Thinking aboutA Trace in the Sand

by Ruth Malan





Architects Architecting Architecture  

Hatter (by Sara B.)April 2012


What's a Trace?

A Trace is a great place for fools, really. And this day is for us!

Ok. If it wasn't April 1, how would I characterize this Trace? Well, let's allow a few posts to characterize it for you:

Image: by Sara B.

4/20: Let's try this characterization on: A Trace is a Serendipity Engine -- filtered by relevance to architects (strategy, leadership, organizational effectiveness/politics, consulting and technical) architecting (context, capabilities, structure and dynamics, intention and reflection) architecture (system/technical strategy, conceptual, logical, physical and decisions, guidelines, patterns and policies) and annotated to draw out insight.


Laws, Principles and Heuristics

Alex Matthews selection from the wikipedia Eponymous Laws page is a treat.

Wikipedia has a handy reference list of "laws" from Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail by John Gall -- the list is no substitute for the book, of course, but makes for a handy summary.

Robert C. Martin's Design Principles and Design Patterns (2000) did a nice job of laying out principles for avoiding system rot: (Single Responsibility, Open Closed, Liskov Substitution, Interface Segregation, Dependency Inversion, ..., Acyclic Dependencies, ..., Stable Abstractions). Other principles and heuristics are useful. Such as:

Robustness Principle (also known as Postel's Law): Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send. -- wikipedia

Heuristics and guiding principles:

Obviously this is barely a start! What else should we collect here? What principles and heuristics do you find useful, and share with your teams? (And while we're about it, if you have checklist recommendations, pass those along too please. :-)

Of course, as heuristics for architects go, Eb Rechtin is the architect's go to source. Wow, the wikipedia page on Eb Rechtin is really wanting! The man was a pioneer of systems architecting! It is my view/understanding that his 1990 book helped define the new field, giving it an exceptionally well-articulated self-concept and heuristics-based guide to the artful practice of systems architecting. Well, here's some history that might interest you: Thanks to Daniel for reminding me and giving me the new/corrected link!

4/4/12: Wow^3! (That's a "Wow" with volume! Not just amplified, but filling space!) Tom Gilb has John Gall slated to keynote at his GilbFest in London in June:

  • HOW TO USE CONSCIOUS PURPOSE WITHOUT WRECKING EVERYTHING By John Gall, MS, MD, FAAP A talk prepared for presentation at the annual Gilbfest, London, UK, June 25, 2012

Tom sent us John Gall's script for his keynote address. It is phenomenal!!! I'm so excited. I mean stop the buses, this is John Gall circa 2012 and it's just what we need! You definitely want to get yourself on Tom's invitation list. The focus of the GilbFest this year is principles! Don't you just love Serendipity?

The first iteration on my "Iterative development" sketch tribute to Escher and GilbNow, I'm sure you know that we go back a long way in terms of following and integrating Tom Gilb's work -- first our colleagues in HP's Software Initiative met Tom through his work on inspections, then Todd Cotton brought Tom's work on Evo into our work on Fusion. Remember Evo-Fusion? Evo and architecture, a focus on teams and just enough method (JEM) along with UML for visual modeling with a focus on dynamics and structure were the key differentiating features of Team Fusion. Then we followed Tom's work on the pLanguage which became his Competitive Engineering book. Tom is passionate about software and has made so many field shaping contributions to it. And his "GilbFests" are a singular opportunity for stimulating new connections that accelerate innovation.

As for John Gall. I read his keynote address script and fell quite in love with the mind* of the man. It isn't just the span of his thoughful encounter, though that is vast and magnificent and raises awe the way seeing the Grand Canyon or the stars does. It is the connections he makes; the new insights he prompts to life as he draws from across this span. Emergence in action (though the elements are superb universes of element and emergence themselves), guided by a skilful mind towards a given but also emerging, adapting purpose.

And John is humble. Hubris for some is a platform used to stake out a claim on attention. For me, though, it sets off my sensors because hubris tends to come with self-congratulation and occlusion of the points of view of others which creates blinkering focus -- focus being good, sure, but also partial.

* Oh right. Lest your meme sensors are dull, let me hurry to point out that "brain-crush," "man-crush," "girl-crush" or (my favorite) "fall in love with the mind of" simply point to the modern awareness that ... our brains enjoy the sensation of insight generation, beauty of thought expression triggering enjoyment pathways much as other kinds of enjoyment triggers. At least, that's what I make of the meme.

Towering Inferno Principle...

Access Code

This is a wonderful article that, in addition to being a neat story of leadership, will hopefully persuade many young women to consider computer science:

And this, via Greg Wilson, is a good backgrounder to many of the issues still beleaguering our field:

4/15/12: This is why we need women in software! She's awesome! So many lessons!


Porter-Forward: Clusters

I pointed out Porter's work on clusters in the ecosystems (and related) exploration. So Matthew Taylor's Cluster Muster post caught my eye. In his TEDGlobal talk, Steven Johnson is also asking "what is the space of creativity" -- what is the architecture of the environment that provides the conjugal bed where ideas have sex (pharaphrasing only in so much as the words are somewhat rearranged).


Today's From the tweet streamBeaker

Where we have come from, and how long it took to get here:

Where we are going, and how fast!




Listening at the feet of giants...Listening at the Feet of Giants

Rereading my pointer to Eb Rechtin's Oral History, I was reminded that many of the giants of my encounter are architects. That includes Eb, who spent a day working with us on the design and content of our first software architecture workshop back in the mid-90's.

One of the gratifications of keeping this Trace, is that some of the architects who stood out in workshops for that wonderful combination of technically sharp, effective leaders with great system sense, stop by here a few times each month. [I say that not as a point of flattery but with a sense of amazed wonder that it should be true!] It is remarkable that the giants of my encounter who teach me so much still find my Trace a useful resource. Or perhaps not so remarkable. Giants are, because they are curious and quest Bliss-followingly -- what we learn is far more a product of what we bring in set of mind and openness of heart. The rest is making allowance for happy accident and I'm as good an agent of Serendipity as any... though perhaps I do make more words dance in the process of conducting Serendipity's business. Uh.. without a doubt more words! Grin.

Oh, and as agents of Serendipity go, Jack Martin Leith is available to help your team make new connections, and give change a little nudge in just the right spot to set the future on a new vector. I have never worked with Jack, but my sense from a small interaction is that he is generous with a career-full of team effectiveness treasures he's amassed so, especially if you're in the UK -- particularly Bristol -- you might like to consider having him facilitate some future hacking or nudging/minimalist intervention, etc. with your team.

Well, tune in tomorrow and I'll give you a snippet or two by way of a preview of John Gall's upcoming keynote at Tom Gilb's GilbFest! It is excite-the-brain great!! It is such a wonderful paper/address!

4/5/12: Ok, here is a snippet that I can fit to purpose -- that being my desire to be of service to Jack and to you:

"In my opinion feedback still gets far too little attention. Stafford Beer, way back in the 1970’s, recommended looking at biological systems for inspiration. Now we know how truly visionary he was. We should have listened to him." -- John Gall

Jack was listening to Stafford Beer -- not in the 70's so far as I know, but enough to have lunch with him ... in the 90's? (I'll have to check. Ah: "It was dinner with Stafford Beer. The year was roughly 1989-90. A curry house in Manchester." -- Jack) So you might want to give Jack a chance to share some stories with your team.

John Gall concludes that section with:

"If I were an engineer and just starting out today, I would make a hobby of biology and study all branches of it for clues." -- John Gall

I agree. I would advocate too that engineers starting out today listen at the feet of (and pour over the thought products of the minds of) the wise elders or statesmen of our tribes. Yes, including listening to architects -- in our fast changing technology world, there's a tendency to undervalue wisdom born of reflecting on and engaging with intellectual ferocity with understanding and insight. Though, no, I don't conflate sage and age. Nor do I think that all giants of thinking have written books or otherwise climbed the formal ladders of our intellectual hierarchies. I also value the lessons trial teaches. Analogy -- especially biomimicry. And direct and indirect experience.

I desperately want to quote substantive pieces of the address and I've been given permission to do so, but I won't because I don't want to dilute the power of John Gall's message. I will however use all my persuasive power to try to get the paper published after the keynote is given in June. I'm sure that doing so will lead to more invitations to John to keynote, and hopefully keynote by keynote a book of essays will be wrought! I long for that book -- the address/essay is that good! Breathtakingly so!

4/14/12: Oh, this fits the bill, nicely: The Nature Technology - Magic Of Motion

Betrayal of public trust (gruesome visualization... shock therapy to dislodge us from complacency...??)


Betrayals of Public/Consumer Trust

As connectedness grows, transparency grows and the boundaries between protecting personal privacy and protecting public and consumer confidence and trust are blurry and a matter of growing public policy concern... But just like it is clear when a pile of sand is a pile of sand but hard to tell when grains of sand no longer form a pile when you remove a grain at a time (Modeling Complex Adaptive Systems (video), John Holland), it can be quite clear when consumer trust has been betrayed... and not so. You be a judge of whether this is a clear case:

Personal privacy?

“We’re living through a golden age of behavioral research. It’s amazing how much we can figure out about how people think now.” -- Charles Duhigg, How Companies Learn Your Secrets, Feb 16, 2012

Not just people. Specific people. You! And me. You don't think that's such a big deal, since you already know more than you want about me. But it is a matter of use of information for purposes we didn't expect. For example, to create "push" marketing that barges in on our time and personal emotional, mental and physical space. Oh sure, analytics is part of my background and I'm at least toe deep in the big data space, so I have a stake in both sides of what unfolds here. And I think the ethical and societal questions around privacy (and transparency and accountability) need to be addressed because we're slip-sliding down a steep slope here. This, in case you missed it last month, warrants reading:

As for Google search... instead of Google (or Microsoft) thinking it should get smart about me, why not have Google assume that I can get smart about search? If Google presents me with a moving target, how do I get smart about my search queries? So why doesn't Google flip their thinking around, and help me search smarter, rather than making me less effective by giving me sludge under my search feet? I want something solid and reliable to move against, so I can navigate the information space with tools that are useful to me. I don't want Target or Google second-guessing me because they just, well, aren't that smart that they can predict what I will be interested in not given the past but given the spanking new configuration that is my experience of NOW. That is why Twitter is so effective. For example, I didn't know I was interested in the post about our techno-booze culture until it was tweeted by not just one but several tech-heads I admire. Nothing in my history would have led there, because I'm one who prefers to encounter life with unadulterated mental clarity.

But things are going to get more intense, as we figure out how we want modern society to be -- what we want to enable, what we want to thwart, what we want to protect and what we want to encourage:

“This isn’t a product. It’s a provocation,” says Levin. “We should be free to invent without having to worry about infringement, royalties, going to jail or being sued and bullied by large industries. We don’t want to see what happened in music and film play out in the area of shapes.” -- Andy Greenberg, How A Geek Dad And His 3D Printer Aim To Liberate Legos, Forbes, April 23, 2012


ps. My son immediately pointed out the evil mechanism would take a lot more energy because it's not symmetric. My concern is trying to get the complicated contraption in my head expressed simply enough that my hand can execute, and he's worrying about it being a bad design. Boys! ;-) Well, that's what iteration is for. When there's time for it. And inclination. Since it's just you and me, let's agree to put up with it, ok?


Disruptive Innovation

Many of our examples of innovation that disrupts ecosystems come in the form of those that open up new markets creating, as it were, a wedge that penetrates between existing markets and creates a new relationship space, disrupting and replacing webs of value streams in the neighboring existing markets. The iPhone is a classic example. The case of converting non-consumption to consumption is interesting, as is this article that describes it:


The No-No Rewrite

System rewrites that are cancelled due to going over budget and schedule -- or loss of organizational patience -- get attention. Those that pull through to launch don't get any fanfare. I think we need a reality check. Have you seen a sensible study of rewrites and success/failure rates? Michael Feathers is suggesting that we "let old systems die" -- and we do, more often than the industry perhaps acknowledges, create nextGen systems. For many, that is out-of-favor and it is said (optimistically) we piecemeal growth and refactor our way to betterness, and yet still there are, it seems to me, just as many re-engineering efforts. One of the things I'd like to know, is: are we increasing the rate of impatience and abandonment of rewrites with this notion that we can refactor our way clear of the muddle? Inertia mounts as the system becomes more kludgy, and interwoven dependencies on the underlying technologies, and coupling within the code, makes it hard to gracefully move to other technologies and to regroove the system for scale and change... Sure, we want to start out with disciplined refactoring and evolution. But life is fast, and discipline is a shape-shifting beastie -- we (the generalized we of the industry) can argue that "discipline" in this moment means rushing to meet some opportunity like the Holiday shopping season. Tumble, tumble... Kludge. Well, the whole rewrite thing demands a serious post, but in the meantime if you have seen studies that help get a sense of the lay of the land please let me know. (Rewrites are one of the times that architecture is taken seriously, so our sampling/view on the industry is possibly skewed.)



Chapter Synopsis

In chapter X, Ruth Malan and Dana Bredemeyer use an ecosystem lens to explore the tensions between stability and change, and motivate a more textured conception of agility. With this context set, they explore the implications for strategy and the relationship between strategy and architecture, and the fractal nature of this strategy-architecture tandem.  They make the case that embracing a fractal and emergent approach allows for an organic, dynamic way to shape and express organizational intentionality, while fostering the innovation factor inherent in empowered responsive local action. They draw this together in a conceptual framework with interrelated views to illustrate the relationships and their interactions and provide a frame for enacting the approach.

What do you think? Are you eager, eager, eager to read it?



In the "truff urts" category?

...and what it leads to...

That last could be a really positive point, but given the context set by the conversation, probably not intended that way. Indeed, if there is a way to melt intransigence, it is through human interactions! (Polyanna smile. And a Puck-ish wink.)



Now this writing is beautiful:

The “beauty” of mathematics is a fact of creative life. The beauty of software code is also a fact of creative life. Math people and coders both know that those beauties are real, real like anvils. Yet that is a truly deep and wicked aesthetic problem. A modern aesthetic movement who could resolve that problem would have a grand achievement. Instead of merely collecting weird seashells on the vast Newtonian shore, they’d be able to state that they had carried out a huge land-reclamation project.


The arts and sciences are, clearly, almost equally bewildered by their hardware now. The antique culture-rift of C. P. Snow doesn’t make much sense five decades later — not when sciences and the fine arts are getting identical public beatings from Lysenkoist know-nothings. Those abject talking-heads, abandoning charge of their machine-crazed economy.… Come home, artists and scientists; all is forgiven!

Our hardware is changing our lives far more profoundly than anything that we ever did to ourselves intentionally. We should heed the obvious there, and get used to that situation. We should befriend one another, under that reality. We should try to see what that means.

-- Bruce Sterling, An Essay on the New Aesthetic, April 2, 2012

Isn't it beautiful?! And yes, we should!


The new imperialism?


"By studying social immunity at a system level in insects perhaps we can find emergent properties that we have been missing in another important social animal—the human." -- Sylvia Cremer, How social contact with sick ants protects their nestmates

And interesting:



The Matter of Change

If we're interested in agility, or innovation in product, service and process, somewhere in the picture there is a notion that things are changing. Changing faster. Changing unexpectedly and disruptively, upsetting expectations and established order, relationships, patterns.

Ecosystems are important. How important? This important:

"That's why Microsoft is throwing everything it has into creating a new ecosystem. It can't afford to be wrong." David Goldman, Microsoft's master plan to beat Apple and Google, April 17, 2012:

Rhino and tick birds -- emblematic of having evolved for mutual synergyCo-Evolution

Co-creation comes up a lot, as a way to engage diverse perspectives in conceiving and creating a mutual outcome. Co-evolution is an important topic in our ecosystem exploration. It is useful to investigate co-evolution in terms of a larger frame view of co-creation, considering the larger value network and the creation of complements and supplements, directly, but also the role of competitors -- who, afterall, help to drive learning in the ecosystem, not just as a matter of survival, but by increasing the exploratory investments in what is valuable and doable, adds to the ecosystem capacity to thrive.

"The big idea: Invention used to be 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. These days, it's probably 50 percent collaboration. Companies trying to commercialize innovations won't succeed unless suppliers, distributors, and other partners can and will do their parts."
-- Leigh Buchanan, Skimmer's Guide: The Wide Lens Reviewing The Wide Lens: A New Strategy for Innovation, by Ron Adner., Inc. magazine, Apr 3, 2012

Adner's work on ecosystems, along with Michael Porter's work on clusters, are useful inputs to our exploration of co-evolution.

The Age Of Insight contains a great story of how a city and the culture it grew, changed our conception of humanity. It is a great example of the "coffee house" function of centers where ideas are exposed to each other and vibrant minds are stimulated to pushing various of our knowledge/conception boundaries substantively. This, by way of introduction and enticement:

"As a Christmas present to the citizens of Vienna, in 1857, Franz Josef ordered the demolition of the old walls surrounding the city, and replaced these walls with the Ringstrasse – a grand boulevard that would encircle the city. The Ringstrasse now became lined with a wonderful set of public buildings such as the Opera House, the Theater, and the Museum of Fine Arts and Natural History. As a result, the city attracted many people of different ethnic and religious origins from all over the Empire, who were drawn to Vienna, for its beauty, its music, and its emphasis on intellectual and cultural achievement. A number of these people went on to pioneer a distinctive form of Modernism that characterized Vienna and distinguished it from Modernism in France, Italy and Germany." -- Eric Kandel interviewed by Jonah Lehrer, The Age Of Insight, April 7, 2012

Cities and organizations connect people, bringing together information and capabilities to create advances in knowledge and technology. Joi Ito argues that complexity today demands extended organizations, even ecosystems, not just organizations to accomplish and advance:

"most products are combinations of knowledge and intellectual property that resides in different organizations. Our world is less and less about the single pieces of intellectual property and more and more about the networks that help connect these pieces." -- Joi Ito, The Cognitive Limit of Organizations, Oct 7, 2011

In a comment on Joi's post, Tom Lowenhaupt quotes from Jane Jacobs:

"...the more niches that are filled in a given natural ecology ... the more efficiently it uses the energy at its disposal, and the richer it is in life and means of supporting life." ..."economies producing diversely and amply for their own people ... are better off than specialized economies..." and "In a natural ecology, the more diversity there is, the more flexibility" because of "homeostatic feedback loops" and "it is the same with our economies." -- Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations,

One might argue that it is not because the information burden exceeds the cognitive limit, but that the capability to create more flexible relationships encourages more diversity. Which brings us back to Dave Gray's (wonderful) Wrangling Complexity post and points about loose coupling.

Wave of changeCharacterizing change: how fast are things really changing? why? what is changing?

"The rate of change of the technology world has become the beat to which markets transform. But the rate of change “outside” companies is now faster than the internal velocity of organizations." -- Peter Hinssen, New Focus Of EA: Preparing For An "Age Of Agility"

  • The Other Arab Spring, Thoms L. Friedman: April 7, 2012 -- climate change impacts social change. (An early spring in Indiana has everyone on tenderhooks, not knowing what all this portends for the coming growing season. We were told that bees follow light, while blossoms and flowers follow temperature. If that's true, that's not good!)

  • "In every year since 1989, new companies have created more net jobs than the economy as a whole, which means that older companies are, on average, destroying more jobs than they create. In 2009, the latest year for which we have data, new businesses created 2.33 million jobs, while older businesses destroyed, on net, more than 7 million jobs. The share of Americans working in startups has fallen to 2 percent in 2009 from 3.8 percent in 1979." -- Edward Glaeser, Fire Up America’s Jobs Factory With Aid for Startups, March 26, 2012

  • "The technology landscape is hitting another inflection point. Much as the personal computer created a platform for software makers in the 1980s, smartphones and tablets are now setting the table for another big transfer of wealth as new companies arise and dominant PC-based companies struggle to make the shift." -- Spencer Ante, Riches in Mobile Ads, Just No Profits, April 16, 2012

  • " In his book Beyond the Stable State, written in 1971, Donald Schön makes the case that the widespread use of meta-technologies like computers and communication systems (he was writing this well before the widespread public use of the World Wide Web) have not only represented rapid change in and of themselves, but they have become platforms which have facilitated far more rapid innovation and diffusion of every other type of technological and social change as well. In such a world, says Schön, 'What is curious is not that we are forced at intervals to abandon some stable state, but that we manage to maintain belief in it in the first place.'" -- Christian , Moving Beyond Stability, November 7, 2011

Examples that punctuate the tidal shifts:

  • "Alexander Graham Bell filed his patent for the telephone in February 1876. By April 1877, the first commercial telephone lines were being installed."
    -- Konstantin Kakaes, Is Science Really Moving Faster Than Ever? Entry 1: It’s impossible to tell, April 2, 2012
  • "The first trans-Atlantic telegraph was a sea change in a way that few later developments have been: All of the sudden, these lands that had been sundered by weeks could communicate near-instantaneously."
    -- Konstantin Kakaes, Is Science Really Moving Faster Than Ever? Entry 1: It’s impossible to tell, April 2, 2012
  • '“The violence with which new platforms have displaced incumbent mobile vendor fortunes continues to surprise,” says wireless industry analyst Horace Dediu', Bye Bye Blackberry (see also "The Hall of Fallen Giants")
  • "Before online retailing, the adoption chain consisted of innovators, distributors, physical retailers, and end customers. These days, with and other online retailers, it’s more complicated.", Kirk Kardashian, Dinosaurs of the Retail Ecosystem, April 2012
  • Graphic shift: "publishers since 2005 have lost $26.7 billion in print advertising revenues while gaining only $1.2 billion in new digital revenue" -- Alan Mutter, Publishers lost $27 in print for every digital $1, April 9, 2012
  • "These companies have a particular allure for the new breed of business tech consumers; aka "bizumers." These are workers who shun the recommendations of IT departments to find for themselves devices and applications that make their work lives more efficient. The freemium and subscription nature of cloud applications makes this process of circumvention easy, and bizumers are fueling astonishing adoption rates for some enterprise startups." -- Christopher Lochhead, Enterprise software is back in black, April 12, 2012

Fortunes made...

Aside: We use the term cannibalize for something like the iPhone which shrinks the market for iPods because many of those considering an iPod would consider an iPhone instead. Of course, what is also going on is that we're giving customers a reason to buy a new, more complex (that is, higher capability) device from us -- we're creating new customers now out of customers who wouldn't have been purchasing the product from us because they already have our previous generation device.

Co-Evolution, Co-Creation and Creativity

"When you make a connection between two unrelated subjects, your imagination will leap to fill the gaps and form a whole in order to make sense of it." -- Michael Michalko, How Da Vinci Got His Ideas, March 18, 2012


fit to contextAdaptability and Elasticity

"[Haydn Shaughnessy] says that rapid scale at low risk and low cost, infused with participation from wholly new groups of economic actors that are now being called business ecosystems, allows different types of enterprises to flourish." -- Nilofer Merchant, The Elastic Enterprise, April 9, 2012

  • "The promise of cloud (and its various “as-a-Service” flavours) is that it takes the heavy lifting of maintaining and running IT out of your organisation and puts it into an organisation that performs those functions as their core businesss." -- Doug Newdick, Recognising That The Cloud Is About More Than Price And Convenience, April 9, 2012. And the heavy lifting has much to do with building expertise and the asset base to allow on-demand, and rapid, scaling.

Hedging or Staying Lean?

"the average number of employees per company has been steadily decreasing over the last decade" ... "In the last decade, the report finds, new establishments have been starting smaller and then staying smaller than their predecessors" -- Catherine Rampell, The Incredible Shrinking Payroll, April 10, 2012

(related: 'Shove It' indicator: More people now quit than get fired, John Melloy and The Rise of the Independent Work Force, Alexandra Levit, April 14, 2012 )

On the Wrong Side of Disruption

"This problem is even worse than it looks because many workers in existing industries will be stranded on the wrong side of software-based disruption and may never be able to work in their fields again. There's no way through this problem other than education, and we have a long way to go." -- Marc Andreessen, Why Software Is Eating The World, August 20, 2011

On the Right Side of Disruption

"Zappos is seemingly a natural meaningfully-purposeful enterprise (Purpose & Meaning) powered by or founded on mutual authentic & appreciative engagement" -- Si Alhir, Zappos’ Platform for Growth: Brand, Culture, Pipeline April 8, 2012 (Zappos, founded in 1999, grew to over $1 billion by 2008)

"a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue" -- Michael Luca, Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of, September 2011 (via Dave Gray)

“For decades, the center of computing has been the desktop, and software was modeled after the experience of using a typewriter,” said Georg Petschnigg, a former Microsoft employee who is one of the creators of Paper, a new sketchbook app for the iPad. “But technology is now more intimate and pervasive than that. We have it with us all the time, and we have to reimagine innovative new interfaces and experiences around that.” -- Georg Petschnigg quoted in A Billion-Dollar Turning Point for Mobile Apps, Jenna Wortham, April 10, 2012

What Else?

I've started to collect together some of these and other articles and books related to this business ecosystem thread on a Pinterest board. And I am creating a "visually indexed" set of links to articles, blogs and books that together help characterize the pace and landscape of change. Please do point me to other articles, books and so forth that have a bearing on these and related topics!

Peter Bakker pointed me to this interesting looking book for background:

4/10/12: Social values: Putting a number on network effects: "If we look strictly at the acquisition cost per user, Facebook got a relative deal with the Instagram purchase, paying roughly $28 for each of Instagram’s 35 million users. (The median cost across all the acquisitions is about $92 per )" -- Andy Baio, Instagram’s Buyout: No Bubble to See Here, April 10, 2012


4/11/12: Related:

4/15/12: Image: Strandbeest by Theo Jansen, used in "What Technology Wants" The image (and Theo Jansen's Strandbeests), article title and this thesis is interesting: "In general the long-term bias of technology is to increase the diversity of artifacts, methods, techniques." To increase diversity, by increasing the complexity of the building blocks, to advance what is possible.

4/16/12: An Amazon wave of creative destruction is now bearing down on social:

"Amazon, with their public/private highlights/notes from Kindle readers is creating a knowledge & interests ecosystem that will aggregate what the world is interested in, and what the world finds important... and what the world wants to buy more of." -- Valdi Krebs, The Next Big Thing, 4/14/2012

4/18/12: This WordRefried (via Kevlin Henney) fits the bill:


4/19/12: More Instagram and related such:

And it looks like I should read ‘The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity and the Radical Remaking of Economics’.

Pinterest is for visual serendipites like this! ...Nom Nom.

5/11/12: See also: Everything you know is wrong

  04/10/12The Matter of Change

Twittering Up... and pinning

What's Twitter about? I love this cartoon. ;-) No, no. Twitter is a Serendipity machine. And a (personal) brand megaphone and .... but importantly, from my perspective, a Serendipity machine.

But hey -- just 5 more followers to 200. ... [now just 2...] [now -- next person is number 200!] [Wahoo! 200! Actually, I think I hit 200 twice, because a spam-follower bailed right when Tony hopped on board.] [Back to 199 due to 4 spam followers bailing. You could be the 3rd 200!] Ah, don't you love Twitter's gamify-me sociometer? ... Or.... does it just turn us into beggars and cheats? ;-) ]

Well. To put that in perspective, I joined Twitter in May 2010, but only became (somewhat) active in March 2011. It is rewarding that a few people followed me first (rather than simply returning a follow).

So. Hm. How many people will join Pinterest to follow my boards? Or to follow my lead in establishing boards to serve as visual indexes to items of interest, because, you know, my Business Ecosystem board is just such a good example. Ha. Made you look. ;-) Ok. It shows promise, no? And, get this, it allows comments. You could, like, use it to inform and point me -- and others -- to ideas and explorations you find to be of related interest!

But, hmm... I find myself often quoting from the article I'm indexing to speed the process up... If that was primary, then wouldn't! be a better fit? I'll have to try! Uh oh... Social is taxing!

(To put this all in perspective, my daughter's Youtube channel has ~120 subscribers and 2,200+ video views -- in just a matter of months. She's building a little following with her stop motion videos for which she writes and performs her own songs and music -- so that she avoids copyright issues. The things kids worry about these days!)

4/24/12: Oh, right. You probably keyed in on the numbers. So to be sure you got it, because the point I made is important, let me draw out and highlight my point:

Put a dashboard on our self-esteem, and we become the game.

I, for example, take it as a point of pride to be more curious about people than they are about me. ;-) Do you see? Put numbers on our ego, and we will game it. In a world where social is a survival skill (figuratively, but in the past that made us, literally), social standing is wired deeply to be important to us, and we check up on our standing in the hierarchy. And even if we prefer an anti-hierarchy hierarchy we still have an eye on the scoreboard. So we enter the game. And I think hunger games is not unfit, as titles go, because it is a game that decreases true connections even as we drive the score up. I’m being playfully cynical, but I think there is more than a grain of truth in my playful observations.

As for the bit about Youtube, that is a stick insect too. Huh? A gem of insight, hidden in plain sight. What? Google is bet-the-business focused on G+ but all the while in Youtube it has, right under its nose, a social platform that is amazing. It takes girls to show you how! (As dashboards go, our kiddo now has ~150 subscribers and over 3200 video views!)

When I am disarmingly disclosing, have you not come to expect a payload of insight there for the grasping? Why would I post a silly entry about my Twitter numbers -- to embarrass myself? Or to share an insightful commentary, generously using myself as an example to make it safer for you to see yourself, and so more broadly others, in the mirror too? ;-)

So why mix in Pinterest? It has a different dashboard. It will be interesting to see how that evolves, and to see what importance Pinterest places on dashboard design. And if users will accept dashboard redesign once trust is wrapped around certain levels of visibility. And and and.

Do not underestimate me.You get far less than you might from me when you do. Most people do. So I become a sort of "secret potion" of those who realize I see and reveal what lies at the techno-strategic cusp. Lest that sound untowardly arrogant, let me hasten to add I am far from the only one so capable; moreover, my field of focus is naturally restricted, the day being ultimately finite no matter how much I try to bend time. Hence, I serve as a complement not as a substitute to you.

4/26/12: Here's a different a quite different (oh, but not contradictory) take: What Your Klout Score Really Means, Seth Stevenson, April 24, 2012


  04/11/12The Matter of Change


Cyber-sparring can bleed into cyber-bullying, and the latter can cause gentle folk to become leery of entanglement in social nets. On the topic of bullying, I've enjoyed Danah Boyd's blog for she is very insightful on the subject. This WSJ blog post by Danah is about bullying among children, but some of the insights apply to other settings, I think. She writes:

"Combating bullying—alongside other forms of aggression and violence—should be a social priority. But bullying is not just a youth problem. If we want to help young people, we need to put an end to adult meanness and cruelty and take responsibility for how we perpetuate problematic values and intolerance." -- Danah Boyd, Five Misunderstandings About Bullying, April 10, 2012


What is EA, Again?

What is EA -- again?

We can just keep (re)cycling. Mike Rollings used the opportunity to point back to earlier (re)useful blog posts:

Prompted by the last round of the "EA definition" chatter on Twitter, I offered the stream of observations collected under the colorful title:

Definition and relationships interactIn short, I was pointing out that our conception of EA (or our preferred view) plays a determining role in what we do, which influences our organization's perception of what EA is. But our organization's perception of what EA is, places us organizationally, and that context and its situated set of expectations, its formal relationships and the gates it sets in place to block or enable even informal relationships, also determines what we (are able to) do.

So our conception of EA -- our working definition, if you like -- is pivotal. And influential external conceptions of EA that influence how EA is set up within our organization also matter. And these interact. And the discussion may be tiresome -- lots of rehashing. And invigorating -- if the pace of change in the broader ecosystem infrastructure is setting the "biological clock" (like, when organizational forms will die out!) that is strategically and structurally significant and within the scope of enterprise architecture. Like, who knew? The whole freaking ecosystem is now in scope. Throes of despair and glee -- depending on what you were advocating and what your power plays will be.

Part of the definition and value question is addressed at setting (and raising!) expectations among our various organizational constituencies -- executives if we're trying to gain support in the c-suite for a more ambitious chartering and partnering between EA and strategy. And in part it is focused on our peers within EA, attempting to proliferate our chosen view of the discipline and practice.

Honestly, I think that is fine that we have various working and formal definitions or characterizations of EA. We don't have one perfect universal conception of strategy and that has allowed our notion of (business) strategy to evolve -- even evolve within companies and other organizations, but also to evolve differently, with tendrils of changing conception reaching across the broader landscape of organizations. I think it is also fine to have attempts to characterize EA and move the profession forward. I confess I do have qualms about certification and standardization of a field that is supposed to be highly strategic, hence should be free to reshape and reform itself quickly (not at the ponderous rate of committee-driven anything) and should be free to develop unique conceptions and do the work that is fit to the distinctive purpose, aspiration, context, culture and demands of its organization.

Um. I got a little dramatic there, didn't I? Freaking? Oops. ;-) But hey, what do you say when a brick is dropped on your toe? Yep. A brick. Or something more explosive! In other words, EA is reshaping and evolving. As it should. And the discussions can illuminate not just what EA is to organizations just getting started with gaining traction on the state of their enterprise technology base, but where organizations are looking at what it means to be agile at the business level and what EA is in the context of stategy-architecture integration and an organically fractal and emergent approach.

And you and I wonder why more people don't follow my Trace.... ;-) Not that we'd tell anyone. I mean, half the time who knows what this Q<= is on about? That bit about chocolate and nucleus accumbens, for example?

Also related, at least in so far as "territorial exploration" goes:

Of course, we want to know when something is not EA (and endangers what the rest of us can accomplish under the aegis of EA as a result). Allowing that you're great at translation (the stuff of working with analogies effectively), this is a thought-provoking post:

4/13/12: How we characterize EA, and hence what responsibilities we cluster into the role, and what relationships it has with other organizational elements, is architecturally significant (from an organizational architecture standpoint). That is to say, the structure and interactions are important to strategic outcomes. If we don't believe that, scrap architecture and its role in assessing and adapting design to achieve more the outcomes we want.

4/19/12: Gartner positions scoping EA to ITA as a "worst practice." Such leadership is good (and we likewise position EA as business capabilities architecture, first and foremost) in that it helps to shift the prevalent mindset thereby enabling enterprise architects to establish the structural relationships and set expectations about interactions and outcomes in order to fulfill EAs promise. But for the many EA teams organizationally housed within IT with organizational gatekeepers protecting islands of power, it is not very helpful to simply scoff. Which is where the left hand right hand work comes in. Showing value and working to shift the culture, expectations and relationship base for EA is what is pragmatic. There is a problem when "enterprise architects" are using the title and its time and resource allocation to just work their own disconnected-from-the-business agenda. Technology is so woven into business capabilities that I also get very uncomfortable about some of the attempts to position EA as business architecture, with IT Architecture as a waterfalled afterthought. Technology extends -- and more and more replaces -- the capabilities of people to make more sophisticated (in pre-technology terms inconceivable) business capabilities realizable, realized, and adapted and evolved into still more advanced capabilities. Strategy has to wise up to this interwovenness, and get that not only is "design thinking" important to organizations, but tech savvy is integral. Along with integrity, not just at the technical/structural level but organizational. We wouldn't conceive adapting and reshaping a building beyond a certain scale without a building architect because there is deep art and expertise that needs to be brought to bear. We're getting the idea pretty clearly that we need to develop a deeper, richer understanding of our enterprises to be able to bring intentionality and understanding to bear to create more resilient and adaptive, responsive organizations. Responsive, too, to the needs within the organization, and the broader ecology of its value networks. And to do that, we don't just need maps, helpful as those are, but also dynamic models that help us building "how it works" insight and the ability to simulate (in thought experiments, inventive role plays, ... and in compute simulations) adaptations and changes and even from the ground-up alternatives.

4/25/12: Here's a related perspective:

I think my sketches (above) do a good job of avoiding presaging the conclusion that evolution of EA would put EA in contention with strategy. Also, if you're excited about this (scroll down to the slideset):

you should definitely read this:

then again, let's just architect for system integrity and sustainability

Tech Fix

Fix Tech

Here's a great image for your "threats and failures" folder!

  04/12/12The Matter of Change

Antidote to Disillusionment

The whole utopia-dystopia themeset that frightened and inspired us at the dawn of the computing age is back -- with a vengeance. We see ourselves standing at the brink of huge possibility but with alarming ethical questions -- right when we are quite discouraged by mankind's ability to deal conscionably with the responsibilities we have been bequeathed, we people who can (and are) destroying this planet's ability to support life in anything like the form we know it.

We can't, like squirrels, simply attend to our own needs living more expansively in times of plenty and scaling back our lifestyle (whether and how many children we have, in the case of squirrels, at least as we observe them) in times of less resources. The impact of our actions is not local, but have consequences and impacts and are antecedents of actions splattered across the globe. But we also can't attend to every possible impact as a consequence of, or in anticipation of, etc., our needs and interactions. The information space, the choice space, the decision space, the action space, is just too vast! And yet, does it help to be disabled by such concerns?

We are rather amazing creatures. Inventive, creative... destructive. Intentional... with devastating unintended consequences.

Ok. Ok. We got it! We need architects!

Or. Forget it. Let's do this instead:

Right. Focus. Focus. Focus.

Actually, we are working our way into the next big thing. Maybe we'll nail it. Maybe we won't, but it has exciting world-changing, paradigm-shifting possibilities. Getting our teeth sunk into something meaningful is spirit lifting!

A lot more spirit lifting than writing a... navel-gazing Trace of no consequence...

Put like that... Oh well. The future is what we should not waste. The past holds on to us through the ruts it has carved around our lives. But we have to set our determination on what will be, if we make it so.


  04/13/12The Matter of Change

Big Data -- Big Telescope

"The Data Team's leader, Cameron Marlow, likens what they do to building a telescope, saying that the techniques they develop will transform scientific understanding of human behavior in the same way that astronomy transformed our understanding of the cosmos." Tom Simonite, Facebook's Telescope on Human Behavior, April 13, 2012

Amazon just launched a search service, but think what Facebook can learn about -- and sell ("productize") as services -- when it comes to "telescopes" or big data handling, visualization and analysis. As for the data ... think what the research community could do with such a telescope (scrubbing the data to protect, of course) -- their questions would be less shaped by Facebook's self-interest. Interesting twist...

(And what strange loops will we launch when the brain-of-interconnected-brains starts to reflect on itself...?)

4/14/12: Facebook's access to personal data has Google worried... Word to the wise: Tip of iceberg.


  04/14/12The Matter of Change

"Terrific" -- Check

<blush> Thank you, kind Sir!

Wahoo! Thanks Tony! Ok, now that I can check that off my bucket list, what's left?

Oh. Yeah. Right. My awesome family. Several books (to write, more to read). And an "Innovators over 40" award. [I tease myself mercilessly.]


Well, what's better than Tony's blog? Tony's blog with a guest appearance from Charlie Alfred! Y'all know I value/enjoy/learn from both of their blogs -- not to mention Charlie's papers.

4/16/12: Innovators over 40? Yup. In tech, "Innovators under 30" hardly seems like a group that needs to be encouraged with an award, does it? No. We need to show what we "over 40" can do. And we're going to open up a whole new avenue in the "slow movement." Giggle. It's actually so right for what we're up to, and yet it's turn-things-on-their-head awesome! Short attention span theatre will have its digital antidote.

4/20/12: Then again, there's this, via Rosemary: The case for old entrepreneurs, December 2, 2011



Since I follow Cory Booker, I saw his tweet about the fire:

What heroes are made of

I've mentioned Cory's leadership lessons, and this video, before, but they're worth revisiting! As leadership goes, notice what Cory tweets at that point where surely he was quite drained -- "we." "We got the woman..." That had to be a less guarded moment, and still he said "we." That speaks of an authentically collaborative orientation, don't you think?

"When Chuck Norris has nightmares, Cory Booker turns on the light & sits with him until he falls back asleep." -- @MilesGrant



Doesn't this just tell the entire story of creativity? (photo by Robert Doisneau) [Some part Divine inspiration and the subconscious accessed through "spacing out", some part copying from others (and combining and transforming), some part playing with ideas, some part "sleeping on it" and just good old thinking, reflecting, and executing on mental routines furrowed into brain pathways... What's that? I had you at the first phrase?

Photo by Robert Doisneau. Should that be captioned "Sources"?

Thanks to Google's celebration of 100 years since Robert Doisneau's birth, I looked at a good many of his extraordinary photos. The one above, and this quote, especially caught my magpie eye:

"I put all my trust in intuition, which contributes so much more than rational thought. This is a commendable approach, because you need courage to be stupid – it’s so rare these days when there are so many intelligent people all over the place who’ve stopped looking because they’re so knowledgeable." -- Robert Doisneau (as quoted in photography and music)

Well, we devoted a couple of workouts to watching Metropolis (1927; the extended version with restored lost footage). Really good timing, given Food, Inc., climate change and such. I really enjoyed it.

  04/15/12The Matter of Change

Shiny Things My Magpie Mind Brought Back to this Nest

comment not found

The above points here, where this made me LOL:

A new species -- developers!

#truth. ;-)

Skepticism has a place, but (some exceptions apply)

From Mike Rodhe's SXSW 2012 sketchnotes

From Mike Rohde's awesome SXSW 2012 Sketchnotes: 19-20 Go Forth and Make Awesomeness!


Network Tidbits

This is interesting, but it is missing a key point -- hierarchies (what org charts depict) are power trees because they gate resource and information flows. But informal networks are conduits for information and influence. And influence can open resource gates.

This struck me:

"The Web is no longer about linked pages but about connected purposes. We want to do something – with the help of information and other people. Often this means wanting to learn from and responding in a situation." -- Esko Kilpi, Network Design, April 15, 2012

Dave Gray pointed to this and it got tweeted around a fair bit this weekend:

4/18/2012: Telltale Signs of an Unhealthy Hierarchy, Ron Ashkenas, April 17, 2012


04/16/12The Matter of Change

Monkey Play

Netflix, dis(mis)sed by many, is making some very compelling moves to catch tech influencers where they live -- open sourcing their cloud monkeys! This is awesome. It is awesome as a strategy-through-technology example, and really taking Amazon's game to them! I LOVE it! Love, love, love it! Did I mention I love it?

Technology is the way out of the doldrums the economy has been in, and techno-charged strategies are blasting off.


More Monkey Business

Paper towels and incand... oh, I get it!

Can I play? Can I play? I'm tempted to reply "Dr. Strangelove, I presume" or more graphically:

or: How I learned to stop worrying and love...

No. I didn't tweet that. I feel kinda silly being a Feathers groupie. ;-) I follow him because he is a great technical resource, but I like his sense of humor and I respect him for pointing out, in the terminology I've been playing with, examples of betrayals of public trust. And given that orientation, I easily make the leap to the ways we're undoing the planet's ability to support us and giving in to the small pleasures that mass to ultimate destruction. [George Carlin comes to mind; language NSFW.]

just one riff (give a mouse a cookie style), thinking about Glass (and assuming a camera, but that's pretty defacto assumption now, given our other devices)Oh. I'm an "everyone groupie." I mean, shouldn't we delight in people, the way we delight in the stars and the ocean and... well, bees and flowers and iPads and stuff? (But Google flubbed projecting glass compellingly? Imagination, people. Like this.)

I'm also a Matthew Taylor groupie (well, I admire his writing and what he accomplishes with his blog), and found today's post provocative -- in a good way. Matthew's blog is a convening place for some great discussion.

I do think nudging out of habitual ruts has a place, as does becoming more aware of our cognitive biases so we can accomodate better for them, but the big idea I take away from the "nudge" movement is more about how very small interventions can shift the "flow" towards outcomes we want. My brain associated Matthew's points about learning cognitive tools and reflection with learning to avoid the "amygdala hijack" as mentioned in this article, which I highly recommend too. Anyway, Matthew's post and the comments fit well with the whole set of conversations around "how do we want to be" as individuals and communities -- including our work communities.

(Aside: Sure that's a roll of paper towels rather than the kind that is the alternative to hot air; it's just how I made it link visually to riding the bomb. D'oh. What's that? Oh, now you get it? Thanks a lot! Wink.)

5/2/12: Do paper towels count? This TED talk makes the case that they do (in the first minute, you'll find out how many millions of pounds of paper towels are used by Americans each year).

5/8/12: How scared should we be? This scared:

Or maybe not (must see!):

And the glass team needs to watch this TED talk:

Industry or Fraternity?

"Is this an industry or a fraternity? Evidence suggests that the problem is cultural, and it's not just women and older workers who are being excluded." -- Neil McAlister, The ugly underbelly of coder culture, April 12, 2012

Thanks Neil for being courageous enough to write that article!

I am grateful to have worked with ever so many wonderful people in this industry, and it is by no means universally hostile to women or to men over 40. But there is a harsh arrogant streak that runs through it, and that streak does tend to call attention to itself.

Tech-chismo has quite a strong machismo edge to it. But all that is to our field, what a fraternity is to a campus. It shouldn't define us! Yet it does get and shape attention. Put it in a movie like Social Network, and more so.

The harsh edge of tech-chismo treats enterprise-anything, for example, with scalding scorn. And that scorn permeates much of the tech community discussion and seeds itself in the youth culture of tech. And arrogance and scorn puts off gentle people who are very capable, but who just don't want to be vulnerable to that willingness to batter another person's sense of self. Much of this field is not at all about elitism, but those who deride and put down and act superior can skew the cast of the field -- can, and have.

4/19/12: Here's some of the neat stuff that is going on:

And while we need some activism to give women a more welcoming place in software (and architecture), we need to do more for boys! Perhaps it is important to have nerd-frats so there is a place for boys (those who need that)! But important too to have at least an equivalent image of software as a place where we do great people-and-design-centered collaborative (man, woman, girl and boy -friendly) team-oriented software development that does good in the world. That isn't about what we're using to build our systems but what good we're doing with the systems we build!

Peter Bakker pointed me to Margaret Hamilton and some of her work. Wonderful story, great work, amazing woman in tech -- thanks Peter! She was honored by NASA but not by wikipedia.

More of this, I think, would be good (way to go, UK!):

Putting such activism in perspective -- good for a giggle so we don't take ourselves too seriously but... I'm not altogether sure NPR should be making fun of feminism and the Miss Representation message...

There are facets of our field where there is encouragement to be snarky and negatively cutting, derisive and diminishing, because that is what is applauded and paid attention to. But we have a choice. We could choose to pay attention also to people who are even-handed, who think carefully and act courageously -- and it takes courage to just be nice in a space where so many jeer at that and pride themselves on being contentious and critical! Disregarding feelings and motives and alternative points of view may be important for some to do, to put alternative positions to us to keep us balanced and reflective. It is heroic to be kind and attentive and positive where that is treated as weak and incompetent.

5.2/12: Thanks also to Matt Gemmell for this post on misogyny in our field. It would be more helpful to point out that women exhibit confidence differently than men do, but overall the post is a useful awareness raiser. Many of the incidents and accidents that draw outrage seem outside our experience and easy to dismiss as extremes you'd get in any field, but the gender distribution in our field speaks to something deeply disturbing going on and its not that women aren't capable. We may choose not to engage in antagonistic, intimidatingingly dominance-oriented fields, and the more our field displays these traits, the more overt displays of sexism -- which we would all love to accept in grown-up good humor -- become beacons that attract and repel. Repel, I am concerned, many talented, caring empathetic men not just the talented women we want and need in our field. Because they speak to a tolerance for dominance, for belittling, for deriding and objectifying, for putting self over others.



Via Tom Graves: "People buy what reflects them." I like that insight. It makes thoughts tumble, but its late!.


04/17/12The Matter of Change

Power Under Threat

"Sustained economic growth requires innovation, and innovation cannot be decoupled from creative destruction, which replaces the old with the new in the economic realm and also destabilizes established power relations in politics." -- quoted in Innovate or Die, presumably from Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty

The internet, with its additional layer of relationship platforms like Facebook and Twitter, facilitates not just our existing personal interaction webs on digital strata but the creation of new, even flexibility composing and recomposing, interest-based webs that quickly move information around. We have created participation webs, from innovation and production to politics. It is changing the structure of workforces, of value creation and presentation, and this wave of creative destruction, in giving more options to individuals, is coming at entrenched interests protecting the political establishment and the routes to influencing and manipulating political power. Isn't that why we have attempts to lock down communication, copyright and patent? To quash this democratization of commerce where individuals have avenues to influence and participate in the production and consumption of everything from information to goods and services, including social and political services.

The UK Guardian's Battle for the Internet series gives more than a few indicators of what's going down, as those in power try to protect their position at the gates:

We have changed the cost of interactions, changed the structure of who dialogs with who and on what basis, because we have changed visibility into people's interests/passions and concern structure. We have fundamentally shifted the grounds on which we find and interact with people. The communities we identify most strongly with are no longer only local and parochial, or need not be, anyway. Innovation (first in mental models and ultimately products, services, organizational forms and more), comes from combining capabilities which, simplistically put, are things we know how to do into things that offer new kinds of value because they can be integrated into things people want to do or make of themselves. All along that chain, it is interactions and encounters with needs and know-how that turns the tides of innovation. This isn't just books giving us access to ideas across geographies and time, nor just diverse teams bringing different specialist knowledge and thinking-interacting styles together -- but this is all that, sped up -- and more!

All this is coming at a time where we're also looking at what siloed individualistic optimization thinking has achieved, and trust is pretty shaken by the evil done in the march of competition and chasing the massing of wealth and power. Companies that show neither compassion nor integrity in how they treat employees and customers, electorate and politicians who likewise eschew civic responsibility in favor of making education and care of those who need help a matter of personal judgment and the vicissitudes of availability of compassion and resources. And because we ourselves, we well-intentioned individuals who through the countless ways we make choices that suit us rather than the environment, are frail creatures attending to our local individual needs and desires and whims, the big hopelessness of the situation can have us just riding cowboy. And that is important too, because change happens at moments of openness. Uncertainty and caring can open us to change.

And so it goes. The structure of structure is morphing, sometimes snapping, sometimes flexing.

Here's a glimpse of just one aspect of the interwoven set of changes, that of our changing relationship with cars:

"Toyota had industry survey data showing that customers said they would pay up to 20% more for hybrid cars. Externally, there was skepticism whether this would be true, but internally, Toyota executives believed that there was a growing awareness about environmental challenges. In the end, Toyota took the emphasis off saving money and put it on saving the environment" -- Adam Richardson, Compete on Know-Why, Not Know-How

Here are some posts/articles/papers that prompt thinking in this area:



If Edward Gorey is right, and "anything that is art… is presumably about some certain thing, but is really always about something else" (via Maria Popova) then should we see our products as art? No. Just kidding. But so much (everything?) is like that (art more quintessentially so): my cup of coffee is about a heads-up break, a shot of caffeine, putting off lunch... Its value to me is established in how it is situated in a bigger cycle of work and sustenance of mind and body. Art is intentionally indirect and meant to be interpreted to gain larger significance. But if we flip our products around, and ask how they fit in to creating something of larger significance, don't we create better products?

An iPod doesn't mean "all my music on a highly portable device"; it means a music capsule unique to my mood and moment that I can envelope myself in wherever I am, whenever I want. And it is distinctively white, which means I'm cool like -- I paid more to be part of that cool-like club. Grin. Oh. I'm teasing. And not. The point is not just to back out to the larger system that the system we're designing-building is part of, but to back out to the larger meaning -- sure, some of that meaning will be emergent only with time as more comes into play to interact with what we are building.Empathy

4/19/12: Well, MIT is realizing we should integrate art and science. Steve Jobs sure put a ding in our dot of the universe! What's next? More recognition that social science is pivotal too. We need to put the heart back in our work. OMGoodness, its all connected. Like, who knew? Ah yes. System thinkers. Our time has come. Buahahahahahaha! ;-)

4/19/12: Lots of collaborations across disciplines have been opening up whole new sets of understandings. Daniel Stroe pointed me to a wonderful article about pioneering cognitive neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga. This struck me:

'Dr. Gazzaniga decided to call the left-brain narrating system “the interpreter.” The storyteller found the storyteller.

Emergent Properties

Knowing the breed well, he also understood its power. The interpreter creates the illusion of a meaningful script, as well as a coherent self. Working on the fly, it furiously reconstructs not only what happened but why, inserting motives here, intentions there — based on limited, sometimes flawed information.

One implication of this is a familiar staple of psychotherapy and literature: We are not who we think we are. We narrate our lives, shading every last detail, and even changing the script retrospectively, depending on the event, most of the time subconsciously.[...]

But another implication has to do with responsibility. [...]

Like generosity and pettiness, like love and suspiciousness, responsibility is what he calls a “strongly emergent” property — a property that, though derived from biological mechanisms, is fundamentally distinct and obeys different laws, as do ice and water.'

-- Benedict Carey, Decoding the Brain’s Cacophony, October 31, 2011

questions -- innovations greatest tool?This too:

“It only took me 25 years to ask the right question to figure it out,” Dr. Gazzaniga said."

This is a Renaissance age, because not only do we have tremendous deepening of single-discipline expertise enabled by all our houses of knowledge from books to academia, but all these collaborative cross-disciplinary efforts in industry, public service and academia, etc. are exploding our confined sense of ourselves and our social, socio-technical and biological systems, not to mention the cosmos more generally! Exploding, because we're asking new questions.

Questions are so important, aren't they? Yes, even rhetorical questions that are simply used to instigate and involve you. But I meant the architect's serving men. And more, questions like "what if?" and "what else?" And "why don't?"


04/18/12The Matter of Change


Heuristics are a cornerstone to design in a fast moving field.

So, what heuristics and principles do you draw on, and seed and champion in your teams? Tell, tell!

Also, who would you want to spend time working with and hearing from, on this topic? Who do you look to, as a key (re)source when it comes to heuristics for architecting systems (and enterprises, if you get uncomfortable bundling those in with other socio-technical systems with more determinate boundaries).

(Aside: I like Leo de Sousa's social guidelines, and I do try to give attribution, I really do. But sometimes by the time I read something, I've forgotten who pointed to it and it's like real work to figure that out. I know I do give a good deal more credit than most people, so you know the intention is sincere even if I slip up.)

4/19/12: Here are some that fit the soft skills dimension: Persuasion Principles Dave Straker

5/8/12: Guiding Principles, Randall Satchell. In that very well written, insightful post on Principles, Randall mentions the Principles page I created on the Bredemeyer site. I really ought to update that page... for example to include links to this post. Anyway, it sure was nice -- and frankly unusual -- of Randall to provide an outbound link from his post. As principles go, the Golden Rule is powerful, but for the self-interested, it might we worth drawing to consciousness that a field that is nourished with rich dialog and interaction is a more healthy field all will draw more from. Besides, linking to me is safe because you get diversity kudos without losing anything yourself, since only the most unusual of intrepid intellectually inclined explorers venture to read here. ;-) (That's an application of the Tom Sawyer Principle, and the Vulnerability Principle, and... ;-) Hey, I told you, heady stuff here.)


Books No More?

And a glimpse of the coming higher education disruption? Coursera (more on Coursera here)

4/12/12: And disruption in books: Duarte's Resonate is showing us what the book as app looks like!


Human Error

We're putting more and more responsibility into software (fly our planes, drive our cars, make trades, work factory floors and warehouses, steer hiring decisions,... schedule trains...), because humans are prone to error.

But humans write software.


Hm. Puts this in perspective:

Cause for pause. Design for structural integrity and technical sustainability factors.

As does design for value.

Time to realize that this software thing is all growed up and needs to be treated accordingly. As a discipline with discipline.

Oh. Right. That's where we live. It was just bad managers who put the screws on too tight. No!

Look, tight economies tighten screws. People act frightened; jobs are on the line. People who can handle being tough, get put upon to be tough. But technology is pulling us out of the doldrums.

Let's get on with doing right things righter. And then getting it still more right!

of course people will always be able to get jobs....


Ever more to think about:

4/21/12: The reason to be worried about dystopian futures is that strong dystopian threads will weave through whatever future we make unless we take stock and do things differently now. That is to say, we are creating a precipitous divide between people who are prepared to compete not just globally but with compute-intelligenced machines which will ever more leverage human knowledge and (sufficiently) human-like abilities to take on more and more jobs. Meritocracy is harsh when we don't pre-emptively and pro-actively give all children ways to be the great they can be.

This, from a piece of fiction (via Michael Feathers) is illustrative:

"And I see that you also have some technical experience. But this position requires more than just web-development skills. The problems we’re working on involve in-depth data analysis that require an extensive math and algorithms background." -- dan shipper, This Is 2016 Not 2012, April 21, 2012

The starting platform for a place in the modern economy is being raised, but we aren't getting nearly enough kids onto that platform. This should be of interest to the monied, because leaving a substantive portion of the global population out of economic opportunity means cutting the supply of consumers -- we might have a max on the number of people we can effectively be in relationship with, but we also have a max on how much we can spend. Sure, for the wealthy it is high, but still limited. Sounds like a Machiavellian reason to be liberal, but hey, whatever motivates resourcing early childhood health and education is worth articulating! ;-)

'“The third explanation for America’s current job creation problems flips the stagnation argument on its head, seeing not too little recent technological progress, but instead too much. We call this the ‘end of work’ argument, after Jeremy Rifkin’s 1995 book of the same title. In it, Rifkin laid out a bold and disturbing hypothesis, that ‘we are entering a new phase in world history – one in which fewer and fewer workers will be needed to produce the goods and services for the global population.’” But Rifkin was hardly the first to broach this scenario; it’s a situation that John Maynard Keynes wrote about as far back as 1930.'

-- Race Against The Machine And Ourselves, by The Philosophy Channel Editorial Staff, April 19 2012


’You haven’t quite answered a question Gregory,
Is it ... Who am I? or,
Who are I ... co-evolving a stochastic unknown? or,
Who is “I”?

-- Volodymyr Kunko-Bohoslavetz, Butterflies and Starfish (to Gregory Bateson) (H. liudens) 15.X.2005

We're all plugging in to the global-brain thing with increasing dedication...

The world's total CPU power? All of compute, plus all of our wetware plugged into it! So more than this!

4/25/12: Well, it appears someone else is thinking along the lines of not utopia or distopia: Can 'Hackstability' Save Civilization?, Adam Frank, npr blog, April 24, 2012

"Heraclitus was right: Life bubbles forth in a natural magic. We stand to be re-enchanted and may find our way beyond modernity to something very new." -- Stuart Kaufmann, The End Of A Physics Worldview: Heraclitus And The Watershed Of Life, August 6, 2011

Nurture Your Ecosystem

More etsy showing how to do things

Up Your Game

Picture it -- drawings on the walls --  and the windows too!Organizations are looking to ride technology out of the doldrums and we have just the thing for that! So, if you want to really ramp up your architectural design game, the next open workshop with me (yeah! wahoo!) is in Chicago in July. (Enroll before April 30 to take advantage of the early enrollment discount). Visual Architecting. Proudly design oriented. You should join us. Really.

Visual Architecting. Complex systems. Adaptability. All that business critical stuff of value, integrity and sustainability. Sustainability in all its senses, from economic (business sustainability through value delivery) to technical (scalable, adaptable, reliable, ...) to social (good to work on, not just starting out) to environmental (putting more value into the ecosystem than we take out, including taking care to net out our environmental footprint). You really should come. I mean, it is such a good opportunity for you to pay me to learn from you. Wait wait. For us all to learn together! I know a lot about stuff you know less about, and vice versa. It's a good deal to have me convene a place and great set of people where we can learn together. And if you're in The Netherlands, you get to do all that but with Dana Bredemeyer. Now you should realize that Dana holds me in very high regard. I'm not chopped liver. But he is awesome. Just thought I'd mention that. (Now, a few discerning people in this world would say I'm awesome too. But only a few. Perhaps you. But only if you are discerning and, like, really really smart and clued in to who is super-awesome-like. Wink. Which is to say, you'd have to be able to learn in a crucible convened by a woman introvert. Double strikes against me! Mischievous grin.)


Listen, Would You!

'The process starts with “Curiosity”, a desire to understand each others reasons behind their position: ”A common dynamic in conversations where opposing views exist is for both parties to argue harder, louder, or better in order to convince the other of the “rightness” of their respective positions. There is an alternative. Instead of hurling conclusions back and forth, stop and ask a question.'

-- Tom Howlett, Discussing the Undiscussable – Notes and Quotes, 4/18/2012

This video snip of Kevin Sharer is powerful -- you should listen to it! Hey, it's only 2:46 minutes. Read this for a teaser:

'The best advice I ever heard about listening—advice that significantly changed my own approach—came from Sam Palmisano,1 when he was talking to our leadership team. Someone asked him why his experience working in Japan was so important to his leadership development, and he said, “Because I learned to listen.” And I thought, “That’s pretty amazing.” He also said, “I learned to listen by having only one objective: comprehension. I was only trying to understand what the person was trying to convey to me. I wasn’t listening to critique or object or convince...'

-- Why I’m a listener: Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer, McKinsey Quarterly


04/19/12The Matter of Change

France -- Here We Come

In June we'll be working with a client we've worked with over the past decade in the US, elsewhere in Europe and also in Asia, but it is the first time we're working with them in France. We're really looking forward to it!


Knowledge Ecosystems and the Role of Social

The title of my post is a eureka level thing. Just wanted you to note that.

This, from the post that prompted that delicious brain flash:

For example, here are some of the challenges noted:

  • the Department’s principal asset is the knowledge held by individual employees
  • paper records are relatively easy to store, but hard to retrieve, share or pool
  • email is prevalent, but presents challenges regarding storage, retention, sharing and pooling beyond silos

The solution to these problems was a concerted effort to improve knowledge sharing. In 2003, the Department approved a Knowledge Leadership Strategy that set the following goals:

  • use of online communities to share knowledge across organizational and geographic boundaries
  • better ways to find and contribute knowledge
  • better ways to find and share experience and expertise with colleagues
  • use of technology that made knowledge-sharing simple to do, so that it became part of the everyday workflow
-- Enterprise 2.0 at the State Department

Ok. So putting it in terms of ecosystems is playful, but it is a useful lens. In particular, it interests us in mapping knowledge flows and interactions and the substrate that enables those flows. The stuff of KM, of course. But putting KM in an ecosystem context is useful, I'll warrant.


The Future Upon Us

And with all that knowledge captured, I see a Watson headed for the State Department, don't you? We're dead meat! Not that that should scare anyone -- your job is safe... So, hm, how about that ballet performance last night? Wasn't it awesome? Which? Oh, the IU Ballet students choreography and ballet evening at the Buskirk -- there's a repeat performance tonight. If I can figure out the kid logistics, I'll go again! No matter how much work impinges on my evening. What is life, if there's no relish in it?! Jacob Taylor's choreography was just amazing -- 3 guys. Really funny. I mean really! Hilarious. Physical comedy full of male energy, witty, playful, drawing on the physical skill of the dancers, their sense of timing, and just joyfully exuberant. Joy-releasing laughter filled the audience. Christopher Scrugg's piece was all women, dramatic and graceful and I loved it. Greg Tyndall's piece was Greg-playful and showcased Iver's gorgeous dancing (a very tall man totally defying gravity -- awesome!) and the guy-girl energy was fun. For a while yet, at least we have humans enjoying the beauty of the human body and what it is capable of expressing -- given many years of hard work getting to that point of sculpted form, honed technique, and amazing grace. Oh yeah, there's lots of loose hair and bare legs and torsos. I cannot imagine why ballet isn't hugely popular!! It is sensual, energetic and gives expression to music*. What's not to like?

Oh yeah. Last weekend we went to the IU modern dance program's choreography and dance performance and it was great too. That was a collaboration between IU student composers, musicians, choreographers and dancers -- really neat. A highlight for me was a red headed young woman playing the sax. She was great, and the combo so perfect, if I ever write fiction I'm so going to have a red-haired lady sax player in it!

We don't know (exactly) what the future holds, but we can be pretty sure it entails more compute-assisted human intelligence and more human-assisted compute intelligence. And computers running more and more of our world. Gulp. We tend to project in utopian or dystopian terms, but I imagine the future will have elements of both. But it'd be nice if the pursuit of beauty in human terms didn't get dimmed out in our pursuit for cheap quick-fix immersive electro-pop where everyone feels like a star without having to actually strive and work hard to achieve the exceptional -- the junk food of entertainment, you might say...

Oh, and in my version of sci-fi, these mechanical-creatures are bio-mechanical! Scary and awesome stuff ahead of us! Theme parks exploring the future that is partially present in today are a good idea -- sort of World's Fair-ish, but allowing people to enter into a sci-fi-like world just-beyond and ride around in it. (Oh yeah. Skyrim. Isn't this awesome? Think it will feature in a choreography next year?)

* Quite a range of music -- from Bach and Mozart to Leonard Cohen to Britney Spears! Things worked out so that I could go again, and again it was wonderful. But Iver wasn't there so Greg danced in his own choreography and was amazing!. I didn't mention the women yesterday and should have -- there are just so many superbly talented women in the IUBT program, but Michelle Meltzer, Alison Koroly and Elizabeth Martin are superb dancers and hold a special place since they teach in the precollege ballet program. The past two years I was the one traveling and Dana got to go to the choreography performances. So sorry he had to miss this year -- next year I have to remember to protect this week on both of our calendars!


To Fork or Not to Fork

Tony DaSilva's latest blog post on the perennial plague of platforms, poses a great question. I look forward to seeing your responses on his blog. :-)


Serendipity and The Internal Creativity Engine

"The brain is just an endless knot of connections. And a creative thought is simply ... a network that's connecting itself in a new way." -- Jonah Lehrer interviewed and review by npr, 'How Creativity Works': It's All In Your Imagination, March 19, 2012 (via Daniel Stroe)

See also: Imagine: How Creativity Works (also via Daniel Stroe)


Looks Promising

This from the overview of The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant When The World is Changing, by Saul Kaplan, on Amazon:

"The Business Model Innovation Factory provides innovators with a set of fifteen actionable principles to guide business model innovation efforts, including:

  • Realize that you are catalyzing something bigger than yourself
  • Build purposeful and flexible networks
  • Make systems-level thinking—and action—sexy
  • Be creative and engaged in designing the core models that drive businesses, institutions, industries, and cultures
  • Passion rules—exceed your own expectations and take risks with confidence
  • Be an inspiration accelerator and inspire many toward the end game: transformation

Sounds like a must for enterprise architects, doesn't it?


04/20/12The Matter of Change

Infrastructure and Ecosystems

I'm not (generally) picky about words. I mean, I want my prescription to be filled precisely, so there is a place for precision. But so much of communication is about interpretation anyway... Now, of course, you know that I am set up to deliver something that might seem to have a shade of criticism, but it is just to refine/clarify my own thoughts. :-)

"eBay is an ecosystem"

I think eBay (that is, within eBay there) is an ecosystem -- there are different scales of ecosystem, likes ponds are ecosystems within a larger ecosystems. But in the sense Hugh meant it, I think it would be more helpful to say eBay provides critical infrastructure for an ecosystem, or upon which an ecosystem thrives, or some such. That is, the ecosystem includes but goes beyond eBay extending to sellers and browser-buyers plus the insurance and payments part of the ecosystem, shipping, etc. For example, even though shipping is outside eBay, as I understand it anyway, it is within the ecosystem that eBay made possible around its auctions and marketplace. eBay enables the ecosystem, provides the firmament for the relationships in the ecosystem, connects entities in the ecosystem, hosts and enables the transactions between them, and so forth. And indeed, it is a very different kind of relationship firmament than that which Twitter provides.

Nice post on eBay, by the way. Very nice! I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!



04/22/12The Matter of Change

Tech Ticker


By Design


04/25/12The Matter of Change


Thank you to Stuart Boardman for mentioning our Fractal and Emergent paper and linking to the February page of my Trace in the resources section (slide 35) of his presentation at the Open Group session in Cannes this week.

If you are interested in ecosytems, I have a collection of links to my posts and other resources here.

Stuart's presentation deck is useful and thought provoking. Nice work.

Now I realize you think I'm just the girl next door and not worth advocating or encouraging. But do, um, you might like to reread Fractal and Emergent in the light of Real business architecture transforms business (Graham McLeod, April 2, 2010) and recall that Fractal and Emergent was written in 2010. Oh, let me hasten to add, I don't mean to diminish Graham's presentation deck, but only to point to the salience and importance of our paper. You might be just a little bit excited about what I do. Ok. Maybe not.

But you might be a little interested in what I'm up to with this ecosystem thread. A sense of anticipation. Hm? No? Oops.

Well, you're no fun. You could at least pretend! ;-)

PS. For a case study in sinister ecosystem manipulation, might we look to Monsanto? And I don't just mean the biological ecosystem. I mean the agri-business ecosystem, manipulating everything from politics to running out competition. If we think patents are bad in software, we ought to pay attention to the problem in seeds to see how bad things can really be. Scary stuff?


Tech Debt

This is a nice treatement:

Since I'm banging the Fractal and Emergent drum, you might want to take a look at the "with or without you" section and the treatment of debt there. You might especially like the tar baby image and the notion that we trade debt for opportunity: we "buy" the chance to pursue opportunity by incurring debt. But it is a tricky proposition that can lead us to debt overload if we act too rashly, pushing to load up on features without paying the price of structural integrity. It is a seductive concept, because it allows us to rationalize being sloppy when we need not be. Which is to say, we may think we are obliged to take on debt to accomplish our charter in tolerable market windows but debt creates inertial drag and besides we can be agile while keeping tech debt down.

When Michael tweeted:

welcome to 2009. Oh wait.  :-)

I was tempted to reply with a link to Dan Ariely's Are We in Control TED talk but Michael does not know me from a gnat.



I keep deciding I'm not going to write here because it is a worthless activity. And yet I fall back into the trap. Garr! Weak willed I am!

TTFN. ... and I really mean for now! ;-) (aka, back in a moment, no doubt.)

Continuous deployment... oh yeah....


04/26/12The Matter of Change


Oh hello. Yes. Back so soon. I just wanted to jot a couple of notes to self to come back to later:

  • when I read 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses (thanks to Ernest Buise), I thought it would be neat to do a riff on extraordinary community members ;-) (I was astonished to read in this article that arrogance is considered adaptive... well, I suppose it gives a dominance benefit, but arrogance puts others down so...)
  • the video here Case Study: The Nordstrom Innovation Lab (Eric Ries, October 25, 2011) is very much in line with what we advocate in our visual architecting approach
  • to me, what this photographer did is what an architect does -- see! Through all the clutter and mass of detail, see the significant. The dynamic and structurally significant moments. And be able to reveal those. I think that seeing the system (and its key mechanisms) and understanding how it works -- and doesn't, is what the architect is about. Writing code to keep up skills and maintain credibility is important, but the core job is shaping a system which has design and structural integrity -- designing and redesigning -- hence revealing the design of, and evolving the design...
  • emergence -- of mind! Tornadoes of Mind recalled to mind Hofstadter's theory (summarized in his front matter to the newer edition of geb)... It'd be of some interest to dig around in those two theories (and others) in light of the whole "global brain" thing and thinking about emergence of a mind of minds...
  • which brings me to The robot revolution is just beginning (David L. Chandler, April 24, 2012) -- robots can extend us -- magnify what we can accomplish -- physically (do my weeding and clean my house please). But we're also at "just the beginning" of compute enhanced mind work. Exciting times we've brought our kids into! SO long as we can get better at fostering a world that isn't ripped up by war and other products of our mean, parasitic, self-at-the-expense-of-others ways...
  • this post by Matthew Taylor demonstrates the power of visualization -- by counter-example. Matthew asks us to imagine a matrix, and describes it verbally and it is very hard to hold it all in mind when we know that just drawn out, we'd be able to grok it in a flash.
  • I expect I need to carve out the time to watch Architecting for Failure at the Presented by Michael Brunton-Spall on Apr 25, 2012
  • inventions that are novel, precipitate multiple inventions to be viable -- the invention itself, and the re-invention of the context of use, as well as the value stream (in this video it is put as the invention of the product and the invention of the market). In other words, until the ecosystem reshapes, the invention isn't complete. A phonograph was an important invention, but relied on (re)invention of much in the ecosystem it reshaped to be a viable invention of consequence. And so forth.

"In my case, working with Bob Kahn, what became the Internet was not possible until certain economic conditions were satisfied—equipment had to be affordable, certain kinds of technology had to be readily available. So some things get invented because it is suddenly possible to invent them." -- Vint Cerf, 8 Visionaries on How They Spot the Future, Joanna Pearlstein, April 24, 2012

This is great:

but if we fix this, we couldn't retort "oh this is just pollocks"


04/30/12The Matter of Change


Geert and Stefan make so much sense in this LinkedIn discussion of architects and architecture in Agile and Lean contexts, I'm going to quote them here (for highlight and retention):

'My answer has been to make sure doing architecture is working for a living. The freeloaders Cope mentions do exist, but the majority of software architects I have met would rather get traction and make a difference. And they work in structures that frustrate them. [...]

You tend to need architects, as opposed to architecture, when self-organization breaks down. The typical question that needs answering is "where shall we land this thing?" Or "which of these roughly equivalent options shall we pick?" And then everyone needs to get lined up behind the answer. It's not the least bit glamorous. It tends to be messy and as much about people as technical issues. Often it's architect as honest broker.

Architect as guru rarely works. The one situation I might recommend it is if you really need someone who is accountable for some system-level aspect of the outcome. This is a special case of self-organization failure. Make sure they have the authority to match.

I've used this pattern for system performance. And Rolls-Royce famously has to manage system weight in jet engine development. But if you can give the teams design rules instead, do that first.'


'My context is large systems with dozens of Agile teams working together. By design rules I mean the kind of "spend $300 to save 1lb" guidance Don Reinertsen advocates for distributed decision making. And stuff that is just hygiene, at the level of "in this system, we drive on the right". My point of view is that of someone responsible for the architecture of such a thing.'

-- Geert


"It seems there are many different - and even contradicting - descriptions of what an architect is or ought to be. The one being criticized by Jim appears to be one of an ivory tower decision-maker, disconnected from reality (both the problem domain as well as the developers team culture). While I can follow the argument, this seems to me more caricatural than real. (Or perhaps I have just been lucky enough never to have encountered such a situation in real life.)

On the other hand, I have been encountering many situations where the team lacked a shared vision, or where the project suffered because certain stakes weren't being taken care of (e.g., "technical debt"). I think that is where an architect can contribute significantly: Not by imposing his own vision/design/agenda, but by coordinating the (architectural) design effort, by tracking and highlighting trade-offs between long-term evolution and short-term workarounds, etc.. In this scenario an Architect is much more a curator and facilitator than a benevolent dictator.

In this picture, architecture as a discipline still is a team effort. Nonetheless, it requires coordination and guidance."

-- Stefan.

"Everyone has responsibility for system integrity" is a nice idea. But system integrity isn't undone on purpose! So much power flows to "getting (customer-visible) stuff done" that it takes a lot of credibility and organizational and interpersonal skill to ensure that attention is paid to investigating, designing for and ever improving system integrity and sustainability (not just "green" but in the sense of sustainable in terms of being able to continue to develop and adapt the system, instead of getting mired in inertia-building technical debt and other cases of decision debt). The architect pays attention to the system as a system. To its structure and dynamics. For more complex systems, this takes time and requires significant expertise and system perspective -- that comes of paying attention to system properties and investigating, (re)designing and improving the mechanisms that give rise to them.

Let's get on with recognizing that the organizations that have been building complex systems have learned some about how to do that, and while we're acknowledging that there is something to be learned from headliner "waterfall" failures, there is something to learn from Agile failures too!

We all want to be equal if we can't be the one who gets to be top dog. Yet we acknowledge we have significant problems in our organizations (and this world) that are systems problems -- problems exacerbated by self-seeking, parochial local optimizing that has a narrow and short frame of view.

System design to achieve more the outcomes intended (including structural integrity and desired system properties) especially in the context of evolutionary system development, continuous learning and adaptation, takes focus, work and expertise. It involves paying (just enough) attention to where the system is going, which is not something that typifies more local development.of a chunk of functionality. As for "where the system is going" and the "last responsible moment" kinds of notion... Jack Martin Leith tells us that he shared this insight with Stafford Beer:

"All action is premature until it's too late."

In the follow-up e-conversation, Stuart Boardman remarked:

"So being premature in order to avoid being too late..."

which I think needs to be dubbed the decision timing paradox. :-) (This xkcd is pertinent.)

Ultimately, formal stripes or no, the team determines whether they will allow the architect to lead. Much depends on the value the architect brings in terms of enabling the team to create a system that delivers value in a context of team "flow" -- aligned work of high caliber that delivers differentiating value to users and sustains the business. An effective architect is not taking all responsability and meaning from developers. Instead, she facilitates the creation of coherent meaningful value so that all achieve more as a result of astute, wise, effective system design leadership that creates the context for great participatory design and development by the team.


The Meaning of America

xkcd today is great!

The IU precollege ballet's performance of Swan Lake this past weekend was splendid -- really astonishingly beautiful! And the story of Swan Lake is so right for the times -- the prince not knowing the difference between true love of Odette and the sensational Odile, picks the shallow allure of the latter and in doing so condemns Odette. The lesson is poignant at this moment, where we know that we are building a world that is in danger of dividing a digitally enabled elite from those who don't have the background to compete with robots and other forms of compute-enhanced replacements to the workforce. Our choice of shallow self-interest over empathy is cause for pause.

Bread crumbs on the empathy trail:


You Need to Understand

I liked this post (stories being a tool of leadership, as well as system definition) and especially the way this is phrased:

"Listen for rhythm. You can't listen for stories in snapshots (i.e. one-time audits). You need to understand the order of events and how incidents are layered over time. People go through stages-- not just from awareness to intent, desire, and action; nor do they reliably visit, engage, share. They follow winding paths with firsts and lasts and several moments in between. David Armano often refers to the "rhythm" of a story akin to the soundtrack in a movie. Rhythm is another area where a taxonomy of stages and incidents can support your thorough qualitative scrutiny of the data." -- Kate Nieder, Listening for stories, storytelling's analytic stepsister, April 30, 2012


Ok, You Fire Me!

Oh. Right. You never hired me. Well, I fire myself again then!

I guess I just have to accommodate for the fact that I like talking to myself (at least in the sense of writing this Trace). Well. It was a fragmented day, so a little late night relief tickling thoughts into place here is... Incorrigible I am! Goodnight! :-)


I also write at:

- Bredemeyer Resources for  Architects

- Trace In the Sand Blog

- Follow ruthmalan on Twitter



Journal Archives

Journal Map

- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- Current


- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December


- January

- February

- March

- April

- May

- June

- July

- August

- September

- October

- November

- December


More Archives


February Posts





- Laws, Principles and Heuristics

- Listening at the Feet of Giants

- Alternatively


Strategy, Innovation, Ecosystems

- Porter Forward: Clusters

- Disruptive Innovation

- The Matter of Change


Enterprise Architecture

- Chapter Synposis

- What is EA, Again?



Software Architecture

- The No-No Rewrite

- Tech Fix/Fix Tech


Scanning Trends and Other

- Access Code

- Today's Beaker

- Damaging Stereotypes

- Betrayals of Public/Consumer Trust

- Beautiful

- Twittering Up



Chief Scientists

- Grady Booch

- Michael Feathers

- Martin Fowler

Enterprise Architects

- John Ayre

-Peter Bakker

- Stuart Boardman

- Todd Biske

- Adrian Campbell

- Louis Dietvorst

- Leo de Sousa

- Johan Den Haan

- Chris Eaton

- Roger Evernden

- Ondrej Galik

- John Gotze

- Tom Graves

- Melvin Greer

- Adrian Grigoriu

- Carl Haggerty

- Dion Hinchcliffe

- Paul Homan

- Brian Hopkins

- James Hooper

- Martin Howitt

- Kristian Hjort-Madsen

- Alan Inglis

- Janne J. Korhonen

- Nick Malik

- Alex Matthews

- Brenda Michelson


- Sethuraj Nair

- Doug Newdick

- Steve Nimmons

- Jim Parnitzke

- Chris Potts

- Randall Satchell

- Praba Siva

- Serge Thorn

- Bas van Gils

- Jaco Vermeulen

- Richard Veryard

- Mike Walker

- Tim Westbrock

Architects and Architecture

- Charlie Alfred

- "Doc" Andersen

- Tad Anderson

- Jason Baragry

- Simon Brown

- Peter Cripps

- Rob Daigneau

- Udi Dahan

- Tony DaSilva

- Matt Deacon

- Peter Eeles

- George Fairbanks

- Kevin Francis

- Sam Gentile

- Simon Guest

- Philip Hartman

- Todd Hoff (highly recommended)

- Gregor Hohpe

- Steve Jones

- Frank Kelly

- Kirk Knoernschild

- Philippe Kruchten

- Sjaak Laan

- Dave Linthicum

- Anna Liu

- Nick Malik

- Chirag Mehta

- JD Meier

- Kris Meukens

- Gabriel Morgan

- Robert Morschel

- Dan Pritchett

- Chris Potts

- Bob Rhubart

- Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz

- Carlos Serrano-Morales

- Shaji Sethu

- Leo Shuster

- Collin Smith

- Brian Sondergaard

- Michael Stahl

- Daniel Stroe

- Gavin Terrill

- Jack van Hoof

- Steve Vinoski

- Mike Walker

- Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

- Rodney Willis

- Eion Woods

- Brian Zimmer

Architect Professional Organizations




Software Visualization

- Adrian Kuhn

- Jennifer Marsman

Domain-Driven Design

- Dan Hayward

Agile and Lean

- Scott Ambler

- Alistair Cockburn


- hackerchickblog

- Johanna Rothman


Agile and Testing

- Elisabeth Hendrickson

- Elizabeth Keogh

Software Reuse

- Vijay Narayanan

Other Software Thought Leaders

- Jeff Atwood

- Scott Berkun

- CapGeminini's CTOblog

- John Daniels

- Brian Foote

- Joel Spolosky

CTOs and CIOs

- Rebecca Parsons

- Werner Vogels (Amazon)

CEOs (Tech)

- Jonathan Schwartz (Sun)

CEOs (Web 2.0)

- Don MacAskill (SmugMug)

Innovate/Tech Watch

- Barry Briggs

- Tim Brown (IDEO)

- BoingBoing

- Mary-Jo Foley's All About Microsoft

- Gizmodo

- Dion Hinchcliffe

- Oren Hurvitz

- Diego Rodriguez

- slashdot

- smoothspan

- The Tech Chronicles

- Wired's monkey_bites



- Marci Segal


Visual Thinking

- Amanda Lyons


Social Networking/Web 2.0+ Watch


- Mashable


Visual Thinking

- Dave Gray

- Dan Roam

- David Sibbet (The Grove)

- Scott McLoud


Leadership Skills

- Presentation Zen


Strategy, BI and Competitive Intelligence

- Freakonomics blog

- Tom Hawes

- Malcom Ryder


Um... and these
- Nick Carr

- Tom Peters


Green Thinking

- Sylvia Earle, TED

- CNN Money Business of Green videos

- Matter Network


- xkcd

- Buttercup Festival

- Dinosaur comics

- geek&poke

- phd comics

- a softer world

- Dilbert




I also write at:

- Resources for Software, System and Enterprise Architects

- Trace In the Sand Blog

- Follow ruthmalan on Twitter



- Strategy, Architecture and Agility: The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent, 2010 

- Innovation and Agile Architecting: Getting Past ‘But’: Finding Opportunity and Making It Happen, 2008


Feedback: I welcome input, discussion and feedback on any of the topics in this Trace in The Sand Journal, my blog, and the Resources for Architects website, or, for that matter, anything relevant to architects, architecting and architecture! I can be reached at

Restrictions on Use: If you wish to quote or paraphrase original work on this page, please properly acknowledge the source, with appropriate reference to this web page. If you wish to republish any of Ruth Malan's or Bredemeyer Consulting's work, in any medium, you must get written permission from the lead author. Also, any commercial use must be authorized in writing by Ruth Malan or Bredemeyer Consulting. Thank you.


- Links to tools and other resources



- Other Interests

- Introducing Archman

- Picture It presentation




a deer in the headlights sort of look is just perfect next to an expression of openness to feedback ;-)

Copyright © 2012 by Ruth Malan
Page Created: April 1, 2012
Last Modified: October 24, 2019