we spend way too much time chipping away at other people's towers ostensibly to promote our own edifice. Ok, there are people in our field who get off on that kind of critical orientation--like watching a reality survival show or something. But real value is built the hard way--by building value, not by chipping away at the value someone else built.

"Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention." -- Abraham Lincoln

I'm not suggesting a rah rah world where there is no critical analysis. I know there are plenty of times where I react and I value what I react against just as I value what causes me to thrill at a new insight or to react in that eureka rush of joy when pieces fall into a new alignment for me. Using the positive outcome, while overcoming the urge to tear down the stimulant of that outcome, would make this world a better place. I watched 2 of the first Star Wars Trilogy with the kids yesterday. They both remarked on my watching these movies with them because (in the kids words) "they are so violent." And it is true--I shudder and shake at where humanity is going! We are moving as fast as we can into drones and what for? To kill PEOPLE--well, maybe we tell ourselves that we'll use drones to take out strategic sites that threaten us, but the net effect is always going to be killing people! So fewer of our people get killed? That's pathetic in its short-sightedness! The only way to get out of these awful cycles is to route out that tendency we have to bash and batter! We can't do it globally, overnight. But we can work at it in ourselves! We have to build a new way of seeing and being. A way of collaborating and building, rather than competing and tearing down. Well, I have value to go build--insight and intention to intersect to spark innovation! (Another deft Boochism.)Hey, I'll just become an illustrator--don't you see it: archman with insight in one hand, and intention in the other, lighting the CFL bulb of innovation? It's green and everything!  I do want the reference--it fits nicely in an innovation slide-deck I've been assembling... That is one of the hammered truths that I so love to encounter, and draw out--child-happy at the discovery of something so powerful my instinct was to call it poetic. And there it is--poiesis: the root of our modern "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world.    I'd like to make that kind of impact with the truths I hammer away at. So, I have to work in a different medium. This poor dark well serves to sound back the echo of my own voice. It'd be nice if it were different, because it is fun to romp with words here. It serves, but poorly. Value then!10/27/09: This journal is one of the traditional sort, right--it tracks a personal journey. Part of me wants to disregard all the cynical, critical eyes that might peer out of the darkness, and expect only kindred spirits in the minds behind the IP addresses. And part of me scolds and chastises for I have professional image to maintain. So, I struggle with what I do here! Ah well, it makes a place for IDEO and that ilk, that we shun diversity and create clone armies in our corporate world. The picture of the Microsoft top team is so illuminating! Assemble your architects, dress them in jeans and a black t-shirt, take a photo and see what your technical leadership team looks like. Decisions are not made entirely rationally and scientifically, as much as we may pretend they are. They are made with partial knowledge, on instinct and intuition and experience--but very clouded, ambiguous experience, skewed intuition, and primitive instincts. If nothing else makes the case for diversity, that should!

1/2/10: I like Monroe's xkcd version: internet argument (like, just imagine you're talking to person you're dissing). 

10/27/09 AutopoiesisSeeing that I'd seized on poiesis, Dana remarked that he knows the word from Humberto Maturama's Autopoeisis and Cognition: the realization of the living. (Dana is the most broadly read, investigative person I know--even after all these years, he still surprises me with what he knows and where he has searched!) He proceeded to tell me some about the intellectual revolution in Chile that Maturama was part of. I proceeded to look at Autopoeisis and Cognition on Googlebooks, so I could see if it is worth the trek to the attic library (where the non-technical books are housed). Well, already on the second page:

"At the same time I soon realized in my research that my central purpose in the study of color vision could not be the study of a mapping of a colorful world on the nervous system, but rather that it had to be the understanding of the participation of the retina (or nervous system) in the generation of the color space of the observer." 

And there it is again. The point that the great system thinkers make: we need to understand the participation of the part (the component, the subsystem, the system) in the larger context. [You see, Charlie, one of these days (or months or years) I'll come around to understanding all that you have tried to teach me. Well, that's if you stop writing/teaching long enough for me to catch up. :-) Not that I'm encouraging that! Quite the contrary!]And there it is again. What we are paying attention to, shapes and determines what we perceive--what we allow to strike us.

I guess I have to make that trek. And while I do that, I have to adjust my filters!

10/28/09 You Saw the Sign... But Drove in Anyway You saw the sign, but you drove in anyway? I was doing a little sign sequence, so I thought I'd make this one for you. ;-)10/28/09 Blinders and Blunders -- and a question for you ;-)What is the most helpful book, paper, etc., you have read on leaders or leadership? Likewise what video or movie do you recommend to your peers and architect/tech lead reports? Obviously I have my prejudiced set. :-) I want to know what you found helpful, orienting, etc. Great leaders do study great leaders; I'm pretty sure that I read that, when asked what book other than the Bible Obama would take to the White House, he said A Team of Rivals. Lincoln is a great leader to study! We lead in smaller circles than a Lincoln or a Gandhi or a Mandela, but they are challenging circles all the same! So we have leaders of state and social change, leaders of innovation, leaders of technical communities. Steve Jobs, for example, rattles my cage for I am attracted to so much that is expressed in, and as a consequence of, his passion for excellence at every level. And I am repelled by the bruising arrogance of his personal style. So we study great leaders not to emulate any one of them, but to build our own sense of a compelling style to envision for ourselves, and in so doing, start to live out.

"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." Epictetus (AD 55 -  c.135)  

"If you wish to be a writer, write." Epictetus (AD 55 -  c.135) [or "if you wish to be a leader, lead" -- which begs the question, "where to?"]

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way... you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.” Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC).

I'm also looking at our perceptual blinders--and blunders. In that vein, Kurosawa's Rashomon is not your usual work-day fare (it is a classic Japanese film dealing with a heinous crime and going through the stories told by various participants). Still, it is a classic and it makes points about how flawed our human perception is and how unique individual sense/meaning making is, and how that interacts with the stories we tell ourselves and others, and how we project our experience. It is rough stuff. Not classroom material. But, to be frank, it is an important topic--getting us to be more sensitized to the role of own process, our own perceptual frame and our own story-making, in what we experience.

"We are disturbed not by events, but by the views which we take of them." -- Epictetus (AD 55 - AD 135)

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." -- William James (1842-1910)

“The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them.” -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944)

Why? If problem solving is, by Einstein's reckoning, 95% problem definition (19 days out of 20), then we ought to do more than we do, to frame the problem. But we less-than-Einsteins tend to invert that, don't we? And it's not just how we allocate time, spending most of it on "solving." We assign our most talented, most experienced technical people to "problem solution"... Instead of creating the most talented, diverse and multi-disciplinary team to work on iteratively defining the "problem" and the "solution" (I'm using the terms loosely). In a fractal world, the "solution" becomes the next set of problems, which need to be defined. And so it goes. Becoming better at problem definition ought to hold even more payoff than becoming better at problem solution! ;-)Ok, ok. I'm teasing, but we do need to get better at problem definition, don't we? Even doing what Einstein did (at least, if I read Feynman correctly, when he--Einstein--was younger and more open)--actively, inquisitively, looking at the problem from different angles, and actively, imaginatively, visualizing.I used these in my innovation slidedeck:

"Imagination is Everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein

"Without this playing of fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth...the debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable." - Jung

"The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas and then throw away the bad ones." - Linus Pauling

We are just so impressively, hugely efficient in our inefficient approaches! An idea. March. No wasted time upfront. No wasted time at every decision point. Come up with an idea. Run with it. Do. Do. Do. Make do. Which is not to argue for swinging the pendulum back to analysis paralysis! Only to do the fail thing more quickly, and more cheaply--and much, much more collaboratively! Grin. Linus Pauling was onto something, wasn't he? What I like about Einstein and Feynman and Pauling is that they were so aware of their own process--and how to overcome the flawed nature of our internal process. Feynman was awesome individually, and awesome in his "playing well with others." And did he play! He was the quintessential stinker/prankster! Even within the very competitive academic traditions, there are plenty of great examples of collaborations and many of the great breakthroughs happen in collaborations across disciplines. In system development, collaboration is a means to increase bandwidth, and to bring varied expertise and perspective to bear to create and evolve complex systems that combine elements of proven and highly novel approaches, technologies, principles, etc., drawing on a variety of disciplines (in the "solution" or "technology" domain and in the "problem" or "business" domain).The truth is seldom a black and white thing--even if individuals whose style is to see only polarizations may perceive it that way.         10/28/09 On the Stack

  • Jan Hannemann, Gail C. Murphy and Gregor Kiczales. Role-Based Refactoring of Crosscutting Concerns. AOSD 2005.
  • Brian de Alwis, Gail C. Murphy and Martin Robillard. A comparative study of three program exploration tools. ICPC 2007.
  • Marc Eaddy, Alfred Aho and Gail C. Murphy. Identifying, assigning and quantifying crosscutting concerns. ACOM 2007.

Captain's Log, Star Date 200910.28 I must, must, must explicitly link the VAP Decision Model and the VAP views (the VAP poster helps visualize the views) -- at least rewriting the Central Concerns, Key Decisions and VAP overview chapters to make the link between the two more clear, as well as updating them to better reflect what we've learned. In retrospect, it was perhaps not so smart to call it a decision model and a process model (how to create and inter-relate the views to make and express the decisions) when others were calling theirs frameworks and view models (and stopping at that). So, I have to provide the translation, and a clear characterization of the value VAP (with its underlying decision and view model) adds... I can do that. 10/29/09 Convergence?Grady Booch has a thought-provoking post about frameworks today. He observes:

"...that there are so many EA frameworks out there speaks to the vibrancy of that market, but my experience tells me that there are too many chasing the same problem, and eventually the market will make its choice..." -- Grady Booch's blog, 10/29/09

We already encounter organizations that have chosen to standardize on TOGAF. This simplifies choice among vendors, is the "low-risk" (including from a management sanction standpoint) route, etc. All the good stuff of standards. And the bad? Innovation thrives on diversity, and homogenizing one of the most strategic activities of an organization seems well... like we should at least think about it... So, there is an alternative view that says at the same time as we'll see some convergence/shakeout in the vendor-specific frameworks space, we'll also see organizations creating proprietary frameworks that express the unique needs of that corporation or agency, etc.  They may derive from and map to organizing frameworks like Zachman and TOGAF, but be sufficiently unique and organization-specific to warrant their own identity. And hopefully there will continue to be room for those of us who push at the next frontier. As you may know, we've been promulgating EA as business capabilities architecture since 2002, and the capabilities approach is now incorporated in TOGAF 9. Much of what we do, though, is not yet part of TOGAF, and provides a unique connectedness to business strategy on the one hand, and systems and software architecture on the other. The space needs innovators because lead adopters of these innovations have a strategic advantage especially if others are singing from the same choir book. Naturally that is a self-serving view. I do also want to say that the decision and view model that underlies [the] VAP, does have significant differences from the 4+1 view model. One can map 4+1 to elements of the Visual Architecture Decision Model, which is natural because they have common roots in the UML and architecture practice. But, at least we claim that the differences make a difference...  :-) A case in point: the 4+1 model doesn't distinguish between conceptual and logical architecture, and the conceptual architecture is a very, very powerful view and worth, I believe, drawing out. The separation of concerns and simplicity of the conceptual architecture (the primary models are the conceptual architecture diagram and the CRC-R descriptions) makes it a great tool for (re)factoring, creating crisp abstractions, and role-based and responsibility-driven design. Not that it is the only view that serves this purpose, but huge mileage can be gained with it--if it is used as intended, as a view that gets worked and reworked. And shredded and worked and reworked again! As dives are taken into other views and more is learned. And as alternative approaches are insisted upon and the responsibilities are actively surfaced and sculpted, reframed and refactored.So, I logged an action item to move updating the first two chapters ahead of developing new material. And I have to remind myself that just because I see lots of places where those chapters need to be updated, they are still a significant contribution to the space. But I do want to reflect our current thinking in that work, and to better position its distinctive contribution to the field.      That said, the bottom line is: architects pick what elements of any decision model or framework (or process with implicit framework) to adopt and require, and which to recommend (and which to drop), within their group. We learned that right off the bat, working with OOAD projects to understand what we needed to do with Team Fusion. So no matter what framework is nominally used, the important thing is what is being expressed, reflected and decided upon, what design intent is governed and what is allowed to morph, etc. Using the lessons of history and practice that are rolled up into a decision framework and process as a starting point makes a lot of sense as it provides short cuts and helps fill in for potential blind-spots and omissions. And adapting and creating an organization-specific tailoring is reasonable--at least it is the dominant practice! So, I conclude it is entirely reasonable. No, seriously, the organization's architects have their own knowledge and experience and style to bring to bear, and this is a good thing. If architecture is the translation of business strategy into technical strategy that guides and aligns implementation, then the process used to make that translation ought to include the best practices and inspired insights of the architects involved! Which isn't to say you shouldn't use VAP exactly as stated--if that's what you want me to say. :-)              In conclusion, as much as we're likely to see convergence, we will also continue to see divergence. In part, this is because of the drive to differentiate (which helps explain why, in the context of large-scale convergence on UML, the nascent Agile movement downplayed modeling). And in part because there is a need to fuse process with the identity and unique context and needs of an organization.10/30/09 MetaphorsSculpting is a nice metaphor, though it doesn't by any means completely describe the process. But what I like is that it conveys that so-important element of the process that is the taking away, to reveal the structure. Photography has elements that serve as nice metaphors too--the selective focus, the choice of theme, the patterns, the details and a sense of timing, the big picture, the context, the human element, etc. And the application of knowledge and technique; skill and talent; and an artistic, keen aesthetic sensibility. The choices made in composing, framing, lighting and focusing the shot. And the post-processing. But before all that, there is the exploring, the photographer putting himself in the place to find the pictures that will stir our heart and our mind with an equal sense of blessing. By place I mean geographically: in the large like Bainbridge Island, but also in the woods, the garden, and along the daily paths of life. And in terms of openness to the opportunities in the small, and the crafting of the opportunities in the large.I joke about envying Brian's location, but he combines technical execution with a delight in exploring and revealing that must also be a hallmark of a great system architect--though I had never thought about it that way. Does that make sense? If we enjoy, delight in, finding the beautiful, the simple, the patterned, the fit of form to purpose and context, and drawing that structure out and realizing it, then we will strive to create great systems. At the same time, I'm also realizing how important it is to enjoy the wild. And I see that in Brian's pictures too. How he can accept and make an artwork of the wild mess of Nature, as well as the elegant structures of Nature unobscured by blemish or out-of-place, distracting messy bits. And that is what we have to be able to balance, to create a harmony between order and chaos--we need to embrace the chaordic nature of modern systems. We try to blend intentional attempts to create clean beautiful structures and set things to rights when they drift from pure form. Or a form begins to emerge and we "post-process" to reveal, simplify and finely craft it. And we allow that the pace, the uncertainty, the interacting changing world, mean that we need to embrace some degree of chaos in trade for speed and adaptability, and we need to strive to bring order, to gain speed and adaptability. Yes, we have to live with paradox. The key, though, is not to push to either-or, but rather to realize that this is a balance we are forever striving to reach. When a tree falls, sometimes it must be cleared away, and sometimes it can be allowed to become a bed for beautiful mushrooms to grow on and under, helping to return the tree to a rich compost for new trees--mushrooms that Brian will see and render so sensitively for us.To achieve this balance, we must be able to ask the right questions...

"Doctors have to be able to ask the right questions. That calls for extraordinary observation skills -- the observation skills of a painter, of a sculptor. So, medical schools are taking students to art museums to make them better diagnosticians. And, lo and behold, doctors who receive this type of diagnostic training are better diagnosticians than those who haven't. "

– Daniel Pink, "The Pink Prescription: Facing Tomorrow's Challenges Calls for Right-brain Thinking," Knowledge@Wharton, June 10, 2009

Sculptors, photographers, ... diagnosticians, architects all share deep technical knowledge of their field, but this knowledge is nothing if they don't notice, if they don't sharpen their powers of observation and their ability to separate out what is important, and to balance theoretical purity, technical excellence and/or artistic aesthetics with pragmatic considerations.

"The best computer scientists are…technologists who crave beauty." David Gelernter

Aside I: Dana got really excited about mushrooms too, and has, for example, read Mycelium Running. It's neat having Dana around, because I get a wonderful window on more books than I can read--Dana is a great storyteller and debriefer, as those of you who have worked with Dana know. I'm not nothing. But he is something! :-) Aside II: I know, I've abused Brian sorely this month, but it was a month of taking photos--which for me becomes a month for admiring Brian's work, and his relish, all the more! But don't worry, if he was to stumble here, a moment of acknowledgment won't go to his head! Some people are just so foolish about open-hearted joyful acknowledgment! Like we can admire trees but not celebrate great work--the product, and the person who builds the capacity to create great work!  Hmmpff. What does a person work for? Yes, their own pleasure in the work and its product. But it would be a very, very lonely and bleak world if that were all. So, I have nothing to gain, but even if I did, I would still think it right to say--Brian's photo journal is a delight. It inspires me, and pleases my heart and mind, and touches my soul, because it is technically excellent but it is so much more than that. It is a visual expression of that "awe-struck seeking" and joy of man's desiring, joy of man's aspiring that so makes us when we live all out! I like where Brian seeks and what he finds--and that he shares that with us. Including his wife's blue ribbons and his daughter's furry friends. Oh, but if I was to want to gain something, it would be a recipe or two from his wife for my husband and son! My boys are experimenting with pie recipes, getting ready for Thanksgiving. I am very proud of my boys, and I'm very thankful that they own Thanksgiving! 10/30/09 Value PropositionsCharlie Alfred does have a new post!  Good read, Mr. Myth Buster!When we're doing Stakeholder Profiles, I often encourage architects to structure value propositions using the form value X so that value Y which allows for expression of the subjective or personal or derived value behind the potentially more objective initial term in the value statement. Charlie's examples and discussion will help me to better frame that up! And yes, we encourage architects to think about value statements; right, this is a primary responsibility of marketing folk. Still, if we value more concurrency in the process and multi-disciplinary teams for innovation, agility and responsiveness, then architects are drawn into the definition of value. And we have much to offer, because we see what technology can and does bring to the value table. But also architects need to be able to express the value of the architecture, if it represents any departure from status quo. And at this point in our industry, it generally does. 10/30/09 Visualization Topicsnetwork visualization and graph visualization applications

information visualization


 10/31/09 Happy Halloween! My son was Qui-Gon for Halloween. An interesting choice, don't you think? A mentor, and a free thinker who trusted his own senses though it cost him a position on the Jedi Council. I wonder where he gets that? Not!


Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Malan
URL: http://www.ruthmalan.com
Page Created: May 1, 2006
Last Modified: December 14, 2018

I also write at:

- Bredemeyer Resources for  Architects

- Trace In the Sand Blog


- Re-architecting requirements

- An eye for an eye

- Telling Visuals

- Collective Memory

- Gestalt Principles

- Systems References

- Boundary Conditions and Interfaces

- Visualized in His Mind's Eye

- Integrating Acquisitions

- Resource Manager Patterns

- Inspiring Stumbles

- We Made the History

- Workshop Update

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- Strategy Should Happen Fractally

- Wait a Minute!

- Nobel Peace Prize

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- Elements of Architecture

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- From the Mouths

- Great Collaborations

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- Leaders are made by the Need

- Patent Storm

- My Scout, My Hero

- System Architecture

- Software Architecture Document

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- Tribal Memory

- Structure and Self-Deception

- Call for Papers

- Leaders Are Made--Take 2

- What We Are Paying Attention To

- Elevation Change

- Magical Morning

- Gentle Action

- Stretches

- Cool Visualization

- Poiesis

- models@runtime

- Leaping Chasms

- What's Wrong with the Picture

- Wag More, Bark Less

- Autopoiesis

- Blinders and Blunders

- On the Stack

- Captain's Log

- Convergence

- Metaphors

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