A Trace in the Sand

by Ruth Malan

 

 

 

 

Architects Architecting Architecture  

June 2014

6/1/14

What's a Trace?

My Trace is a playground for developing ideas, for exploring architecture and the role of architects. It is a journal of discovery, and traces my active reflection. I've been journaling "out loud" here for over eight years. To get a sense of the span, calibre and contribution of this body of work, there's a selection of traces linked here. When reading a trace in isolation, it may feel like you've been dropped into a thought fray unprepared for the action that is already in progress. It's okay. You're smart, and my Trace assumes that. You'll get your bearing quickly. Just give it a chance.

It is a journal. That is, it is an informal trace of wandering, exploration, discovery. The insights are there in their sparkling bucketfulls, but there are fewer clear onramps and offramps to and from them. ;-)

Sure. It may be difficult, textured, relying on emergence and recursive structures, poly-thematic, playing with delicate and intricate harmony sometimes, discordia others... So?

Shouldn't writing for smart people expect us to rise to the occassion of it? And this is an occassion! It is the writing of now, as it unfolds. It can feel unsteady, foggy. But in the clearings, how gorgeous it is! No?

No? Oh. Well. I try.

Sure. It responds to the discourse of our field, but also leads and shapes key conversations (in my own head, anyway; smiles). It connects, and weaves. It leads, inspires and enables. Not with a heavy handed didactic approach, but with more the approach of placing learning objects in a crucible of encounter, of thought and the mulching, compost adding/turning, seeding, watering, weeding, tending and attending, growing of wisdom. ;-)

That's not how you see it? Well. Hmpf. You can make it great, by expecting it to be! And encountering it so. It is not just what is in a work that makes it great, but what is brought to it, how it is interacted with, allowed to become.

Well. Last month I took on and totally like one that TDD thing. Yes. I one it. Did you think I was in the ring there? LOL.

I also pulled all the threads of the Conway's Law discussion together, showed how I, you know, have made contributions to this field.

Hey. Sometimes it is not the failure of design, but the failure of context. Consider the story of Sugarman. (Rodriguez) Yeah?

We are rational creatures. It just doesn't mean what we thought it meant. ;-)

Whaaaat does it mean, Ruth? We rationalize (albeit irrationally). We reason (unreasonably). It's a cool sort of deal we give ourselves. The appearance of rationality.

Oh yeah. Every paragraph. Gold. Gems. ... Crystals... Horrorscopes... ;-)

 

6/4/14: I'm going to try (again) to take a break from tracing out loud. If you want a sense of how bad(ass) this here Trace is, you could amuse yourself googling, for example,

  • technical debt site:ruthmalan.com
  • uncertainty site:ruthmalan.com

Or pick a month from the sidebar on the right. January and May are more representative. (February/March/April were heads-down.)

I hope your June is lovely!

(And. Pfft. No doubt I'll be back here way too soon. Never failed to be the case yet, right?)

6/12/14: Decided to put the trace back here, to get your feedback on the Architecting Workshop outline for the Software Architect Conference in London in October.

 

6/5/14

If Twitter Had Asked Me

I'd have asked for a faster horse, ... uh no... I'd have asked for less flaky DMs. But there is something nice about separating tweets from tweets+replies... It allows control over a "story", like this (read bottom up):

Oh, perhaps I do like this :-)

 

and

storified right in twitter :-)

Now if I could just insert pointers as relevant... I'd have Storify?? ;-) Along the lines of "We need to (be able to) Talk", there's (sigh) this:

For perspective, maybe we would just like to note:

(Do I like the new format? I do not like it, Sam I am.)

6/12/14: Looks like I backslid into commentary huh? Shoot. ;-)

But content too. Some people shape their image. Some people shape content. I like to focus on the latter. Unfortunately it doesn't get me very far with the former, despite our mythology...

6/5/14: Oh dear:

I think he wants to do a debate thing ;-)

I think that one is going to require commentary too. ;-)

 

6/12/14

Well... Duh... Huh?

Put this in your "naming is the hard problem in software development" stew:

Also on perception:

Interesting to put those alongside Lamarckism? How much do we build into the environment, the built world, but also culture (not just written and other forms of conveying knowledge)... And how much is internalized and passed on as "soft inheritance" or in social norms and mores and more (smile)?

And anyway, why are such concepts, and others like stigmergy, so interesting to me? When I so much see the world through the lens of system and software design, especially architectural design (strategically and structurally significant)? Well, because the more the environment provides the cues, the less we have to rely on overt and attention consuming (and unreliable) communication. It is that left hand (shape culture) right hand (make decisions) way of working Dana Bredemeyer talks about. But it is also about shaping the built world, the world of artefacts -- the infrastructure, the testing systems, ..., conventions, .... even checklists -- to bring about what we want to have happen. And paying very close attention, because most likely we got it wrong and we have to adapt the shaping environment to get more what we (the development community, the business, customers and others in the value network) want and need.

6/17/14: As naming goes, this is fun:

[I should spell check more often? You're right, I should. But when one neologizes as glibly as I do, it's more of a schlepp. Sawry. ;-)]

 

Naming Genius

Did you notice the name of Michael Feathers' company? "Research and Conveyance" -- isn't that genius?! And the twitter handle for his company? @r7krecon?!? Recon -- like reconnaissance but also Research and Conveyance. Couldn't you just smack him for thinking of it, it is that great?! :-) What? It works so perfectly, so many ways. Transformations of code/systems, people and organizations. And it's so much better than all the same-old: "coaching" and "consulting" and "training." When people say we do training, I wiggle and feel like I need to scratch something in irritation. I say we "inspire and enable." Or.. we provide a crucible for discovery, for drawing out and connecting -- distilling that dew of insight. The condensation on the glass of all the experience and knowledge we've poured into our magnificently capable, fallible-glorious minds. Isn't it amazing? We pour experience (ours, and others' through what we hear and see and read, building our capacity to imagine into and reason out) into our brains. And our hands/fingers (writing words and code, drawing sketches, building) and mouths become that glass upon which the dew forms, reflecting for others to see what is otherwise hidden within us. Sure, we can be aware of our thoughts and accomplish a fair amount in our heads, but it is in putting our thoughts out there, that we release them. So that we, and others, can work them, husband and grow them.

 

Visual Architecting

This motivates our approach (and underscores the insights and understanding that informed our approach) really well:

"groups with consistent problem understanding tended to produce higher utility values of ideas and displayed better decision convergence, but only if there was no group-level bias in collective problem understanding. Simulation results also indicated the importance of balance between selection-oriented (i.e., exploitative) and variation-oriented (i.e., explorative) behaviors in discussion to achieve quality final decisions"

Hiroki Sayama, Shelley D. Dionne, Francis J. Yammarino, Evolutionary perspectives on collective decision making, Nov 2013 (via

Visual Architecting

Visual Architecting Workshop

Here is the draft overview for a workshop I'm facilitating at the Software Architect Conference in London in October. Does this sound like something you'd want to attend:

Title: Architecting: It's (not) what you think

Abstract: We will spend time with the usual suspects -- (re)factoring, dependencies, naming, forces, trade-offs, mechanism design, system and component boundaries and interaction surfaces... And some sketchy ones -- making the system design visual and drawing people in. We will take some silver bullets* -- relationships of goodwill and commitment to objectivity -- to heart, and be playful, exploring (the interaction between) the various facets of architectural design:

  • strategic and structural significance: identifying strategic outcomes and defining challenges; design of system capabilities and system structure; system qualities and mechanism design;
  • decision scope: decisions at broader scopes (system, mechanism, service) and decisions at narrow or local scopes (units) considering intentionality and emergence;
  • timing of decisions: clearing the fog of uncertainty/putting ground under the feet and the "last responsible moment", iteration and evolution

And we will take our fallibilities, biases, foibles into account. How? That is indeed it. Our focus will be on how. We will use creating a draft (set of views of the) software architecture to situate our discussions and practice system thinking and modeling, strategic thinking (understanding what is shapingly important in the user context and business and technology space), and design improvement strategies. Our orientation is to co-creation of systems that have desired structural integrity properties, including resilience, but also design integrity and dynamic unity.

Our goal is to surface key matters of architectural judgment, drawing out myths and misconceptions, and sharing, positioning and connecting useful conceptions, strategies and techniques, and laws, principles, heuristics and other guidance.

Pre-requisites: The main prerequisite is to be open, playful and engaged. I facilitate moving through really vital shifts in perception and put useful tools in the architect's toolbelt, but we have to throw our lots in together, co-create together, playing when it is time to play -- to explore and get options on the table -- and, when it is time, getting serious and making strategically significant decisions the group coheres around.

About: Having worked in the software architecture field since the mid-90’s, Ruth Malan has arguably played a pioneering role, helping to define architectures and the process by which they are created and evolved, and helping to shape the role of the software, systems and enterprise architect. She and Dana Bredemeyer created the Visual Architecting Process which emphasizes: architecting for business agility, system integrity and economic, technical, organizational and environmental sustainability. Creating architectures that are good, right and successful, where:

  • good: technically sound;
  • right: meets stakeholders goals and fits context and purpose; and
  • successful: actually delivers strategic outcomes.

Translating business strategy into technical strategy and leading the implementation of that strategy. Applying guiding principles like:

  • extraordinary moment
  • minimalist architecture
  • connect-the-dots

So we can Be Agile and Create Options.

Blogs:

 

Well, what do you think? It'll be a scurry getting sufficient of the views drafted in just a day session, and much will have to be tabled for "homework"/follow-up reading for those who really want to drill into our approach. But... Awesomesauce... or... try again Rufus?

6/16/14: Thanks to Richard West for helping me improve this. I need to work on the first set of bullets... I was trying to indicate key tensions under the "arc" of architecture... Anyway, Richard is right, it makes it dense... and um... strained. ;-) And there is a quick switch from playful to compact...

 

6/14/14: And. They need a photo. Sigh. This one work?

my selfie

 

Or... this:

it's not what I look like, but what I see, right?

I'll have to see if they'll go for it. ;-) I mean, it is so much more about what I see than what I look like, right?

 

* Those "silver bullets" -- relationships of goodwill and commitment to objectivity -- need to be attributed to Dana Bredemeyer and they are a very significant insight.

6/22/14: Conference scoop of the millenium huh? ;-) First conference in Europe to reach out to me and pay travel (from the US). All this is thanks to the generosity of Robert Smallshire, who suggested Dana and me to the conference organizers. Are you following Robert? He does great work in architecture and design, agile and he's a Python guy so that says a lot right there. :-) It takes a generosity of spirit to suggest your "competitors" to conference organizers -- if you think in old styled dog-eat-dog-world terms. If you think in terms of "raising the tide" ecosystem expansion terms, you realize that all of us nurturing an appreciation for architecture and helping people get better at great system design, are building a growing base from which we all work. It is good for systems and their teams, but also good for all of us making a living working in this industry. And I think it is useful to think it is not about any one of us being totes uber-awesome -- mainly we consulting types are just the "bees" that spread the good ideas around (though we do have the experience and discernment to know which are the good, practical, valuable ones). Well, except me. Of course I'm totes uber-awesome and just you remember that. Just kidding. But I do have a unique perspective and that is what makes it exciting that a conference in Europe has made the effort to extend a welcome to me.

 

6/15/14

Happy Father's Day!

To Dana, the father of my children -- you are an awesome dad and generous partner in parenting and life. :-) You give us all such riches of being responded to, nurtured, invited to become.

From past Father's Days:

Happy Fathers' Day to everyone -- to fathers most especially! But also to all of us who get to spend this day appreciating the fathers in our life, thinking about what they mean and have meant to us.

 

From the Stream

Look, a keeper:

worth tossing in the scrap heap ... I mean scrapbook

 

 

6/17/14

Remind Me Never

Well, thanks to the torture of having to provide a headshot for the conference speaker blurb, more photos of me exist in this moment today than cumulatively over prior history! :-)

ruffly me

As self portraits go, that's about as well as I could do.... Sigh. It's funny but, though that is a photo of me, it doesn't really look like me... They could just use a picture of someone else!

But, you can see why I retweeted:

selfie inflicted wound? yep

That. Was painful.

Sigh. I know myself a lot better now. Not sure that's a good thing. ;-)

he so gets this, sniff

Well, at least I thought to wear the lovely glass flower Dana bought for me in Prague. That was comforting. And as bad as that ordeal was, it would only have been worse if someone else had the camera.

Now if they bounce that back to me as not good enough... I. Give. Up. Emotionally taxing that were; cruel camera!

You have to understand, I look like this:

what I really look like

Smiles.

Well, that's quite enough of that conference hoopla.

Remind me not to do that again.

You never did ask me for the story of that suitcase. Sigh.

6/19/14: Oh. Okay. This is more me:

that's more like it

Still 12. Yeah.

And this is still more me:

more me?

And this, because (my by-line is) what I see, defines me :

estimates -- anticipation

That was Dana Bredemeyer's (db) reaction when I sketched the noestimates "debate" for him, and I snatched it out of the conversational flow for its architectural significance. Yes, yes. He's amazing.

Ooooh, look what Richard West was able to do (with the same shot that's in my page footer)::

Ruth by West

I like that off-center composition, don't you? For me, I mean. ;-)

 

6/22/14

Some Classics in Software Engineering

 

 

Compute is a Force Multiplier

So well put:

"Computation is the use of existing information to derive new knowledge. Setting it up is the difference between doing work, and doing work that does work. The generative capacity, unique to computation, is a force multiplier that steeply empowers even the humblest concern." -- Dorian Taylor

...

Hm.

Add 3D printers and ... evolutionary creationism here we come!

Uh oh.

 

 

6/22/14

Workshop Description: Take Two

Another go, to fit the format used for the other workshops at the Software Architect Conference in London in mid October:

Title: Architecting: It's (not) what you think

Abstract:

The arc of software architecture encompasses various decisions and considerations, resolving important sets of interacting tensions. Among them:

  • strategic and structural significance: identifying strategic outcomes and defining challenges; design of system capabilities and system structure; system qualities and mechanism design;
  • decision scope: decisions at broader scopes (system, mechanism, service) and decisions at narrow or local scopes (units) considering intentionality and emergence;
  • timing of decisions: clearing the fog of uncertainty/putting ground under the feet and the "last responsible moment", iteration and evolution

In this workshop, we will spend time with the usual suspects -- (re)factoring, dependencies, naming, forces, trade-offs, mechanism design, system and component boundaries and interaction surfaces... And some sketchy ones -- making the system design visual and drawing people in. We will take some silver bullets -- relationships of goodwill and commitment to objectivity -- to heart, and be playful. And we will take our fallibilities, biases, foibles into account.

How? That is indeed it. Our focus will be on how. We will use creating a draft (set of views of the) software architecture to situate our discussions and practice system thinking and modeling, strategic thinking (understanding what is shapingly important in the user context and business and technology space), and design improvement strategies. Our orientation is to co-creation of systems that have desired structural integrity properties, including resilience, but also design integrity and dynamic unity.

Our goal is to surface key matters of architectural judgment, drawing out myths and misconceptions, and sharing, positioning and connecting useful conceptions, strategies and techniques, and laws, principles, heuristics and other guidance.

 

6/16/14: Thanks again to Richard West for his encouragement and help! And for turning the photo in the footer below into the much more interesting photo above. I like the framing, because my workshops are very much like that -- about me not being the central figure, but rather creating space where we all contribute to building the experience together.

 

I also write at:

- Bredemeyer Resources for  Architects

- Trace In the Sand Blog

 

 

 

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I also write at:

Papers:

- 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

- EA and Business Strategy: Enterprise Architecture as Strategic Differentiator, 2005

- The Role of the Architect:: What it Takes to be a Great Enterprise Architect, 2004

 

Ruth Malan has played a pioneering role in the software architecture field, helping to define architectures and the process by which they are created and evolved, and helping to shape the role of the software, systems and enterprise architect. She and Dana Bredemeyer created the Visual Architecting Process which emphasizes: architecting for agility, integrity and sustainability. Creating architectures that are good, right and successful, where good: technically sound; right: meets stakeholders goals and fits context and purpose; and successful: actually delivers strategic outcomes. Translating business strategy into technical strategy and leading the implementation of that strategy. Applying guiding principles like: the extraordinary moment principle; the minimalist architecture principle; and the connect the dots principle. Being agile. Creating options.

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. Thank you.

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a bit Ruf

Copyright © 2013 by Ruth Malan
http://www.ruthmalan.com
Page Created:July 1, 2013
Last Modified: August 1, 2014