journal contains notes I take as I explore what it takes to be a great
software, systems and enterprise architect.
I investigate and draw broadly from many fields to inform our own,
developing a rich canvas of concepts and a contextualized set of
techniques for architectural design and system evolution and all
the leading, influencing, selling, understanding, dialoging, imagining,
conceiving and what not that has to be done to create/evolve and lead
the development of architectures through the system lifespan.
So, what to do now?
We could ponder
architectural styles. Then we might seek to elaborate the design
themes that characterize systems of that style, identifying system
properties the design elements in that theme were designed to achieve. We
could look to building architecture styles as a source of learning by
analogy -- after all, that is where the concept of architectural style
emerged. And we could look at examples in other fields for lessons to bring home to ours. Analogies are powerful (so
long as we remember they are just that, analogies). Well, it is
interesting to see that the discussion moves in the direction I was
proposing back when...
We could. Although... I am(re)considering this too
Well, I don't want the last post from last month to be lost under the
weighty volume of words that mass in my trace,
so here it is:
On Friday evening we went to Reuben Gingrich's jazz percussion senior
recital. It was blow one's circuits, standing ovation awesomeness of mega
proportion! One of the things about great musicians that strikes me, is
the other great musicians they collect around them. The penultimate
piece was the full treatment by The Main Squeeze doing Ebeneezer --
When I watch ballet, I often "see" software (I mean running code). I
know that is weird, but because (the non-story variant of) ballet is a
visualization of music I also see in it the possibility of visualizing
running code and how lovely that would be! What we usually do in
visualization is display monitoring/measurement data (throughput,
timing, etc.) or an execution trace rendered in terms of a sequence, or
some such, diagram. Rather clinical for something as full of grace and
dramatic possibility as running code, don't you think? Oh, I don't
discount the value of clinical, I just think it'd be not just
illuminating/informing but delightful to see -- to make visual -- the
dance of code.
I mention that in this context because... when I see jazz musicians,
I often see (great) software teams. It is like if we go all the way to
the end of the engineering spectrum we get to software and all the way
to the other end through all the arts to the end of the spectrum we get
to jazz musicians and then we find it is not a linear spectrum but a
cylinder and right besides jazz is software! Ok, maybe not. But
it's a fun thought. It is interesting that so many in our field are
(jazz) musicians in their dreams and the lives of their alter-egos.
Musicians. Dancers. Writers. Artists. The stuff of
Uh. Well, that is what I see in flashes or moments. I don't spend my
entire thought life relating everything to software! Just... almost all
of it. ;-)
I use the Victorian (and Gothic, etc.) style in building architecture
as a source of analogy. It is a good illustration of how a style cleaves
the design space so that there are design choices that are clearly
consistent with the style and others that are clearly inconsistent.
Further, we can become entirely caught up in the properties related to
structural integrity (they are non-trivial and technically "sexy"), and the Victorian style reminds us that taste (even
fashion) and aesthetics (can) factor too. Some architects focus exclusively on structural integrity.
Others think great design is not just skin deep, and
not just a matter of the guts of the machine. The key is to understand
your business and the distinguishing value propositions of the system.
Is it utilitarian, or does it compete on delight? And how much does the
aspiration, on the one hand, and stress level, on the other hand, of the
development team factor? Because if they do, developer-oriented
properties of the code are important too. And. And. And.
very much to the whole open source, open data, open innovation, open
workspaces, etc. movement(s). That said, this slide from Dave Gray's
Connected Company presentation deck struck me:
A private workspace seems like a good idea too, because as you can
see/feel, when a person's brain is too open, one reacts to what one
doesn't like about the person, rather than to the more objective(ist)
end-products of their work.
5/3/11 I conclude I'm
not the only one who wants to "kick this journal habit" but needs something to
force the issue! :-) Well, I'll try to keep the flow to just a small leak
from the main Trace.
5/13/11: Um, apparently I decided to open the flood gates...
"As we all know
too well, plans don't always go according to plan,
especially when Old Man River is involved," board
member Lester Goodin said, according to the
transcript. "It has time after time fooled people
who weren't fools, people who merely miscalculated,
or failed to take into account its almost infinite
variables, or used inadequate models, or out-of-date
models, or mistaken assumptions." -- Levels still rising... CNN, May 1, 2011
Well, I think the "Cloud" should win the "no
Frank Gehry" award, don't you? I mean, that is such a "wow" concept!
The future is here!
cyborgs and all. I am in love with the future. There'll be
challenges a plenty. Increasing ethical challenges. Challenges as we
decide what humanity means and how to protect what we cherish. But there
is such opportunity everywhere!! Waves upon waves of creative
destruction are reshaping the world as we know it. Reshaping our
experience of what it is to be human.
By the way, that project, and many like it in Europe, ought to give
US industries pause. I see some big surprises in Silicon Valley's
future... objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear...
And those not spotted in the mirror -- are already out front?
5/3/11: I love Serendipity. Yesterday I used the "objects in the rear
view mirror" phrase, so my brain seized on this line, reading Alan Kay's
classic on predicting the future:
Another problem is that we don't
have a very good concept of the future itself. McLuhan's line--one of my
favorites--is, "We're driving faster and faster into the future, trying
to steer by using only the rear-view mirror."
"People think of data visualization
as output, and the insight that I think [Bloom has had] is that data
visualization will become a means of input and control...Being able to
manipulate data in real-time is an important shift. Data visualizations
would then become interfaces rather than reports."
think the weakest way to solve a problem is just to solve it; that's what they
teach in elementary school. In some math and science courses they often teach
you it's better to change the problem. I think it's much better to change the
context in which the problem is being stated. Some years ago, Marvin Minsky
said, "You don't understand something until you understand it more than one
way." I think that what we're going to have to learn is the notion that we have
to have multiple points of view.
At PARC we had a slogan:
"Point of view is worth 80 IQ points." It was based on a few things from the
past like how smart you had to be in Roman times to multiply two numbers
together; only geniuses did it. We haven't gotten any smarter, we've just
changed our representation system. We think better generally by inventing better
representations; that's something that we as computer scientists recognize as
one of the main things that we try to do.'
Dana and I were talking about the Paul Zeitz pill problem -- not
that he invented it, but he popularized it, and articulated the strategy of
adding information and visualizing to solve it. Anyway, it illustrates the point
that Alan Kay is making there about changing the context. Sometimes it just
takes a small shift, but there has to be a willingness to back out, to take a
broader vantage point, to take in a bigger view.
Eric Berlow's ☼TED
talk How Complexity Leads to
illuminates the point too:
This book should be required reading for architects charged with system concept
if you give a mouse a cookie. Why? It is a lovely emblematic
story about expanding the problem frame. If you want an iPod, you want
downloadable music, so iTunes...
Reading Alan Kay's classic
Predicting The Future
earlier today, it struck me that Kay has been one of our field's premier thought
leaders because he actively, acquisitively studied our field and beyond.
He has been, one might say, one of our field's foremost architect-philosophers,
among other things.
Architecture and philosophy? Well, in building architecture Greg Lynn has made
it a field of study, I gather. Greg Lynn?
"He teaches the course Architecture and
Philosophy: An Exploration of the Future. Greg Lynn's architectural work, which
is highly informed by his reading of philosophy, is prominent among contemporary
architecture for its biomorphic style. TIME magazine has named Greg Lynn one of
the top 100 innovators of the 21st century. He lives and works in Venice,
California." -- Greg
I find it interesting that at the cusp of architecture and philosophy we get an
exploration of the future -- pushing form beyond the bounds we think possible,
creating the future. Biomorphic... Well, the terms Theo Jansen uses may be ...um
the notion that ☼Strandbeests
can be printed on a 3D printer excites me no end. Where
printing is at already is phenomenal! The future is all around
us, we just have to learn to see it and open our minds to it!
Magnetic Fields: Find a central metaphor that's so good that everything
aligns to it. Design meetings are no longer necessary, it designs itself.
The metaphor should be crisp and fun. --
Alan Kay, Creative Think seminar, July 20, 1982
Grady Booch likened enterprise systems to a river.
Today I read, and I liked,
Dave Gray's telling of the Amazon story. Now I need
to reread or relisten to Grady's
RiverIEEE on architecture piece.
Grady Booch's latest on
architecture column is titled "Draw
Me a Picture" (#29). He mentioned some Ruth Malan (Mullin?) person
who has been working on characterizing the software visualization zoo.
Sounds familiar. Perhaps we know her? ;-) [I suppose I really
should get that
Separating Concerns in the Software Visualization Zoo slideset
completed and onto Slideshare...]
Grady's "wish-list" at the end is a
great characterization of what is needed in software visualization.
And the "draw me a picture" story at
the beginning is wonderful! It reminds me -- in 2006, Gerrit Muller
(creator of the awesome Gaudii site) and
his wife visited us, and she talked about using pictures in therapy
sessions in just the way Grady described. At the time, I thought it was
so wonderful that Gerrit had his wife's perspective on the social side
of architectural work. Of course, we ask the team to "draw pictures" of
the system in architecture consulting work, but what I learned then was
also to think about a picture of the social system. Now you might like
I do think, though, that
the following reflects on an unfortunate (mis)conception that runs deep in our field:
"Developers, for the most part, don't draw
diagrams because diagrams all too often don't offer any fundamental value that
advances essential work."
Quite often a diagram could help
tremendously as we think through how to address a piece of the system we're
coding. In math and in computer science, and other fields too, no doubt, we are
taught to think our solutions through in terms of the language we're
manipulating rather than visually. Yet even at the algorithm level, we often
find issues with our conceptualizations really quickly when we translate our
problem defining-solving medium into a visual one. We might see how boundary
condition assumptions we made were erroneous -- literally see them. Of course,
TDD encourages us to think in terms of "edge cases" too, but I'm saying that
pictures help us see them. And we see flaws
in causal logic, see imbalance, inconsistency,
patterns or missing relationships. Moreover, we can explore
options quickly. If
nothing else, when we sketch and model, we take a different point of view. (A
change in) perspective, or point of view, is "worth 80 IQ points" (Alan Kay,
But we simply don't have much
experience with this! Which is to say, our education and common practice ignores
it. Richard Feynman had a tremendous advantage over most of
us, and it was not in his genes but in his father! I put that playfully,
but there's a serious point to be made: starting from early childhood, his
father was grooming him to be a physicist, and when he was a boy, his father
would make things visual. For example:
'We would be reading, say, about
dinosaurs. It would be talking about the Tyrannosaurus rex and it would
say something like, "This dinosaur is twenty-five feet high and its head
is six feet across."
dad would stop reading and say, "Now, let's see what that means. That
would mean that if he stood in our front yard, he would be tall enough
to put his head through our window up here." (We were on the second
floor.) "But his head would be too wide to fit in the window."
Everything he read me he would translate as best he could into some
Now we could argue that we do
what visualizing we need to do in our mind's eye, moving from mental model to
code in one natural, quick step with no added interference from drawing the
thing out and then having to maintain two forms, the diagram/model and the code.
The need to do so arises when
drawing it out helps
us expand our own cognitive capacity by engaging the right brain and off-loading that mental picture onto
paper to increase how much we can relate and synthesize, or
we need to draw other minds
into the problem definition-solution process and engage them in helping us
develop the code
Alternately put, as (technical or organizational) complexity rises, the need
to invoke the power of pictures increases.
"Pictures," for example, assist us in reasoning about relationships and
interactions among abstractions, and developing theories and explaining how
mechanisms do or should work in our system. Anyway, while I think that diagrams, pictures, visual models (from informal
and sketchy to rigorous) are critical thinking, communicating, recording,
testing, improving, tools for architects, I think we do our field a disservice
by not providing more encouragement to add
visual thinking to the problem
defining-solving toolkit of developers.
It may be true that some people are less visual, but we have such hefty
visual equipment in our brains it is unfortunate not to train ourselves to bring
more of that equipment to bear in software engineering. Yes, we're dealing with
abstractions and manipulating abstractions in languages that these abstractions
are defined in terms of. Still, creating visual representations causes a shift
in our point of view, helps us take a new vantage point on the problem we're
addressing. We may not need to do this all the time, or even necessarily often.
But it helps us become more proactively reflective. We can say we'll TDD our way
to quality, but our tests are built within the cast of our assumptions.
Sometimes a shift in perspective helps us see how to reframe the problem so we
come up with a more simple solution, or see how our assumptions are themselves
In other words, we may not believe that diagrams advance essential work
simply because we haven't had much exposure to the power of modeling in any
medium other than code. Our visual faculties are very good at finding and
creating patterns, catching inconsistencies or gaps, etc. And our visual
faculties can be developed and advanced, adding to our cognitive options and
enabling us to leverage prior art and science offered in different media not
just code. Etc. Blah. Blah. Blah. (The
recourse of visual advocates, perhaps.)
few weeks ago I read this lovely
story that a Kent Beck tweet drew to my
A few days ago I watched this TED talk:
Today I saw Martin
Fowler's tweet and read his bliki post titled
Musing About Books.
[Martin notes that he started drafting the post on February 22.]
I've wanted an iPad 2 ever since, during a workshop break, an architect showed me how he's using FlipBoard. Between Flipboard and Dan Bricklin's NoteTaker
HD, those apps have to be
selling iPads like crazy -- making iPad the obvious choice for eBooks for me
(especially since I read mostly non-fiction). Now, I just need someone to
remember Mother's Day because mothers always put everyone else's needs first...
like music lessons and summer camps... Kids today are expensive! Sigh. ;-)
As organizations boogie to figure out how the reshaping landscape creates
opportunity and threat, and how to reshape their business models, enterprise
architects are positioned to play a significant role. This is all about
technology (and biotechnology and "smart world"/smart grid/smart business
and and and) together with new ways of working, connecting, being that are
reforming organizations. Yep, it's a good time to read that Art of Change paper (again, even). ;-)
????? Tick tick. :-)
Oh, right. Time to finish part II. Imperious
tone: I need a pig some encouragement here! What? You didn't
see Alice in Wonderland?
Indra Nooyi passed on a useful lesson she learned from her father: "Always assume
positive intent." Reframing is a powerful tool in problem solving and
human relations and assuming positive intent is a strategy for reframing in a
helpful way. So when you're inclined to be irritated at "fishing for
compliments," you might want to reframe that to "echolocation." Huh? You know,
bat pings into the silence that serve as a reality check on the value of the
Besides, while "thought-provoking" and "must read" are significant
encouragement to me, they're not so inflated as to send me into the stratosphere
of pride especially when you consider that they represent the full extent of
kindness extended toward that paper which is arguably a quite useful one.
Indeed, I wrote it to help frame the role of IT as we move into a new set
expectations around organizations, technology and architecture. In other words,
getting the word out about the paper should help you position your role as a
Part of effective leading up, is helping your management team see how to
support what you need to do, to help them reshape the landscape.
Part I (The
Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent) is setting the large
frame in general terms. Part II is about setting the specific frame, and leading
(To Lead is to See, to Frame, to Draw). Interested? Anyone? Helllooooo....
["Bat ping" is a lovely image that my good friend Daniel Stroe introduced me
to some years ago, and my magpie mind collected it for uses such as this.]
It has rained for weeks and
weeks, and today at last there was a break and we kayaked out on the very
flooded lake. It was fun to get out and explore lake inlets we can't usually
reach... until we came upon another family's heartbreak. We never
imagined the water would get this high!
This evening I read "the dam is holding" and "the dam is structurally sound and
performing as designed" -- which naturally made me think that being
out on the lake at 100% full and overflowing maybe wasn't the greatest idea. Uh,
does "structurally sound" (at higher than planned load -- look at the
house) mean just that in other fields, or does it really mean bravado and baited
breath for them too? ;-)
We went to a
Carrie Newcomer concert (raising funds for local green programs) tonight and it
was wonderful! Afterwards Sara told us that Carrie Newcomer has sometimes
been to her writers' circle and her writers' camps because she is friends with
Michelle and Melissa, who run the writers' circle/camps. That had me reflecting
on the value of community, so when I saw this tweet
resonated with me. I think we underestimate our ability to impact another
person, to make their life different with just a moment of kindness, a
thoughtful word of insight or encouragement.
I need to tell you
Carrie's "lilac bush" story, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. It's late.
Folk musicians like Carrie Newcomer (and Woody Guthrie and others in the folk
lineage) want to change the world, and do. Through music. It is a powerful
medium to make life joyful and meaningful. I'm happy that that is the genre to
which Ryan is drawn. And I'm happy that tomorrow is Sara's harp recital, and
we'll get to listen to The Main Squeeze (talented funk/jazz band with awesome
vocalist Corey Frye) playing in a bar downtown. (No, we don't hang out in bars.
We have a guest from The Netherlands and The Main Squeeze is that awesome!)
Life is good!
(Now why does that sound like a t-shirt?)
5/7/11 Carrie Newcomer reminds me that it is important to be fully,
unapologetically, joyfully HUMAN in this world that faced dehumanizing trends in
the "factory age" of mechanistic-scientific (self-)management and which could,
if we let it, become more dehumanized as robots and technology extensions create
an elite class of cyborgs and such. (Sorry, rushing the thought out; busy day. I
love where technology is going/what it enables. And I think we have some serious
ethical challenges ahead. And a great need for artists and philosophers to help
us sort out what we want humanity to mean!) I am reminded that my
journal is about what I value. An open mind. A mind open to joy and beauty and
appreciating all that is good and wonderful. And raising a small voice of
protest at what is not right in the world, and our world of
software and systems.
get discouraged about my place in this world, and people remind me in their own
way, in ways I don't anticipate, that it is a big world that has place for
people who passionately seek to understand and make some piece of it
better for others.
So, right on cue:
I've quoted this before, but way back ... in 2009... so it bears repeating:
"Keeping an open mind is a virtue, but not
so open that your brains fall out." -- James Oberg
5/8/11: Ah yes, the lilac bush story -- here is Carrie Newcomer's telling. Isn't it what we do, when we are our best selves?
What? Why, plant "lilac bushes" in other people's lives, of course! What
we plant in others, we may not see bear flower, but it will. And their flowering
will make the world better.
The lilac bush Sara and I planted a few years ago is massed in bloom right now.
We should plant another.
This is the longest I have ever lived in one place. Children root a family!
Main Squeeze was awesome. You can catch them along with the likes of Bela
Fleck at the Summer Camp
Festival in late May in Chilicothe, IL
Or something like that...The future is casting reflections on the present
and though we cannot tell distinctly just how it will unfold, we have a
shimmering tantalizing foretelling of what is to come. Consider Leafsnap*, and think of all the promise that
just that one app signifies.
Oh, sure, there's uncertainty. But do you see UPS pulling up to deliver books to
your door in 5 years time?
Well, anyway, I think it is a useful image to play with... and to think that
shadows in the future reflect menacingly or enticingly, depending on our
orientation, on the present. (The photo is dark but, at least on my screen, as I
shift where I view it from, it lightens 'til I can see more in the reflection.
The mapping to the point being made, being then my excuse for using the photo...) Which reminds me of Voltaire's "it
is said the present is pregnant with the future "
-- I do really like that! This too:
"The present is big with the future, the
future might be read in the past, the distant is expressed in the near." -- Leibniz's law of continuity
The present is incubating the future.
5/10/11: Sure there'll be surprises. (Think of the birth of your children,
and their continued unfolding!) Then again, just how much do we know about the
present? Which slips so quickly into a mostly irrecoverable, misunderstood past.
So that's not the point. The point is that there is a foreshadowing. We can make
educated guesses about the future, just as we have to make educated guesses
about the past -- and then test the theories we develop. Influencing the future
with what we do. Alan Kay said the best way to predict the future is to invent
it. Yes. To invent and build it, we imagine (some part of) it. And we start to
build, and we imagine more in response to what we find out. And so it goes. But
the "imagining" isn't happening in a vacuum. It is happening with the air thick
with possibility created in the past and present, in what we have come to know,
to understand, to expect .. and then to glimpse.We have opinions about the
future. The analysts think MSFT made a bad move with Skype. But Microsoft will put
resources and intentions behind making the future it hopes for unfold. Sure
there'll be upsets. Surprises. Some good. Some bad. But when I think of all that
Microsoft is forging with Surface, Kinect,
and now Skype (not just VoIP but a visual+voice-based social interaction
space/network), and ... social TV, ... and more, I think the future looks really
exciting. For the consumer and business user. And worrisome for Cisco
Videoconferencing, perhaps. Time will tell ... yes.... but inside the value
stream, actions will be what create the stories time tells. Reactions. Or
initiative taking, industry reshaping visionary actions. Can a behemoth like Microsoft,
with all its disjunction, come up with a conjunctive vision that pulls all
these, and more, pieces together? I see a wall we can "walk
into," kind of like the cupboard in Narnia so we can join others "in the
wall" (yes, for social game playing but also for meetings with our distributed
team or to be with our distributed family). A wall we can interact with the way
we interact with our iPhone, but wall-sized. Skype with a pico projector and a
dad serving in a distant place can "be" in the voice and life-sized visual
presence of his baby being born back home... with Kinect perhaps he can even cut
the umbilical cord by remote control! I see... ;-) We're so
gung-ho on the computer in our pocket, we can forget to ask "what else?" but our
time is laden with possibility.
Yes, we have opinions about the past too. Remember Edison's reaction to the fire? Different people see even the immediate past
differently. How we see the past, and how we see the future, has a lot to do
with what we make happen.
I live in the "real world" too. In my "real world," distinguishing
requirements aren't written fait accompli on walls simply needing a scribe, nor
on the feature list of a competitor's products. But they are pulled from the air
in that Gladwell sense. Imagination and precursors. Not one or the other. But both.
We have to see, to envision, what the present is pregnant with -- not entirely,
not completely, not perfectly. But enough to envision, to conceptualize. To
bring something new into the world and, hopefully, enhance lives and the
sustainability of our companies and not undo the ability of our planet to
sustain human life.
Blah blah rhetoric.
Rhetoric! That reminds me -- I've said that enthusiasm persuades. It is
infectious and flows like
magnetism. But I also find that it helps if it doesn't just come from an outside
source -- if it also comes from a credible and trusted person "on the inside."
On the inside? No, I'm not privy to what Microsoft is doing, but I do know
Microsoft is not daft! Distinguishing requirements aren't written fait accompli
on walls. Except in this case. Because in this case, it is as yet an imaginary
wall. Not without precedent. But not yet built. Well, not entirely.
Skype is its own kind of good. But I wouldn't discount that crazy wall idea. I want it.
So I'm selling it, rhetorically speaking. In all seriousness, I think the "interactive wall" would be great. I think
Microsoft can do it; they have the pieces and they have the genies. And I have
no idea whether they have any such notion. I do know that social networks have
value and Facebook has competitors chilled-to-the bone rattled with its
startlingly fast rise to de facto communication platform for a generation!
Google wants to increase their social platform with bonus-induced engineer-led
innovations and p2p "selling"/advocating starting with its employee-base.
But in a space where network density and users' investment in their
networking/social capital is a big sunk cost to swallow in order to switch, it
is hard to break in, let alone surpass. I can see why Microsoft would be keen to
buy a social network user base on that basis alone. Perhaps at any price.
"Good anticipation is not uninformed
guesswork. It is grounded on a solid understanding of higher-level patterns,
much like the way that capable meteorologists use movements of warm/cold fronts,
temperature, wind and high/low pressure systems to forecast the weather."
5/12/11: A friend pushed me to clarify my own thinking (I like that!):
a hurrah (Smart
move, Microsoft) on an investment company blog: "
Today, I tip my hat to an old rival, Microsoft. By acquiring Skype, Microsoft
becomes a much stronger player in mobile and the clear market leader in Internet
voice and video communications. More importantly, Microsoft gets a team, ably
lead by the exceptional Tony Bates, that can compete with anyone."
Yes, Microsoft could be buying the present with no eye to the future. But if
I was Microsoft I wouldn't just want to buy up dominant relationship platforms
du jour. I would also say "what hasn't been done?" Apple does that. Apple
takes what is, and applies that to what might be. And Apple at grand scale is
the next thing. I mean consider the sequence: iPod. iTouch. iPhone. iPad. And
next -- iWall? But will it be from Apple? Would it take anyone by surprise if
the next big deal in mobile was wall sized -- pico-style? Or the next interactive gestural
interface was as big as your large-screen TV? I think we all see it, but most
remain skeptical. Because possibility has to be built. And we're inclined to dismiss what
has not been built because inertia and disbelief is hard to overcome. We're
inclined to object that we don't know if it will be sexy enough for the tipping
point to be reached, and harder now that there is so much vested in the extant
competing social net form-factors. Like, could the value-delta possibly be big
enough? But I take Kennedy's horn and blast "Why not?" Indeed, why not. We could
all go to the moon. From our couch. Want me to write your project vision
statement? ; )
Several weeks ago, out walking with Ryan, we talked about projects he could
take on. I suggested the interactive wall. His reaction? He said "I don't see
the value proposition" (over an existing system with a large screen and a
mouse). Today's 13 year olds! So, I described some use modes and
use cases, and pretty soon he was caught up in generating more. But he didn't
start building it, and I want it, so I figure if I blab on excitedly about it
someone might get infected with it, or if they're already working on it they'd get a
buzz under their tail and hurry it along, and put it out there -- as a platform
we can build on, ok? Because I have some really cool apps I want to build for that app store!
5/13/11: Microsoft was 4th, behind big oil (Exxon and Chevron) and AT&T, in profit
last year. Much of that profit haul is ascribed to the 175 million copies of
Windows 7 it sold. The lesson: If you have a big hold on a market, you can mess
up pretty big and turn a nice profit from fixing it! ; ) Alternatively,
Microsoft is a vital force and it will be very interesting to see where all this
goes. Facebook and Apple are basking in media love-glow, giving the likes of
Microsoft and IBM the opportunity to forge a new world order hidden in plain
sight. If they can get their act together. Behemoths have the resources, a good
complement of genies (geniuses that can make product/commercial magic happen?)
and the pieces. There is a story about Boeing I should tell sometime... Remind
And if I complain about Twitter being
over capacity, they'll do something about that too, right? Right?
5/15/11: And if you don't believe me...
"I am here to tell you, that you are
stepping into a world that is riper, more pregnant with newness, new ideas, new
beats, new opportunities" -- Robert Krulwich
And Krulwich goes on to say:
"But there are some people,
who don’t wait.
I don’t know exactly what
going on inside them; but they have this… hunger. It’s almost like an ache.
Something inside you says I
can’t wait to be asked I just have to jump in and do it."
need to engage communities not as consumers but as producers.
saw how important communication is. Steve Jobs saw how important engagement is.
Yep: relationship platforms -- you read it here.
5/16/11: I agree with this -- except for the iWall and my iPad ok? ;-) I think there is
no simplistic answer, but we need to figure out how to let people make their own
choices about a "good life" and not impose our choices on them. But... we need
to figure out how consumptive materialists should net out their our excessive environmental footprint or some other approach that allows
variation in choice without making innocents like Nature and the Future suffer
the consequences. It puts a different spin on "everything you know is
wrong" -- in that view "everything we are accustomed to is wrong." Well, values
and lifestyles are adjusting. At the Indy zoo, everyone was asked to pledge "up
2, down 2" to cool less in summer and heat less in winter. It's not enough, but
its really doable and it is a clear and easy place to start. 5/17/11: And maybe not a screen/TV or projection but a banner? A flexible phone, eReader, ... wow! Recession/depression be gone!
Technology is riding us at a galumphing rate right into the future! ; )See also ☼stretchable
I do like the metaphor Tom Graves uses in Agility Needs a Backbone! It didn't go quite where I thought it would, but
that is the pleasure of reading someone else's thinking! Between Kris Meuken's points and Tom's metaphor, we have a great way to talk about
architecture and agility. Oh, right, there's also the allusion to U2's lyrics in my "with or without
you" reference in The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent. Paradox. Ambiguity.
Caveats. Integration. Synthesis. Even compromise. "And" rather than "or,"
sometimes. "Or," at others. Making tough choices, providing backbone in the
setting- and hold-the-course sense. Actually, there are a lot of
extremely important concepts in that Fractal and Emergent paper, including that of relationship platform. And a model of agility that draws out the
evolutionary/lifecycle and strategic context dependence of initiative and
responsiveness (or agility). The notion of fractal strategy allowing the
organization to be responding differently to different environmental forces in
different parts of the value network and different markets. And so on and on.
One might say it is a very important paper. One might. But it isn't becoming if
that one is me! But if not me, if not me, then who? (A riff on Carrie
Newcomer's "if not now, if not now, then when?")
I'm enjoying Billy Koen's presentation An Engineer's Quest for
Universal Method (thanks to a Tom Gilb tweet), though I think some reaction
will set in (in my head, pushing the boundaries of my thinking) once I have a
moment to mull it further. At any rate, it calls Eb Rechtin's books/heuristics
approach to mind, of course. I like the way Eb (Rechtin) framed heuristics and
their role in architecting.
This story is inspiring:
"Over two days beginning Monday, May 31,
1886, the railroad network in the southern United States was converted from a
five-foot gauge to one compatible with the slightly narrower gauge used in the
US North, now know as standard gauge." -- Arnold Rheinhold, slashdot
Looking for the "Everything You Know" post
to link to, I stumbled on this line:
We fit experience to expectation,
Isn't that a line to re-orient lives by? To see how often we do that, and then not do it! [What's that? The downward spiral of self-confirming negative
expectations. What did you expect? ;-) ]
When our kids were preschoolers, we took them to the annual "Fun Frolics"
traveling fair when it passed through town. Fairs in small towns bring out the
entire spectrum of the community -- snobs will put aside distaste for the
plebian while families in tight circumstances will do what they can to give
their kids a joyful whirl at the fair. Amidst all the fun, one very, very, very
hot and sunny day, I noticed a young mother carrying her newborn child
unprotected from the heat and sun. I said nothing, and to this day I feel so bad
for that baby and for my negligence in not finding a way to talk to the mother
about newborns and their lack of temperature regulation and that new-new skin so
unprotected in the mid-summer sun. We feel that we have no right to intrude on
other's lives. No right to educate unless asked. Except for our own children.
And journal readers.
Oh, dear! My son has expostulated that I am very hard to live with. My response?
"I know!" You too, huh?
But if not me, then who?
And if not you, and if not now... then?
'It's the same with even the
most virtuous qualities. Overuse any one of them and they become
destructive. Confidence untempered by humility turns into arrogance.
Tenacity without flexibility becomes rigidity. Courage without prudence
Above all, certainty kills curiosity, learning, and growth. True
confidence requires the willingness to give up the need to be right, the
courage to say "I'm not sure," even when the pressure for answers is
intense, and the hunger to forever learn and grow."
Unlike Schwartz's mother, I know how to do the "shades of grey" and
uncertainty thing -- to a fault. ;-)
I'm thinking about a different
way to characterize system properties so the three spectra caught my
eye, as did the tempering qualities.
Did you see today's? What perfect timing! It speaks to women in tech who, even
today, can feel invisible -- and it serves as a reminder that all of us
who work more in the servant leader style than the dominance/territorial style
can feel that way...
Besides, this frame works for everyone:
Scott Ambler tweeted "Do you
think or do you know. Huge difference between the two." I'm so tempted to
reply "or do you just think you know?" But I don't know Scott, so don't know if
he'd take that as criticism or take it in good humor... If it were me, I'd take
it as criticism, but that's because my internal voices are always giving me a
hard time. :-)
But it is meant in fun, and fun opens my brain to exploration. So:
Hm. Think. Know, know. Expect. Assume.
I assume Scott was thinking about a scenario -- you know, something like "do
you think your limiting condition is X or do you know it is X?" --
meaning "have you verified it (with domain experts or experimentally, etc.)?" So much lies in (context-dependent) assumptions. And perception. Which begs a list of resources on perception and
perceptual errors, doesn't it? Top of my list are Dan Ariely's TED talks,
just because decisions are the hard currency of architecture work. There's
also The Reason We Reason and other posts by Jonah Lehrer. This is a neat visualization. And this presentation (.pdf) by
Philippe Kruchten is great, and has wonderful pointers!
Which reminds me, I need to read Ariely's books!
Apparently in the second of those, we'll learn: "We
tend to over-value our own ideas and creations."
Oh. Does that mean
We fit experience to expectation,
isn't all that great after all?
Rats! And your neurons didn't just do an excited dance at "decisions are the
hard currency of architecture work"? Double rats! (But come on, the word play,
the pithy characterization... No? Not even when pithy isn't exactly the word I
first bring to mind? Towering rats!)
O, yeah. I read that
the book's title broadcasts: there's an upside to irrationality too. Dan
shows how these same irrational forces are also the exact traits that make
us wonderfully human. They are what allow us to: find meaning from our work,
trust others, adapt to changing circumstances, love our creations and ideas,
care about others, and enjoy our imperfectly perfect lives." -- Deb, Amazon review
Somehow... that didn't cheer me up.
Where's the part about finding meaning in another's work? Appreciating their creations? And their humanity? Huh? Oh, right, I'll have to
read the book! Well, I've appreciated the empathy-lending humanity and insights
in Dan's TED talks, and I'm quite ready to "fall in love with the mind of the
man" reading his books. Just as soon as...
O, yeah.. it's late evening/school night/I still have to cook dinner... Ooops.
lives... makes us wonderfully human... Hm. Cyborgs are looking better,
aren't they? Or robots that grow human brain cells... Will I be able to clone
myself to cook dinner and keep my household organized, do you think? And if I
could, would I? How far will we go? (I wish I could tell you about a character
in a story Sara is writing! The child is 11. Can you imagine what the
future will be like, given our children? We're hosed!)
By collaborating with
other minds, we afford ourselves the chance to do something wonderful, less
limited and limiting.
5/11/11: I just read
this, and it so much better articulates the thoughts that tumbled in response to
the difference (or not) between think and know:
"The world in which we live is the world that we build out
of our perceptions, and it is our structure that enables us to have these
perceptions. So, our world is the world that we have knowledge of. If the
reality that we perceive depends on our structure — which is individual —, there
are as many realities as perceiving people. This explains why the so-called
purely objective knowledge is impossible: the observer is not apart from the
phenomena he or she observes. Since we are determined by the way the parts of
which we are made interconnet and work together (that is, by our structure), the
environment can only trigger in our organisms the alterations that are
determined in the structure of these organisms. A cat can only perceive the
world and interact with it by means of its feline structure, not with a
configuration that is does not have, as for instance the human structure. By the
same token, we humans cannot see the world the same way as a cat does.
Thus, we do not have adequate arguments to affirm the
reality of this objectivity which we use to be so proud of. In Maturana’s
viewpoint, when someone says that he or she is objective, it means that he or
she has access to a privileged worldview, and that this privilege in some way
enables he or she to exercise an authority that takes for granted the obedience
of everybody else who is not objective. This is one of the basis of the
so-called logical reasoning.
This is the final result of our alleged objectivity: a
fragmented and restricted worldview. It is from this position that we think of
ourselves as authorized to judge everybody who does not agree with us, and
condemn them as "non-objective" and "intuitive" people. In other words,
departing from a fragmented and limited viewpoint, we think that is possible to
arrive to the truth and show it to our peers — a truth that we imagine that is
the same for everybody. "
you just love my photo of the big pout? (Yes, it's from a few years ago.) I've thought of an alternate career where I put that on
cards and posters and sell it to women who have a message they want to get
across, and sell it to men who want to say "oops, I'm sorry." I mean, just think
of the market size for that! Uh, oh. "Oops, I'm sorry"! Touchy, touchy! No, it
was not posed. Serendipity is the artist there. But I could construct one with a
boy in a pout... Of course, the baboon could go either way. Theoretically. Oops,
I'm sorry! ;-)
experience has lead me to understand that although there are many similarities
in the way we each view Real Data & Experience there are subtle
differences in the ladders of inference we traverse." -- Gene
Bellinger, Ladder of
Inference (from Argyris)
"He’s now a self-directed learner, an
advocate of mentorships and in-the-field practice. Carlos loved Dale’s mission
behind UnCollege, and decided to join him in leading this movement to promote
self-education, humble lifelong learning, and customization of one’s own path."
-- Carlos Miceli
I enjoyed Martin Fowler's post on the "three
pillars" of values that are the core of ThoughtWorks' identity. Because I'm
working on system properties, my magpie mind happily seized on this:
"Each pillar has its own definition of
success and for the company to be successful it has to balance the aims of all
three pillars. While the pillars are not fundamentally in conflict, they are
often in tension - which is where the balancing comes in."
I also found it interesting to the point of jaw-dropping that:
we often refer to the pillars through numbers (which we used before we
came up with the names): Sustainable Business is pillar 1, Software
Excellence is pillar 2 and Social Justice is pillar 3."
The highlight is mine.
At any rate, it is a great post on the value and purpose of the "identity"
facet of strategy. I wish more companies were as clear that "social justice" and
"professional/software excellence" need to be weighed, to factor prominently and
cause tough choices, in the pursuit of "business sustainability." These values
(which determine the properties of the business as perceived internally and
externally) create a strong "point of view" or "frame of reference" or "moral
fiber" or "backbone" to the business because they become the touchpoint for
weighing tough decisions, and they factor implicitly and explicitly in a huge
variety of choices from what business to engage in to choices made deep in the
depths of system code. They even drive opt in versus opt out employment choices,
attracting many but also putting off some.
Of course, you know my mantra --
sustainability always needs to be seen in multifaceted terms. That is
sustainable in every sense of the word from technically to economically and
environmentally to morally and personally. Which pretty much maps to the three
pillars! ;-) Sustainability says that we have to balance short term and long
term, giving due recognition to the need to thrive in the short term to reach
the long term. But not undue recognition. Thriving in the short term should not
be greedy, corrupt or malicious and undo the long term. It means finding the way
to be socially responsible within the company, society and the environment while
bringing in the resources that keep the company, with its important, dearly held
values, in vital business.
"We take our Software Excellence pillar a
step further in that not just do we want to be excellent in delivering software,
we also want to improve the software industry as a whole. This is why so many
ThoughtWorkers talk and write publicly about how we do things and what we've
2: Most consulting
companies do not talk about their work publicly other than for marketing
purposes. The commercial calculation runs that it costs significant money in
lost billing for people to do public facing work such as articles and
conferences. Also it's foolish to share key techniques with competitors or
potential clients who could then use these techniques without the consultancy. "
Cute idea, but I'm not buying it. ;-) Talking about what ThoughtWorks does is marketing -- more, but no less! Yes sure, it has a broader do-good
impact. But it is marketing to a technical customer base in terms they care
about. When I was doing the Fusion thing at HP, I motivated a Fusion website
hosted on the public HP site at a time when even a corporate website was still
rare. On what basis? I argued that in order for HP development teams to use
Fusion, it had to be, and be seen as being, the best JEM out there. (JEM?
Just Enough Method.) Our goal was to radically improve internal development
productivity (in value terms, including innovativeness). And I argued
(apparently persuasively because I got the resources I requested for an unlikely
thought-leading "marketing" stint run out of HP Labs, no less) that we had to be
recognized outside HP for internal teams to advocate working with us as co-creators
of and as a hotbed/test-bed for Team
Fusion. What I (and others alongside me) saw in the internet was a vehicle for
trust relationships, building credibility through openly sharing useful work.
The Bredemeyer website is a direct extension of that orientation, and so strong
was my belief in freely sharing that I'm afraid the book has taken the back seat
to free and open sharing of our work via our websites. Let's face it, it is
marketing, just in clothing we nerds are comfortable with! (I used Werner Vogels
as a case in point in Getting Past ‘But’: Finding Opportunity and Making It Happen.
What, you haven't read it yet? Our paper on agile architecting from 2008 -- where have you been? ;-)
This just in from an "alum"
who took our Software Architecture Workshop a decade ago, and referring also to
his colleague who took our workshop a few years ago:
"We both agree that it was the best
architecture course we've taken."
We don't do any traditional marketing and sales, relying only on
word-of-mouth/alumni bringing us back to work with them as they progress through
their careers and our websites doing that "lead the thought leaders" thing. We
don't even self-promote our work, even to the point of not retweeting
compliments out of discomfort with self-promotion. Oh sure, I "speak freely"
here because I know that people don't read here. How do I know? I pay (some)
attention to my site stats. Enough to know that many people return here, even
daily -- but I can't imagine anyone reading even a fraction of the words I pour
into this Trace. [And if there is one thing you'll agree with me on, it's that
when it comes to imagination, I outclass most everyone! ;-) Imagination, in this
context, being a euphemism for...quixotic ... which is a euphemism for ...] Anyway, I'm
really bad at getting word out about classes because I can't stand salesy stuff.
My orientation is to pull, not push. So even Twitter is hard for me, because
although a handful of people have opted to follow me I can't imagine they want
me to push very much at all their way -- and certainly no self-promotion! (I
consider following me on Twitter to be a gentlemanly reciprocal gesture, not an
invitation to push tweets at them.) But... just in case you want (your colleagues) to take a
Software Architecture Workshop with Dana Bredemeyer here's what's on the
Oh, while I'm not selling what we do... another Bredemeyer alumn told me
yesterday that he has looked at all the training out there and is advocating our
workshop for his team because "the approach we take is what is needed." Sure we
fill up the architect's "tool belt" with actionable templates and organizing
models and such, but what is so important is we manage to convey "how to think
about and approach architecture." The (largely conceptual) tools are
important because they guide actions we can take and
experience their effectiveness. But it is the heuristics, the way of thinking,
that is paramount and Dana conveys them especially well.
Uh, don't know about Cope, but, yeah, that's it, that's my approach -- every time you think I'm being an
idiot/crazy/wrong, just assume that I don't mean what I'm saying, I'm only
trying to provoke you to discover what you really think (or know ...or think you
know ...or think you might need to rethink). Yep, to do that educo thing. And if you buy that, I'm selling a bridge. We call it a Software Architecture
Workshop. It's your bridge to the future you. Ooooh cool. I can do sales after all. Uh... Subversive, self-destructive
sales... Rats! I'm gonna have to crash this Trace! ;-) [You do realize, don't you, that
every time I write something like that, I shake off those who have no tolerance
for ... humility... uncertainty... ambiguity ...self-(d)efacing satire... Which
is the plan, of course. Yeah, that's it.] Sales? Not relevant to you? Oh dear. I kind of feel like a mother needing to
break it to you that... you don't come from Boston. Ok.
It's like this. When you were picking a career, you weren't entirely sure what
you wanted to do, but you were very, very clear that you didn't want to do
sales. Right? Am I right? Hm? Yeah. And now, let's face it, what do you spend
most of your time doing? Advocating, explaining the value of, positioning,
persuading, ... Yup, selling! I only mean half of what I say. The other half is just a joke. On me. ; )I told someone I joke when I'm bashful.
Bashful? You know, like this:
Bashful is the shyest of the
dwarfs, and is therefore often embarrassed by the presence of any attention
directed at him. He frequently annoys Grumpy, though not as much as Doc. -- sneezy.askdefine.com/
Image: By Sara.
* I really don't mean to tease anyone but myself. I respect
anyone who goes after popularist polar positions and asks people to think more
systemically. I wasn't there, but reading between the lines I gather that was
what Jim Coplien was doing. I don't always agree with Cope, but I much value
that he pushes me to clarify my own thinking when I bump up against points he
makes that intrigue and disturb me (often in a good way, but not always; it is a
plural world, with lots of different experiences and perspectives. It would be a
real shame on me and on Cope if we always agreed.)
'My first mantra came from my father. Early
in my work life, he gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received.
"Remember," he told me, "if you accept the blame when you deserve it, you'll get
responsibility."" -- Gretchen Rubin, Enjoy the Fun of Failure, May 11, 2011 "Take
responsibility for failure. If a job’s going wrong take responsibility. It feels
counter-intuitive, but responsibility means you can do something about it." -- Jamie Wieck, #the50
I thought this was a good example of taking responsibility:
Sigh. I should have read it when Dana brought Humberto Maturama's work to my attention! Reading Autopoeisis, Culture, and
Society by Humberto Mariotti (thanks to a David Holzmer), I am so struck by how important it is to
architects and our conception of architecture especially in the context of
responsive, adaptive, evolutionary systems (both in dynamic and systems
development/evolution terms). To give you a taste:
"Thus, organization determines the identity of a system,
whereas structure determines how its parts are physically articulated.
Organization identifies a system and corresponds to its general configuration.
Structure shows the way parts interconnect. The moment in which a system loses
its organization corresponds to the limit of its tolerance to structural
The fact that living systems are submitted to structural
determinism does not mean that they are foreseeable. In other words, they are
determined but this does not mean that they are predetermined. As a matter of
fact, since their structure changes all the time — and in congruence with the
aleatory modifications of the environment —, it is not adequate to speak about
predetermination. We should rather speak about circularity. In order to avoid
any doubts about this issue, we would better bear in mind this detail: what
happens to a system in a given moment depends on its structure in this very
"Vision is our most dominant
sense. It takes up 50% of our brain’s resources. And despite the visual nature
of text, pictures are actually a superior and more efficient delivery mechanism
for information. In neurology, this is called the ‘pictorial superiority effect’
[...] If I present information to you orally, you’ll probably only remember
about 10% 72 hours after exposure, but if I add a picture, recall soars to 65%.
So we are hard-wired to find visualization more compelling than a spreadsheet, a
speech of a memo." -- Alex Lundry
Actually, Florence Nightingale is acknowledged as being the one who first
recognized, invented, and established precedent for the use of data
visualization as a rhetorical device.
"Confidence untempered by humility turns into arrogance.
Tenacity without flexibility becomes rigidity. Courage without prudence
is recklessness." -- Tony Schwartz, Let Us Now Praise Uncertainty, May 9, 2011
"In any software development
project, the major driving forces are functionality, cost, capacity,
availability, performance, technological churn, fault tolerance,
throughput, resilience, and compatibility." -- Software Architecture Designing by Shriv Commedia
"While the pillars are not
fundamentally in conflict, they are often in tension - which is where
the balancing comes in." -- Martin Fowler
"Successful: they have resolved all
the tensions that arise in achieving great fit to context and fit to
purpose, across the contexts and the purposes demanded of the system." -- moi, 5/7/08
5/11/11 Oops I plunked much of the May Trace back into this
view and yes... it is sadly loooong... But. No worries. I have
procrastinated long enough that I have run out of incubate time on some
commitments so if I don't leave less Trace in the coming weeks heckle me
about it, ok?! :) If you can't encourage me to write here, perhaps
you can encourage me not to? What? You thought you'd done that? Oh.
In every realm of human endeavor that is touched by "progress" not just in
technology but what we can accomplish, the floor of our expectation rises ever higher. We undertake to
accomplish ever more ambitious, more difficult, more complex initiatives.
There is, for example, a rumbling of unease in the area of organizational design
that is dislodging the foothold of Taylorism and threatening a shake-down of
mechanistic structures with hierarchical power-trees. One might argue though,
that this is because our expectations have shifted in concert with the
maturation of a platform on which a more organic -- but with more complex
relationships -- organization is viable.
I see that, and ask, Cobbler Cobbler... Seriously, this would be so neat to see across agile
iterations, and across releases. Oh, and add annotations. Well, we know
that, but the annotations in the
article made me feel like the diagrams were being explained to me -- their in situ
nature made it feel more like someone was present, explaining key points to
me. So, they really help tell the story (when you're not there to tell
it). Yup. Words and images. But... the system's past is not relevant? We have to start to think
that architecture -- structural design and the interaction with capability
design -- is an ongoing matter of self-education and field study. This isn't
academic. Well of course it is. But not only. It is not enough that we have
a growing body of knowledge reflected in design and architectural patterns.
Every system has its own nature, and just as it is important to be
reflective and introspective about ourselves, we need to be so with our
systems -- lavishing them with Socratic attention and investigative tools.
Drawing them out, as it were, to understand them. What they are today.
And what made them so. What shaped their becoming. And why that does and
doesn't work, given today's forces as they foreshadow what we'll face
Aside: My clipped writing style drives copy editors nuts. But I think
punctuation is a tool to be used conventionally and not. Mostly not. ; )
One of the first programming experiences I recall is getting a homework
assignment back with a dinged grade because I hadn't broken my program into
subroutines. (Program? Subroutines? How that dates me!!) I'd figured out an
algorithm apparently no-one else had and my program easily fit on one page. I
saw no reason to -- hell, I thought it stupid to -- break it up. The teaching
assistant invoked the modularity rule and lopped down my grade. I blew into the
profs office full of all the superiority youth musters. Impressed, he gave me
full credit -- and started to call on me in class. Which I hated, being a shy
country girl. I learned something about unintended consequences... But I still
Please take me to the Chocolate Moose.
I really don't have the bandwidth.
Sara: You have
lots of bandwidth. It's just all filled up.
More Sara: "It always helps to be cute!"
Now how did she learn a thing like that? Well, she
didn't get any ice-cream from me that way.
Yet. Maybe after dinner.
Last night we grabbed Chinese takeouts (I've never claimed I was perfect) and I took Sara, her friend, our
guest from Holland and our dog to a park for a picnic so the girls could wade in the stream, cooling their feet and gathering ☼geodes♫.
It's an Indiana thang.
here we throw geodes in our gardens. They're as common as the
rain or corn silk in July. Unpretentious browns and
grays the stain of Indiana clay, They're what's left of
shallow seas, glacial rock and mystery, And inside there shines a
crystal bright as promise,
We have come to believe there's hidden
good in common things
-- Geodes, Carrie Newcomer
I forgot my fortune cookie last night,
but cracked it open this afternoon. It said: You need to balance your
gentle side with your goals. So, no
stream and no ice-cream tonight? Or definitely ice-cream?
Geodes illuminate this journal perhaps? Most are not so interesting inside,
but every now and then there's one that is "crystal bright as promise." The
thing of it is, I don't know, before my fingers tickle a post out, whether
it will reach even close to promise. And often it is in the most so-what
dismissible post that a line or two sparkles bright with dense-packed
Some say geodes are made from
pockets of tears,
Trapped away in small places for years upon years. Pressed down and transformed, ‘til the true self was born,
And the whole world moved on like the
last notes of a song,
-- Geodes, Carrie Newcomer
Now many would think I ought really to rather do that dense packing, that
transformation that takes this messy wild place and turns some of what appears
here into crystals. While I'm thinking my life -- all my experience and all my
thought-life -- does that. And you, if you return here, you know there are
crystals bright as promise strewn about. Don't you?
Image: By Sara.
There was a big tweetabaloo during Jim Coplien's (I
gather at least somewhat) provocative talk at the GOTO:Copenhagen conference and trying to assemble the picture
from the shards of flak that were flying is dangerous. Entering the fray even
more so. So, naturally, I'll have to enter the fray. From the safety of the
entrance to my rabbit hole. ;-)
Uh. On second thought. Maybe not.
5/13/11: Summing up one side of the argument (retweeted by Dan North/tastapod):
5/16/11: I indulged in a neologism, creating Tweetabaloo from Tweet and
hullabaloo but Google didn't index it so its not a Googlism. Wha... I'm stunned.
As an explicit principle,
building more complex things from proven smaller things goes back to Herbert
Simon (and others I expect, but Simon's The Architecture of
Complexity, 1962, is one of the classics our field looks to). (Yep, the Simon of
bounded rationality fame. Take note!) But while the whole tree is contained
within its seed, the whole system is not contained within its first increment.
It is, however, constrained by it in ways we tend to deny or don't give due recognition
to. What we start to build sets us down a path of an increasingly pruned
opportunity tree. Richard Gabriel called it 'canalization" and I like that. Now we could pitch the point that the topography of the
ecosystem determines the canals, water flows downhill and all that, so the
natural result will be a good fit to the ecology. Indeed, the analogy unfolds
some interesting insights. But socio-technical systems also interact with and
shape the ecosystem. That is, the a priori potential ecosystem isn't
predetermined. It just becomes increasingly determined. Take Amazon, for
example. Now that's some shaping force! The river, and the company!
Anyway, the point is that if we simply build out of smaller things (that we
prove with unit tests), we are building blind to what else we could have done
with our brain cycles and business resources and blind to where we're headed. We
could counter that the Product Owner holds the vision that sets the course, but
then the product owner is being put in charge of the shaping face of the design
without any recognition that this is so.
6/1/11: It is well to bear in mind:
'Most startups fail because they
waste too much time and money building the wrong product before realizing too
late what the right product should have been, says HBS entrepreneurial
management professor Thomas R. Eisenmann'
Google CEO On Privacy (VIDEO): 'If You Have Something You Don't Want
Anyone To Know, Maybe You Shouldn't Be Doing It' First, Huffington Post, 12-
That might get punishment acumbens over-excited, but to me it is more useful
to turn to the bigger question of how to we want to be? We have a lot to
figure out about how to live in this age of technology-induced upheaval in
bio-social spheres. I'm having so much fun with the Visual Architecting book (which also makes it fun to take a break from it and all the other
work), but once that's done, and the other two architecting books are done,
and ... then I'd love to turn my attention to exploring the
technology-ethics-philosophy space. :-) I put the three together, because I
really think what we view as ethical relates to how we view what it means to
be fully, meaningfully human, and both the ethical and the "what is human"
question is being challenged by what technology enables and draws us into.
Dana's just back from Canada and while we cooked dinner I was telling him
about all the pieces that came together in the book this week, and he's excited too.
Stick around. I think you'll like what we're doing! : )
Biske should say that... and well-timed. After my "the future is hanging in the air" post
(leveraging Gladwell and doing a riff on Microsoft+Skype to illustrate), I was
thinking again about the blurb for a Roadmapping Workshop we're working up. It
occurred to me that Charlie Alfred's weather prediction analogy was a neat
analogy to use in the workshop overview. We joke about the accuracy of
weather predictions, but when last did you check the weather? And use weather
forecasts to adjust what you do or take on a family outing? Etc. Meteorology has
advanced because it is viewed as vital, and because we have studied patterns and
applied technology and advanced theories and and and. Yeah there are surprises
-- even when we understand we're talking probabilities. Anyway, IT "meteorology"
or trend forecasting to find opportunity and threat is majorly architecturally
significant. So much so, that I tell architects and their managers that
roadmap/projections are, like architectures, something architects needed to be
chartered with (given the bandwidth to do), not just once but also keeping them alive and evolving.
Not so much as to make it a life's work, but enough to keep a project (or
organizational, at broader architectural scopes) "radar" tracking and
spotting shaping trends and events. We
just can't do enough roadmapping in our architecture workshops to really shift
attitude and develop skillsets that are needed there, hence a standalone
workshop with that focus.
No, we didn't hit a time-warp and its not April 1. If the architect isn't
making projections about technology trends and what opportunity and threat they
belie, who is? The distinguishing charter of architects is that they are
responsible for strategic technical decisions that must be made with system-wide
perspective and authority. Strategic. That means impacts competitiveness and
sustainability. Taking care of today, but in a way that makes us successful as
today slips so quickly into the past. We're developers. Not hobblers and
prisoners who tie the system to the millstone of a today that in a flash is
history. Structural integrity is about readiness for anticipated forces.
We have to be able to anticipate.
Blah blah rhetoric. Want to take the workshop?
5/16/11: Sara drew a cartoon tonight. One girl says "My crystal ball says
it's going to snow." The other says "That's no crystal ball. That's a snow
And I haven't talked about predictions/roadmaps/technology projections in the
family setting. Woooo. It's in the air I tell you. ; )Sara told us she'd seen a cool video at school today, and described the
double slit experiment, exclaiming that it is awesome. Sara: "What career
studies stuff like that?" "Quantum physics." Sara: "That's what I want to do!"
5/20/11: What New Scientist sees in its crystal ball for the next decade. Some things are
easier to see in terms of extinction. Looking at the Gutenberg New Testament in
the Lilly Library at IU Bloomington the other day, it struck me viscerally that
in my children's lifetime there will be children that never touch a book except
in museums or other collections. What a reversal! In the day of Gutenberg, few
children experienced a book. My children's children or others of their
generation, may not either. And over the course of the next 100 years, this will
become more true as digital "books" morph into something that transcends
traditional books in interactivity, convenience and environmental impact...
5/20/11: And what did the New Scientist miss? Space travel, exploration and
exploitation. But who didn't miss this? The 7 year old kid that won the Google logo
competition! [Um, does Google have a sense of humor or what? The G (for
google) monster is sucking up the earth?]
5/20/11: We do need to find a better word than "roadmaps" for the activity is
not one of (hallucinating we are) mapping the future and a path into it! It is
about tuning up our perception of forces and trends that are mounting in the
present, looming over landscapes, forming into patterns of opportunity or
threat. And, yes, we make assertions which are bound to be wrong but nonetheless
alert us to potentiality. That way we can mitigate and even mine threat by
finding opportunity in its flip side. The idea is not to get stuck painting
imaginary landscapes of the future, but rather to find opportunity and threat in
the clusters of trends, forces, expectations, desires that are shaping up in
compelling ways. A key activity is characterizing risk and looking for threat
and opportunity therein. Another is looking for what is shaping up to be a
forceful direction things are moving in -- a wave to ride. And so forth. You
could just say that it is an opportunity finding game that steps into what is
possible and what is likely and plays around there just for a while. Well, for
two days, but that includes a bunch of different exercises, some encouraging
divergence and some convergence.
5/21/11: Of course, this xkcd is perfect.
And yes, you can. You could even help us find the right name. Dana uses
"projection" where others would say roadmap, but projection doesn't quite have
the right zest does it?Architecture is very much about dialog across (Dana introduced our signature "umbrella" or arc diagram to illustrate this).
Across the system, and so across all the organizational entities that interact
with the system and in its creation, evolution, production, and retirement. And
across time, over time yes, but also leveraging our prefrontal cortex to be more
anticipatory so we take into account how what we are doing now is weaving the
cloth on which our future rests.
"Software is the invisible thread and
hardware is the loom on which computing weaves its fabric, a fabric that we have
now draped across all of life." -- Grady Booch
One game to play looking at projections is finding all the things that won't
5/21/11: Now I see Eric Richardson presentation deck, and realize Todd Biske
was referring to Eric's analogy! It is a great one! See:
I like the analogy, and Eric's use of it. It is a really artistic
conveyance for salient insights actionably cast. Well done!
our various workshops, we do introduce roadmaps and distinguish between timing
and dependency planning roadmaps and projections. Both are crucial. And need the
active engagement and contribution of architects. Here is a neat example of the
timing and dependency/interaction planning kind:
Roger Martin's Opposable Mind is an
important (must?) read for architects, making the case that integrative "and"
thinking gives us an evolutionary advantage over "or" thinking. But
succumbs a bit to "or" thinking himself, suggesting that we need to do "and"
thinking not tradeoff ("or") thinking! ;-) It is really important to remind
ourselves, though, to look for integrative win-win options rather than jumping
to decompositional either-or approaches as our de facto or predominant problem
solving style. Solving problems by redefining them, for example. Reframing,
changing perspective, finding combinatorial approaches rather than jumping to
exclusivist single-track approaches.
“In the case of science, I think one of the
things that makes it very difficult is that it takes a lot of imagination,” he
says. “It’s very hard to imagine all the crazy things that things really are
like. Nothing’s really as it seems. [...] But I find myself trying to imagine
all kinds of things all the time. And I get a kick out of it.”
-- Richard Feynman
A reason to envy, once again, everyone who has access to
the BBC -- Richard
Feynman: Fun to Imagine series. But I did find the series on CosmoLearning. Phew! It's really wonderful! I love how Feynman
uses his hands to add a visual dimension to his explanation.
There is also a trove of resources on Feynman on the Simoleon Sense site. It includes a pointer to this TED Talk by Leonard Susskin
discussing Feynman's unconventional approach to ... everything:
today, jotting notes over lunch at the Indy Zoo, it occurred to me that it
is worth making the explicit point that a key part of the architect's ongoing
role is not just evolving the architecture, but explaining the architecture to
herself and others. We seek to understand its structure, mechanisms and quirks
-- what it is, how it is structured, how it works, how it gives rise to the
properties we perceive, what properties we need to measure to perceive them, and
so on, and on. Seeking to understand is explaining to ourselves. And by
explaining to others, we have to get the understanding clearer ourselves. We
have to move from inner mental leaps to a more clarified, sharable presentation
of our mental model of what is going on. Anyway, it is worth making the point
explicit, because it has implications for what the architect needs to preserve
cycles to do (and management needs to understand that this is a key part of the
role). It also makes the point that descriptions and explanations -- that is
informal sketches (even hand gestures, per Feynman) or diagrams and models along
with words in conversation and in text -- are important not just to
communicating and documenting the system design but to evolving it. Alternately
put, they are tools architects use to assist the imagination and to enable
collaboration and this is not a do-once thing, but needs to happen to evolve the
design so that we can do that reflection-in-action thing that allows us to grow
our understanding and shape the system with intentionality, while allowing for
learning and adaptation -- sometimes (oftentimes!) ad hoc and on-the-fly
adaptation. The architect is not just "laying down track just in front of the
train," but understanding what we have and we need to put in place. And anticipating where we're headed...
Ok, so yesterday Ryan wanted to go to the
Apple Store in Indy. Looking for where to find it, I Googled and found The Apple
Store at Conner Prairie. It was only open September - October each year, so
wondering what gives, I Googled further. It's an apple store, not an Apple
Store. Like who knew? I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. Talk about
commandeering a term. Who thinks about apples as fruit nowadays? I mean really,
we need to change the name at least to was-apple. ;-) (Altho... that would be
confusing too -- Woz-Apple sounds too much like was-apple.)
At the store, what
did Sara most want? One of the great big display iPads in the window! I
tell you, iWall is coming. We know that Steve Jobs has to be so onto Kinect,
they totally get gestural, they already have Face Talk... and the relationship
platform... Microsoft? Cisco?
you give a mouse a cookie...
"But the idea that we can actually predict
which technologies will flourish flies in the face of all the evidence. The
truth is far messier and more difficult to manage."
-- Tim Harford, The Airplane That
Saved the World
Yeah. So? If it is within the grasp of our conception, we
can start to test it -- in our imagination, with mock-ups or "pretendotypes,"
with prototypes, ... with products, and these start to shift the ecosystem.
Potentially even reshape it. Like this:
I've noted that failure sure
has become trendy... which means failure must be setting up to fail! Rather than crash into the "trough
of disillusionment" on fail, perhaps we should consider whether it is time to jump the failure
shark? Well, that's too bad, 'cos that Spitfire article (and the
book it refers to, I bet) makes several useful points about the role of
failure in innovation.
Modeling. Agile. Failure next? Oh my.
Well, many a phoenix rises out of the ashes of the crash of disenthrallment.
And failure may be the "silver bullet du jour" (wink), but it's been
around a while:
The London Underground map illustrates that a map that is useful may
not be, in some ways we might otherwise anticipate, accurate models of
the reality of the systems they represent. But in key ways, in ways that best inform
the decisions at hand, they are accurate. We know the adage "the map is
not the territory." We don't expect it to be! The territory is out there
in all its unmanageable complexity. From a map, we need something else.
So the key for a visualization that supports decision
making is to know what we a deciding about. Models depict an aspect of
the (envisioned) reality -- this is "separation of concerns" that
simplifies and gives us cognitive traction. What hadn't popped out at me
until reading the paper by Janin Hadlaw, was the notion that we also
(choose to, or unconsciously) distort elements in the view to make the
key relationships more apparent. The "block and line" conceptual
diagrams of software architectures are such distortions, rendering
software abstractions as named blocks (indicative of abstractions -- in
the drawing/painting or sculpture sense -- or compressions -- in the
poetry sense -- of elements of the system) and positioning them and
using lines to show relationships (subsuming interactions, dependencies,
A map helps us locate our position, find our way, see where we have
come from, plan where we are going, plan synchronization points, etc.
A conceptual architecture diagram, or conceptual
diagram of the key elements and relationships, of the system under
evolution could be viewed as a map of the system. As such,
it is used in all those ways -- to locate, to navigate, to plan, to
assess. That's not the extent of its utility. But for those purposes,
though, it does highlight the need for a ready grasp of the map, given
the mental models we hold of the system. If we use cartography as a
metaphor, for example, we'd want code abstractions represented in the
topology to bear relationships to one another that map to relationships
we hold in our mind's eye based on the concepts of the architecture that
have seeped into the "tribal" mind of the team through informal sketches
and discussions and narratives that are spun as the architecture is
explained or changes to it are debated.
What books on complexity have you enjoyed? Which do you consider
important reads for architects?
One might jump too
quickly to the conclusion that the damage
is in the metaphor rather than its (mis)application. At one level, I don't really
like a manufacturing analogy for software development (mainly because it
reinforces specialization and hand-off oriented division of labor) but the flexible factory
analogy inspired us in many ways to pull more people sensitivity rather than
less into the work we did, and the lean/kanban thing encourages groups to establish a rhythm around flow rather than clock-speed. Rhythm is important.
And so is
architecture. Now that (architecture) is a source of analogical learning that I think is only going to get more rich and
vibrant. This awesome video really sets a vision for architects creating systems
that blend organismic with advanced-tech to add more than austere (and in
impactful ways subtractive) function to their environment:
I love the way Thomas Heatherwick talks about essential qualities as key
design drivers, and how the decision to focus on doing one thing and doing it
exceedingly well produced an awe-inducing design we just fall in love with. I
want to say a "futuristic" seed pod housing seeds, but that building is a
realization of "the future is now"! These designs make Frank Gehry look
positively my generation. When I think of where we're going with 3D printing,
materials and design advances, I'm excited to the point of goose-bumps!
5/20/11: The metaphor Michael Feathers was referring to is described in his
blog post titled The Carrying-Cost of Code: Taking Lean Seriously. Kent Beck's post on TDD and Kanban is
both relevant and a good read. My piece on refactoring helps fill in some gaps in understanding, I think...
In other words, "keep your work area clean" can be translated to refactoring in
the small (a la Martin Fowler's definition) as Kent recommends in step 5 of his TTD outline, but we also need to evolve and tend the architecture which means
refactoring and clean-up at other levels too, to simplify and cut code but also to turn ad hoc, improvisational
(let's face it -- kludgy) mechanisms (and the elements they comprise) into
industrial-design-strength (product or production-ready) mechanisms, etc. An
iterative and incremental approach can lean to the experimental and
improvisational, and we need to be sure to ready our software for "prime-time"
during the increments or we end up with a mess of deferred decisions and punts
What we're still coming to grips with as an industry is that we're doing
discovery and inventive design in conjunction with building systems. When these
systems are products (or embedded in products) or systems that enable our
business in key ways, meaning our prime-time business depends on them for
business outcomes, we need to bridge the distance between experimental and
production-ready and a common tendency is to defer this to the end-game but then
we're faced with the proverbial hairball (or ball of mud).
Lessons from improv:
"Can you give an example of such a project and
how it can help a business?"
worked with a [consumer packaged-goods] company that makes sports beverages.
They were interested in the sentiment—feeling—in the marketplace about their
drink. We developed technology to find the exact blogs talking about their
product and started extracting the conversations about their sports drink
for analysis. We made it possible to judge the sentiment being expressed and
also to identify who the influencers are. We want to find the people an
enterprise should target with new messages so the social network will take
care of the rest and [the messages] will spread widely.
technology will form the basis of a new product we will in the future be
able to offer all of IBM's big customers."
Business analytics can be used to create products we want or to try
to manipulate behaviors... MIT's Technology Review's business section
is focusing on business analytics this month, with free access to the
online articles this month. They include:
"Technology for printing
three-dimensional objects has existed for decades, but its applications
have been largely limited to novelty items and specialized custom
fabrication, such as the making of personalized prosthetics. But the
technology has now improved to the point that these printers can make
intricate objects out of durable materials , including ceramics and
metals such as titanium and aluminum, with resolution on the scale of
tens of micrometers.
As a result, companies such as GE and the European defense and aerospace
giant EADS are working to apply it in situations more akin to
conventional manufacturing, where large numbers of the same part are
Tom Graves making some good points (packed in only 4
minutes) about enterprise
architecture (stories, people, culture, connections, translation,...):
And (second hand), Jan Bosch making good points about "architecture
in the age of composibility." Wish I'd been there. :-) Well, I'm sure
they'll be just begging us to do the "something about boxes" tutorial next year.
Did I mention I'm excited about how the book is shaping up? ; )G'night. 5/19/11: As for my mischievous smiley-wink, aside from signaling playfulness,
the smile thing is like money in your
pocket. Really! See this:
Smiles are play signals. And connection signals. Dogs smile. Our dog smiles
all over her face and through her body all the way to her tail! She smiles at
people and they smile back. Children smile and laugh like bells and our spirits
"chime in," syncing with their infectious exuberant happiness. Now, in this age
of hyper-connectivity over the internet, we don't have that face-to-face
experience with many we interact with (mind to mind, as we read) so we need to
convey in lilting words the spirit of a smile. And icons, lest the playfulness
not come fully or unambiguously across.
We want to approach problems intentionally and
rationally. We want to exert control over our outcomes and shape our destiny. We
want levers to control, to drive, and we have all kinds of "-driven" approaches.
The thing is, though, that rationality only serves us so far. So it is a good
thing that we have left and right brains. And we can draw on diversity within
our own thinking styles and within our teams, and extended teams. Messy problems
confound (entirely) rational approaches. That's how we define wicked problems.
And system-of-system problems (or opportunities) are (or tend to be) messy,
wicked problems. We apply reason. And intuition. We rationalize. And have hunches. Blink.
Gut instinct. Of course, you're thinking my rationality is more bounded than yours. So
there is a bigger role for me to play. ; ) I jest. I am analytical to a fault.
And intuitive to a fault. As I remarked yesterday, I am my own best antidote to any kind of arrogance!
; ) As control goes...
often ask "How?" which focuses too closely on
the practical way of getting something done and
is actually a subconscious expression of
society's emphasis on control of people, time,
and cost. Instead, our concentration should be
focused on "Why?" -- Amazon Editorial Review
message for leaders of organizations is that
until now we've indulged our fear, created
cultures of control and dependency and they are
bankrupt. The illusion of control never lasts
long (look at any of your recent IT projects,
for example) and dependency breeds discontent,
waste, and backward momentum - all the things
that give us more reasons to be fearful and to
want to control. The lessons in this book may
well allow us to break that cycle, but only if
we develop the courage first and foremost to be
accountable for who we are. One first step might
be to ignore the voice of your ego insisting
that you stop reading this silly book, and to
read on with renewed attention." --
Jonathan Magid, Amazon review
describes the following five capabilities as being
necessary for the social architect to be effective.
Paradoxically much on these ‘capabilities’ seem to
get lost in the organisations we work in today…
architecture is fundamentally, a convening
function, giving particular attention to all
aspects of how people gather. The future is
created as a collective act…… The fundamental
tenet of social architecture is that the way
people gather is critical to the way the system
functions." In many organisations meetings
are seen as a ‘necessary evil’, something to be
tolerated, in between more important events. The
consideration of how people gather and meet is
of secondary importance.
Naming the question: "The
social architect has an obligation to define the
context, or the playing field, and then define
the right questions, at least to start with".
Too many people dive into the how, selling
solutions and describing best practices. Not
enough people lead by taking the time to
understand the quest that matters.
Initiating new conversations for
learning: "To sustain the
habitability of a social system we must initiate
new conversations and manage the airspace so
that all voices stay engaged with each other."
Too many conversations in organisations are
initiated to ‘align’ people to lead them towards
a predetermined answer, with not enough learning
Sticking with strategies of engagement
and consent: "…dialogue itself is part
of the solution…. Commitment and accountability
cannot be sold. They have to be evoked, and
evocation comes through conversation."
Organisations change through effective
Designing strategies that support local
choice: "If our intent is to create
a social system that people want to inhabit then
the social architect’s job is to demand that the
inhabitants join in designing the system."
And if those five capabilities resonate with you as applicable to
software/system/enterprise architects, you'll probably like To Lead is to
See, to Frame, to Draw. (Part II of The Art of Change). Well, my
subconscious is playing coy and won't deliver the last section. I've tried
throwing things at it... oh, not really. Goodness, the things you're willing
to think! Serendipity at work -- I read George Ambler's post and was struck by
Peter Block's first capability, namely that of convening. I returned to the
project reading I was doing but when I checked email later, this book was
That's some pretty powerful coincidence. Or... Meetings out.
Convening in. I've met the new meme and it is... podular! It's all
connected. I do like the work Dave Gray is doing. It's visual and
connected. And he liked my suggestion. ; )
Earlier this month, I journaled: adding to our cognitive options and enabling us to
leverage prior art and science offered in different media not just code. On the Intentional Software site, they say:
"Businesses invest a great deal of
time and expense developing software. But all too often the knowledge
and insights gained during the development disappear into the details of
the code or at best only exist in documents with slender ties to the
actual source code. Another name for this latent value is the intent
behind the software." -- Intentional
I had that rush
of ah ha-endorphins reading that, but was disappointed by what came
next. Then I realized that much of the knowledge and insights gained in
the process of exploring and building our systems are about the
business, the capabilities it needs to develop and the architecture, and
while these are best implemented in software we can evolve most ably, we
shouldn't rush to the thought that this encoding is necessarily the best
or only way to convey these insights about the value system and the
capabilities we infer we need to build, nor even necessarily the best
way to describe, for design thinking and understandability purposes, the
architectural elements, relationships and mechanisms we need to build to
create these capabilities! That is a historically long sentence! That is reason enough not to
break it up, huh? In short, our systems encode business knowledge in terms that
obfuscate that knowledge. If we want to leverage the prior art and
knowledge we hold in our systems, and if we want to learn from and more
intentionally evolve them, we need to have more forms of expressing the
art and the knowledge, and allow and encourage and advocate more, and
more rich, ways to represent that knowledge. Oral histories yes.
Pictures yes. Documentation yes. Code yes. Informal and messy like the
problems we deal with, and formal and precise and close to, even
expressed in, code. Complex systems need to be encountered, grokked,
reasoned about at different levels (with interaction or feed-forward and
feedback among them), seeing different facets, thinking through
different structures and mechanisms. We don't study and understand and
evolve/fix the human body at the level of the cell. Only. Why do we
think this should be true of software systems? Especially complex
sets out the techniques that
work best in approaching 'messes' (with rules and practical advice on
• Escaping Mental
Traps (History, Habit and Action Traps, Double Binds, Value Rigidity) • Diagnosing with
Multiple-Cause Diagrams • Drawing and using Rich Pictures and Influence Diagrams • Understanding messes
with Systems Maps • Building
Human-Activity System Diagrams • The 5Es (Efficacy,
Efficiency, Effectiveness, Elegance, Ethics) • Viewing messes
through an Understandascope ... P.S. The title? In Catch-22 Yossarian says,
"We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings
on the way down". This book says we can acquire Systems Thinking skills
best by actually using them.
-- Michelle Smith, Triarchy Press email, 5/19/11
The common belief, given argument and prevalent practice, is that our
thinking about software systems should be in code, otherwise the code
diverges from the design. However, we need to question whether code is the
only/best vehicle for exercising the system thinking we need to do.
The internet, in large part,
is reshaping so much in our lives. It is changing organization boundaries,
making them much more pervious. We see this in multiple dimensions, from
employee relationships to innovation relationships to marketing relationships to
production and distribution and... The value network is becoming more organic
and organismic, less formal, less controlled, enabled by a relationship
platform, and leveraging culture, values, identity and shared value to create
pull flow rather than controlling push machinations. As the organizational lines
become more fuzzy, the distinctions between competitors become more blurred too,
with more "co-opetition." Not everybody gets it yet that dominance hierarchy
behaviors and competitive postures are only one way to be in a value ecosystem,
and co-operative, collaborative behaviors can make a value system stronger for
all concerned. So, I am a connector. I put people and ideas together. I try to
root out competitive behavior when I find it in my work, in favor of nurturing
our field. If you think I should know about and point to your work, tell me
Matt posited that there is conservation
of complexity—you can push it around, but you can't do away with it.
Architecture, if you like, is about husbanding complexity, by which I mean it is
about reaping value that comes hand-in-glove with complexity by putting
complexity into forms we can (better) cope with.
Kris makes the point that
to increase agility along certain dimensions, barriers to change are introduced
in other dimensions (a generalization of Grady Booch's "cost of change" to
"barriers to change" to include intangible factors like
significant change requires substantial empowerment).
This is a
fun contrarian post designed to challenge and extend the boundaries of
our thinking about enterprise architecture: There Ain’t No Architecture in EA, Ondrej Galik, May 20, 2011. I like the list of archetypes of
which the architect is a (balanced and context sensitive) composite! Composite. There's a term. Hm. What are the concepts we might use to
characterize systems architecture, and in particular enterprise
architecture? Context sensitivity is one, isn't it? I have real trouble
with pithy definitions because we're trying to capture sophisticated
understanding in just a few words and so we might nail one of the trendrils of the thing, and find other tendrils defy that
characterization. Or something. I'm not saying we shouldn't try. I am
saying we should give one-liner definitions a bit of headroom. While
admiring those who try to reach better compact definitions, on the one
hand, and richer understanding, on the other. As for me,
I caved and did it the "central
concerns and key decisions"* way. I know, it was a cop-out but still
quite valuable, don't you think? Under cost-cutting retrenchment, the heat often gets turned up on
enterprise architects as detractors seek to burst the bubble that
floats, in their eyes, the "astronaut architect." Politics can involve
dirty tricks and power mongering, favoring vested interests, and so
forth. And enterprise architects who work across interests, working to
achieve strategic outcomes, are going to be a target of insular
self-interest. But I wasn't planning to talk about our bubble today. * Here's a more recent stab at characterizing software architecture: Decisions, Concerns ... (re)Defining Software Architecture
Well, let's ponder the architecture in
enterprise architecture. Is an enterprise a system (of systems)? If so, is
it possible to, and should we try to, characterize these systems and their
interactions, or any facets thereof? Is it possible to, and should we try
to, design to achieve more the enterprise outcomes that are sought? What
mechanisms are there to achieve this? How might they be applied?
Acknowledging the complexity of enterprises, should we abandon all
intention? Could we even do this? If we accept (at least some)
intentionality or directed goal-seeking, learning, adaptive organizational
behavior, who would seek to understand this, and shape this intentionality
at the enterprise scope? I'm going
to be tiresome and point to one of our papers -- oh, make that two. Uh,
actually, three. :-) The Enterprise
Architecture as Strategic Differentiator paper describes enterprise architecture as business capabilities
architecture. The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent takes the strategy and capabilities models introduced in Enterprise
Architecture as Strategic Differentiator and elaborates on them. And the What it Takes to
be a Great Enterprise Architect explores the role and skills of the enterprise architect. There is a lot
of spread in whether and how organizations have set up the practice and
responsibilities of enterprise architecture. There isn't even common
understanding among enterprise architects. But let's face it, there isn't a
universal understanding of and approach to business strategy (or business
model generation) either. Does that make it a bad idea? Altogether? Do you not
even see a role for shaping identity and culture? Well then, what about
synergies within value streams? What about connections that make new value
creation possible? Enabling relationships within and without? As I said, there
is variance in how the role is set up, but where enterprise architects are
senior leaders who work across organizational entities to translate strategic
initiatives into capability designs working with business leadership to create
and execute the strategy, it is also a highly visible and vulnerable role.
Vulnerable, for example, when pendulums swing from "innovation" and "strategic
initiatives" to cost cutting and insular, protective, tactical focus. So in good part it comes down to enterprise architects shaping what
enterprise architecture is for their organizations. Yes, they're often painted
into a corner by expectations, perceptions and vested interests, but sometimes
they also paint their own preferred corners and hang out in a comfort zone. In other cases, enterprise architects are (pro)actively
shaping the organization's view of enterprise architecture. As for me, I'm
working on the next advance beyond business capabilities architecture.* The
world doesn't stand still, and nor does our approach.Meanwhile... here's
Forrester's take on business capability maps. This is
"whenever we see a stable system we
need to search for the forces that are keeping it stable" -- Steven Forth's review of Biology's First Law: The Tendency for Diversity
and Complexity to Increase in Evolutionary Systems by Daniel W. McShea and
Robert N. Brandon, 2010 (0226562263)
* So don't recommend that anyone reads here. That way what's percolating
is just our secret. Actually, do recommend they read here. They'll take one
look, write me off and never bother to look here again. ; ) That "needles in a needlestack" (Marx Brothers) thing is powerful stuff.
It is invoked when Google and Facebook privacy concerns come up, and it is the
game we're all playing (even if we only only use email), isn't it? More
extensive connectedness is a more vulnerable, less self-protecting stance, and
this is true for organizations and individuals. Brene Brown talks about
connectedness and vulnerability in this TED talk.
That is at the individual level, but we see organizations also falling into a
spectrum from more "control-oriented" to more vulnerable (in some senses), more
variably and deeply connected.And as we come to view organizations in terms
of connections, we understand Peter Bakker's interest in subway maps. Here's
another neat example Peter has scouted out: DotNetNuke's ecosystem, depicted as
a subway map.5/30/11: I found this interesting: Seven Rules of Business
Alignment by Alan Inglis, Cutter IT Journal, Dec 2008
If we have a notion of
architectural significance (that is, a decision significant enough as to be part
of the architecture with all the attendant ramifications of decision ownership,
documentation, currency and evolution, etc.), we implicitly have a notion that some decisions are
significant and others not, but to be a decision at all at some point it is
significant to someone for some reason. In other words, we realize that at broad
levels of scope any decision may not be significant enough to be architectural,
but as we consider more narrow system scopes (narrowing, for example, from
system of complex system-of-systems, to system of system, to system of parts, to
a part) at some point it is significant at that scope. That is, significance is
scope or context-sensitive and is also a relative notion which together means
that someone, or some group, has to decide if the decision is significant at
Taking Grady Booch's "significant is measured by cost of change" as a launching point, Kris Meukens discussion suggests the following heuristic: while the cost of
change is (or, more broadly, barriers to change are) not significant relative to
(the costs inherent in) the system, that decision is not architecturally
significant for that system -- that is, at that system scope. For example,
an application (and its decision set) may be critical to an area of the
business, but insignificant at the scope of the enterprise.
This implies that for any action that impacts value/cost/risk (nontrivially),
we can consider at which level of organizational or system (of system) scope it
becomes significant to strategic outcomes. In particular, the heuristic guidance
we give is to balance the need to push decisions to more narrow scope for the
reasons described in our minimalist architecture principle work (described here and here) with the need to push decisions up to more broad scope to achieve
desired system outcomes. For example, we'd push a decision to higher scope if it
was necessary to have the broader charter/empowerment of higher scope (and more
senior architects) to achieve strategic synergies across the broader scope or to
overcome barriers (like insular vested interests) at narrow scope which would
otherwise be an impediment to a strategic outcome. That is, ideally we
make decisions at the broadest level of scope for which the concern/decision is
architecturally significant, to take into account the impact at (all of its)
relevant strategic impact/high cost/high barrier scope. But we are disciplined
about which decisions we make and which we defer and delegate to more narrow
decision scope. In addition to considering how germane a concern/decision (set)
is to strategic outcomes at that level of scope, we would consider whether the
concern needs to be dealt with at that level of scope or if it can be considered
within a more narrow responsibility scope/decision charter without undoing
desired strategic outcomes. If it is not strikingly clear the decision is
architecturally significant (critical to strategic outcomes), we'd err on the
side of deferring (we'll know more later and we can decide who decides then) and
delegating (closer to the information, empowerment increases ownership, etc.) to
more narrow scope.
A different take on "significant if it bears high cost of change," is that a
decision is architecturally significant if it inhibits the organization's
ability to change. That is, if it is going to become a substantial barrier to
change, we'd better get the decision "right" or more right than not. This is a
different slant though we are still concerned with what is strategic, for it
says we need to get the strategy and its technical manifestation "right" in
terms of the general ballgame. Like any of the other tacks, it implies that
architectural decisions are those that need both technical savvy and keen
Conversely, if a decision (set) could substantively impact the organization's
ability to change, enhancing its agility, it is architecturally significant --
but of course, such a decision is strategic (impacts sustainability), though it
is lowering the cost of change at least for changes within an envelope of
possibility enabled by the architectural choice/decision. That is, change costs,
but we can shift these costs around,
pushing them into higher cost-lower likelihood or higher-cost-future-burden,
These are all different angles or perspectives on the same "beastie" of what
is architectural, and it helps to take different vantage points because they
illuminate or emphasize different insights. This is useful to do as we define or
characterize the system we're designing, and useful to define or characterize
what it is we're doing when we design a system and attempt to sort out which
part of that is architectural (and hence the charter of the architect).
5/24/11: Many of the decisions we make are in bundled sets, so we aren't
decision-by-decision deciding who makes the decision! That would be
painful/onerous! And not pragmatic and not fleet. Some decisions are clearly
architectural at a particular system scope -- like designing the defining
shape of the system. Still, not only does this heuristic give us a way to
talk about architectural design but a way to empower architects to decide
when an architect needs to make the decision, lead the decision making
process for that decision, or ensure the decision does not adversely impact
the sought strategic outcome. It is a heuristic for delegating -- delegating
up to an architect at broader scope, or delegating down to an architect or
developer at narrower scope. Where up and down are relative to the scope
arcs, though architects chartered at broader scope are generally more senior
because the demands for leadership, strategy and political skills are so
much the greater the more organization entities (resource control --> power
--> political turfs) that are crossed. Kris's point about barriers to
(not just cost of) change is hugely important!
By strategic, we mean highest priority and critical to the strategic
direction at that level of scope or higher. For a discussion of fractal
strategy, see The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent.
* We might say it is below the decision radar at enterprise scope, unless some
cross-cutting concern like system integration and consistency causes (some
aspect of) certain decision to pop onto the enterprise radar.
Let's scope our discussion to software systems or at least out-frame
enterprise design (interventions):
There are many kinds of design activity, including design of the facets of
the system users experience directly and design of the "internal" structure and
dynamics of the system. In our field, we have succumbed to division of labor and
role specialization that separates the design of system capabilities (we call
this requirements capture or elicitation which is a smoke screen hiding the
significant design work that is, or worse is not, being done) from user
experience/interaction design from the design of the architecture from "detailed
design" (most often in the medium of code possibly expressed in unit tests). In Visual Architecting we advocate iterating across capabilities design and
structural design (including the design of mechanisms which covers the design of
components and interactions to accomplish some purpose with properties that fall
within the design envelope). Why? Because we need that feedback loop as we
ideate and evaluate capabilities.
The point about designing capabilities rather than copying down a me-too list
of competitor's feature sets and adding a delta here and there, are made in the
context of start-ups, but they apply well to product development in any company:
what I do see in the market in 2011 is way too many “me too” solutions where a
bunch of founders have brainstormed a way to do a better GroupOn, a better
GiltGroupe, a better Twitter or a better Quora. When pressed not enough of these
entrepreneurs can answer questions about why users would still be using this
product in 5 years, about why their product is going to solve a consumer or
business problem that isn’t being solved today. They pitch me features, not
If we differentiate feature by feature we're in a neck-and-neck game of
short-lived (because it is easy and quick to emulate) incremental advantage when
we need to create competitive space by creating value that isn't already on
offer in the ecosystem. You could say we want to create demand not merely fill
demand. In the context of IT systems, "requirements" is too often treated like a
problem of automating (hence entrenching) or modernizing what is or what the
business says it wants ("faster horses"), rather than as a matter of system design. Might I suggest the delight section of The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent?
Kris's post on Orders of Agility and the role architecture plays has me thinking. I'm still interacting with the thoughts
prompted by Kris's April post, and he goes and does it again! On my first reading, this line (in
its context), for example,
rattled loose all kinds of ah ahs in my mind:
offers plenty of room for change but hardly any quick and easy amplification
of coordinated directed change
[And thanks for the recommend on this journal, Kris. That is encouraging --
hence dangerous! ;-) ]
A few days ago I got back on Meebo for the first time in a while, and read the
Meebo blog post inserted on my meebo "base station" announcing Meebo "quests"
supposedly to make "breaks" more fun.
The problem I have with "gamification" is the notion that companies are, like
cigarette companies, explicitly trying to make internet surfing more addictive.
Add to that the
tracking and more targeted advertizing, to tempt internet addicts to buy more,
and we have a very sinister behavior.
Ads that stalk one from site to site. And making the internet more addictive to
sell more. Shudder.
Why don't we invest our development talent and BI savvy in improving our value
streams and creating products people love so much they draw them through the
value network, rather than employing subversive tactics to manipulate them to
buy things they aren't sure they want or need? There is so much need for
products that will regroove humanity to lower and even zero our environmental
footprint, why are we spending our talents inducing people to buy more stuff?
That's an allusion to an observation I made on 97 Axioms.
John Hagel's The Pull of Narrative – In Search of Persistent Context is a worthwhile
read. He is redefining or refining narrative (away from common understanding and
extant dictionary definitions we're more familiar with) but he is careful to
indicate that he is aware he is doing so. He points out why he needs to do so:
to distinguish the kind of story that has actors and a sequence of events that
reach a conclusion or abbreviation point from the kind of story that we expect
to continue to unfold in an ongoing way, drawing people in to dynamically
participate in its unfolding, and drawing us into the future with shared
context. He is also indicating that as he defines them, narratives (can) have a
moral or ethical (or values-based, meaning-generating) function.
Anyway, I think it thought-provoking and worth drawing on, since
architecture sets context for participation in unfolding development.
This 2 minute video from Nokia on ☼Conceptual
Design makes great points about sketching in ideation and conceptual
Yes, that's product concept design, and there are two points of
we strongly advocate the involvement (if not leadership) of the
architect in product/system conceptualization
conceptual architecture (or more formally, the conceptual views of the
architecture) is analogous, in that it begins by exploring the shape of the
system, and shaping structural concepts (key elements, relationships and
Many definitions of software architecture focus on structurally significant
elements and relationships. It is often implied more than stated, so for clarity
we will add that this includes the design of key mechanisms enabling system
capabilities with desired properties (i.e., addressing cross-cutting concerns).
That is, our definitions typically focus on the "built right" side of
"right system built right." That is all very well, but then we need to be
careful about how we charter architects. If we want architects to make the
contribution that is needed to get to
"right system built right," we need to involve architects in iterating between
system (capabilities -- function and properties) design and structural design
(where structural design takes into account and designs for dynamic behavior
that fits with the design tolerance envelope for the desired system properties).
"There can be no question that Loren
Eiseley maintains a place of eminence among nature writers. His extended
explorations of human life and mind, set against the backdrop of our own and
other universes are like those to be found in every book of nature writing
currently available... We now routinely expect our nature writers to leap across
the chasm between science, natural history, and poetry with grace and ease.
Eiseley made the leap at a time when science was science, and literature was,
well, literature... His writing delivered science to nonscientists in the
lyrical language of earthly metaphor, irony, simile, and narrative, all paced
like a good mystery." -- wikipedia
Ok, so I confess, one of those architect competency frameworks is ours [smile] -- this one (extensively described, though tailored to enterprise architects,
in this executive
report published by Cutter in 2004). In 1999, Dana (with some input from me)
created the core framework on a consulting gig with a management team, helping
them understand how to support and enable architects in their organization. So
ours was among, if not the, first in the public space. (That model became
an organizing model for resources on the Bredemeyer site -- you can see the 1999
Architects Know and Do" page preserved on archive.org, along with the 1999 paper on the role of the architect, describing the framework.) Several clients
were excited by the competency model and participated in a study we conducted in
2002 that combined
questionnaires, a series of interviews and working sessions with architects and
managers across these businesses. It resulted in the competency elaborations
(linked from this page).
I believe (based on what I'm told) the framework has been quite influential and
When a field is young, it can be a challenge to articulate and advocate what
is new and different about it. In a world that is all ballyhoo about right now,
a role that is about structural integrity and sustainability* is a tough sell,
intellectually and emotionally demanding (in the IQ and EQ sense, but also
requiring passion and resilience), and in the firing line from many who think
they'd be more effective at the small piece of it they see. But architecting is
about the ongoing work across -- across the system, roles, organizational
entities, hierarchies, egos, da da da -- to surface, balance and prioritize, and
achieve strategic system outcomes. Hence, on stepping up to the architect plate,
it can be a surprise to find it is so much more than a technical role. To some,
it is more demanding in areas they have distaste for and the competency
framework is important because it highlights these areas. To others, passion and
the knowledge that big things can only be done with and through the engagement
of many people, gets them through the loss of some intimate time with Ruby, etc.
Anyway, The Essence of Being an Architect is a wonderful addition to the ongoing
conversation, helping to enrich our sense of what distinguishes the architect.
I really like:
"8.Know how to focus on what is
important and to ignore what is not. If you have not heard of Parkinson's
Law of Triviality take a look at it."
In The Essence, Peter Cripps used 7 of Seth Godin's points (listed here: What's high school for?), leaving room to
substitute some of his own. I can see that would have been challenging because I like
Peter's additions. That said, I think it is a pity he left off these two:
The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for
Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and
The two could be combined into one. But between the two, we cover a defining
raison d'être of the architect role -- balancing creating and seizing
opportunity with ensuring structural integrity that enables the system to
withstand dominant forces in operation and evolution and not sinking tomorrow under the avalanche
of today's haste-makes-waste, but rather finding a way to create leverage
without getting mired in (technical and more broadly opportunity) debt.
You might say, what we're about, is avoiding getting egg in the corporate
Well, I realized the other day that I was missing Peter Eeles on my blogroll.
I've mentioned his blog (thanks to Daniel Stroe), but forgot to add it to my
blogroll then and there and... here we are. So. I find another omission -- Peter Cripps. Right
then, who else am I missing?
5/26/11: Well, tornados did touch down but not on our side of town (phew). Still more trees down
all over town, and power outages are causing school closings.
We lost power last evening and I had to color Sara's hair blue with Kool-Aid by
flashlight... (the price of having a manga/anime imaginer in our midst). Fortunately they got to go to school (last day today) even though
their power is out.
Isn't it amazing how much damage air can do?! When chaos gets organized,
even air can form into such a force!
"an architecture is a conception of some
system of interest in the context of its environment."
My brain goes bleebdableebdableebda at that.... storms/tornado sirens last
night/perhaps I am just being slow witted tonight... Ok, let's strip off "of
interest" because it is superfluous for a given system and let's see what we
"an architecture is a conception of a
system in the context of its environment."
Now we have focused our conception on the "system in the context of its
environment" and while that is important in ways that
extant characterizations of system and software architecture generally gloss
over or eliminate from consideration, it does not carry any ready-to-mind notion
that these conceptions might also look within, to the structure of the system.
It also doesn't tell me what conceptions might not quality. I can think of
several... This "conception" notion is interesting, for it says the
architecture is a mental construct rather than inherent in the code or other
physical reality of the system. I suppose that if one abstracts away from
"the details" one is always dealing with a conception (or sets thereof), but
then have we done anything useful to say "architecture is a conception of a system"? Perhaps... I mean if we have
to say architecture is not the system, but a conception of the system... and we
might, in some circles, need that reminder. For example, in the case of an
emergent architecture we might say architecture is a conception of what has been
built, but then the salient question is "what is the nature of that conception?"
Merely characterizing it as a conception doesn't get us any distance beyond the
point that architecture isn't truth the code speaks in self-evident terms. One sentence characterizations are perniciously hard to craft satisfactorily.
Let's look at the somewhat more full-bodied attempt in the latest revision of
IEEE 1471 (section 3.2) (and in the FAQ):
architecture <system> fundamental
concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in
its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and
Valiant. But it also snarls up my mental cogs for it is dense. I push my understanding further by unpacking the sentence like this:
the architecture of a system [includes
concepts of the system in its environment
embodied in system elements
and relationships, and
embodied in the
principles of its design and evolution
the architecture of a system [includes the] fundamental
properties of the system in its environment
embodied in system elements
and relationships, and
embodied in the
principles of its design and evolution
I'm not sure if I would agree with the second... Is architecture the
properties of a system or is architecture what gives rise to system
properties? That is, are system properties the architecture or the
result of architecture (the intentional and accidental consequence of its
architecture)? If we assume the latter, that is, the result of architecture,
they are a design consideration. For example, do principles embody
properties, or articulate how properties come to be? Might we instead say
"the system has properties and the architecture (among other things)
articulates how those properties come to be"? The system also has
(essential/fundamental) capabilities and the architecture articulates how
those capabilities come to be, but our definitions tend gloss over this... In the spirit of (what is so exciting about) "architecture is a conception of a
system in the context of its environment", let's include consideration of the whole, and consideration of the capabilities
of the system within our notion of system elements. Well, let's back up a moment
and ask: Should
our definition of architecture include conception of the system in its context
(synthesis, in Ackoff terms) or be limited to conception of the system internals
(analysis)? This is a non-trivial
question. To see this, consider what it would include:
conception -- a reflection of
what is built or a characterization of design intent; system in its context -- considering the whole in its context, including
the system capabilities and properties and constraints and impact on the environment
and the environment's impact on it, etc., as well as the shaping design of its
structure and dynamics; conception of the system internals -- structural
design and mechanism design at various levels from conceptual to logical to
physical to deliver capabilities with desired properties.
Which gets me to this attempt:
the architecture of a system is its fundamental
concepts and principles
where what is
fundamental is [normatively established] relative to the system in
and across its various contexts, and
concepts include system elements (capabilities, structural elements,
mechanisms and more) and the relationships among them and with the
relate concepts (including elements and their interactions) to the
system capabilities they enable or to system properties they give
I suppose that is saying architecture is the fundamental structure of the
system (as viewed from the outside, in terms of the capabilities and properties
it provides in various contexts,
and from the inside, in terms of shaping structural concepts and
relationships) and its fundamental theory governing system integrity,
operation [of its mechanisms] and evolution. Wow. That's some distance
from what I think the 3.2 definition is saying, but I might like it... if I
don't think about it any more!!!! ;-)In our Architecture Decision Model,
Architecture Strategy articulates (or collects) principles, Conceptual
Architecture (or, more formally, the conceptual view of the architecture)
identifies, explicates, relates and motivates the fundamental concepts, and
(the) Logical (view of the) Architecture focuses on the design specification of
those elements, relationships and mechanisms. Etc. Of course, an architecture
decision model (or framework, in 1471 speak) guides architecture description.
We focused our Architecture Decision Model on the internal structure because we
were accepting extant definitions of software architecture. But we added the
Context and the Capabilities views or facets to the Visual Architecting
"framework" informally depicted here: Asde: in the body of the 1471 document, we have a much more understandable
characterization of system architecture:
The architecture of a system
constitutes what is essential about that system considered in relation to its
environment. There is no single characterization of what is essential or
fundamental to a system; that characterization could pertain to any or all of:
system constituents or elements
system elements are arranged or interrelated;
principles of the systems organization or design; and
principles governing the evolution of the system over its life cycle
"You've got a website loaded with practical
and very thoughtful direction for software and product design and development."
-- Bredemeyer mailing list sign-up, 5/27/11
I do like carrots. Should I take that as encouragement to finish Part II of
The Art of Change, or have you about had it on leadership and innovation
from me?You know, it's the report that goes along the lines of:
To lead is to see, to frame, to draw.
To lead is not to drive. Rather it is to enroll, inspire, invite, empower, so
the team is intrinsically driven by being involved in something meaningful and
urgent. To lead is to demand, but not to command--to align high aspirations that
demand unflagging commitment to giving of one's best and holding peers to a
design aesthetic while getting the job done.
lead is to see: to observe; to imagine; to see the human aspirations,
frustrations, desire; to find the opportunity.
lead is to frame: to craft the compelling message, the visual and verbal
rhetoric that helps others see; that positions what must be left behind and what
must be built in the minds and experience of women and men. To frame is also to
structure, without filling in the detail.
lead is to draw: to draw people in, to enroll them, to align their action,
to create a pull so that driving is not necessary. To draw, we literally draw in
pictures and words, and in doing so we draw out what is in the minds of
individuals, we draw on their experience and talent. We create a shared picture
Oh dear, that just sounds like so much yada yada. No wonder you're not
interested! Me neither!5/27/11 [Not] So SureI was very tempted to
MT [ @tastapod ] is now following you on Twitter #notsurehowifeelaboutthis < could happen
You see, I do know
how this works -- enough to jest, anyway.
And I do know how I'd
feel about that. Being on the radar of folk I really admire in our community
(you foremost of course) is downright daunting.
Hence, my wicked sense of humor is (mostly) confined to this Trace. Mostly
because there is no way anyone actually reads the words here. Is there?
It's almost time to turn a new leaf, so
to speak, in this journal. It's getting to the point where about as many people
return to this journalCurent page as there are first time visitors to it, so
I'll add a calendar navigator to the top of the page to make it easier to jump
down to most recent posts. Oh, it's still a quiet backwaters place. I just mean
since you're returning, I should make it easier on you.
Tides. Yes. We went
to hear/watch Pirate Flags tonight -- I'd characterize them as the band that has the most fun with hats on,
and its infectious! I see they characterize their music as folk
rock/fusion/roots but it has that distinctive pirate sound to it. ;-)
Arcs. Here is Kurt Vonnegut on story arcs.
5/28/11 Catfish? There was a flurry
of activity in the Memepool, raising our expectations. And then quiet. Ok look,
the "Tom Sawyer scarcity principle" has been used to good effect even by the
likes of Apple, but this is too much. Tick tick. We're waiting..
taken kayaking through the trees this morning.
The Brits get all the good TV. Well, I don't watch TV here (in the US) so I
actually have nothing to base that on. That said, anything that would tempt me
to watch TV is on BBC! :-) I read an interview with the creator of, and
have seen several reactions to, the first episode of the BB2 documentary All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. Peter Cripps
response is here: Ethics and Architecture. From it, I gather Adam Curtis is engaging us in an
important set of conversations. Grady Booch's keynote at IBM Impact (01:18:05 - 01:33:45) likewise.
Image: tonight's sunset -- across the tree tops, from the fire-tower in the
Charles Deam Wilderness
The Economics of the Industrial Revolution, Joel Mokyr
The Dragon Fly Effect: "Named
for the only insect that is able to move in any direction when its
four wings are working in concert. This book reveals the four
"wings" of the Dragonfly Effect-and how they work together to
produce colossal results."
of the fastest growing financial services in
Kenya right now is mobile payments. It grows
faster than the banks are growing. If you
connect that cell phone now to the internet, the
Kiva platform, then you can take a photo of
yourself in Kenya (you could be a Masai farmer)
and say, ‘I need 300 shilling, I’ve had 4 loans
on the Kiva website previously’. You can put
your photo up on the website and someone can
instantly (help you).
That’s where we’re going.
Total dis-intermediation on mobile devices."
"in the uncharted waters of futurity, it's
the map that makes the territory." -- Peter Morville, Ubiquitous Service Design, April 19, 2010
Isn't it? "The map makes the territory!" That's an inspired twist!
Brilliant! We make the future. To invent the future, we map it. We map our
projections and conceptions, we create designs, we experiment and adapt them
into being. So our maps are only abstractions. But they are abstractions in the
sense of art, in the sense that they represent the essence. This, from the same post by Peter Morville, is interesting:
"Mike Kuniavsky posits that the era
of ubiquitous computing started in 2005 with the iPod Shuffle, the iRobot Roomba,
and the Adidas 1 shoe. Back then, nobody foresaw plants that tweet, but we knew
things were about to get weird as this passage in Ambient Findability shows:
fascination with this future present dwells at the crossroads of ubiquitous
computing and the Internet. We're creating new interfaces to export networked
information while simultaneously importing vast amounts of data about the real
world into our networks. Familiar boundaries blur in this great intertwingling.
Toilets sprout sensors. Objects consume their own metadata. Ambient devices,
findable objects, tangible bits, wearables, implants, and ingestibles are just
some of the strange mutations residing in this borderlands of atoms and bits.
Several years later, and this vision still feels right. We're increasingly
surrounded by smart things, but it's not their intelligence that's interesting.
While the world waits for Web 3.0 and The Singularity, the real action has
already begun. It's called the intertwingularity.
It's an era in which information blurs the
boundaries, enabling multi-channel, cross-platform, trans-media, physico-digital
And the paper on Rethinking Value by Reon Brand and Simona
Rocchi is wonderful and a great companion read.
Thanks to Kris Meukens for the heads-up on that
paper from Philips Design. Oh, take note of Reon
Brand's title -- Senior Director of Foresight! I love it!!And thanks to
Peter Bakker for the heads-up on Peter Morville's article.
"To succeed, we'll need teams that are
multi-disciplinary and individuals who can help us think visually." -- Peter Morville, Ubiquitous Service Design, April 19, 2010
And we'll need people who generously connect us to salient information and to
each other. So many people still live in the age of competitive
protectionism, rather than with interest focused on the community, serving the
community. We aren't hunting bison any more...
Well, we're still hunting. And charting new territories.
Invading. Imperializing. And we're still gathering, not exactly mushrooms and
roots, but something analogous perhaps?So, I collected up a selection of
brain treats for you. Here they are, in no specific order:
I'm thinking of sending an entry to Stuff
No-One Told Me (SNOTM) 1-year anniversary celebration competition. I
have some ideas too, because there's lots of stuff no-one ever told me. You
know -- like "Your Trace is great!" or "I love your ... Trace" or even "I
think you're pretty." Oh, you, I'm just yanking your chain, falling
right into the box you keep me in. ;-)Yanking your chain... Uh... Um...
along the lines of SNOTM... No-one told me that that is a reference to chain
pull toilets of old. Even I grew up with handle-pull toilets so I never put
that together until we stayed in a cottage in Ireland with one of those early flush toilets -- chain-pull.
So no offense ok? I also grew up with the expression "don't be such a dog in
the manger" -- Dana asked what it means and I said "selfish, holding
something to yourself, and especially if you can't use it (all) yourself."
Then it hit me -- a dog doesn't eat hay, so if a dog is in a manger it is
preventing those who do eat hay from doing so. Funny how we can do something
that others do, without questioning what it is. We have entered an age of
hyperbolic expansion of dimensions of our humanity -- we can magnify our
generosity and kindness, and we can magnify our evil (or just... recklessness?). One person's petty small-minded stereotyping
conception of gender or race or nationality or age or weight can, because it
is packaged up in a useful talk, get bounced about the Twitter- and
blog-verse... So one idea I had is along the lines of "We are what we think." That'd be
fun to draw! But it wouldn't be what you think. ;-)Pushing the box... I
like @MattFlannery's icon
The four boxes
of competence in a "polycentric innovation model" are given as:
Inventors. Inventors are
engineers, scientists, or entrepreneurs who come up with an original
Transformers. Transformers, who are capable of
mingling tech-savvy with business acumen, grab inventions from anywhere
and transform them into market-valued products and services.
Financiers. Financiers, who excel in spotting
growth opportunities worldwide, fund internal and external invention and
Connectors. Connectors are the matchmakers
with a multicultural background and a global mindset who can bring
Inventors, Transformers, and Financiers together and facilitate their
interactions. They use their exceptional interpersonal skills to link
domestic and international technical talent with global market
Have you still not read The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent,
2010? [Mischievous grin. Let May be known as irritating
self-promotion month. Well, if you make the mistake of reading my
journal, that is... ;-) Looking at The War of Art -- because Kent
Beck tweeted its utility, I had to check it out -- I read that creatives
have a tendency to self-destruct their work. So naturally I either crash
my Trace or self-promote hyperbolically, in either case a
self-destructive move. ;-) Hyperbolically? Well, you know, hyperbole
taken to extremes...]
Bill Allen contends that one of just five activities that should be
conducted at the top of a diverse conglomerate is: "synergy capture
(for very large opportunities that cross the businesses)."
Connecting and facilitating interactions.
capture. Still wondering if enterprise architects have a role to play?
Hmpf! Have you still not read The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent?
Etc. ;-) Ah, synergy capture. That could be put better. I don't like the
capture word. Nor the war word. But The Art of War is the only
book that stays permanently on my desk, as a reminder of my need to
reframe. So much that is useful to us comes when we reframe what raises
discomfort (or stronger reactions). Useful analogies may come to us in
forms that take little effort to apply to a new context, while others
may need a more conscious effort at translation. (I suppose that is a
kind of "synergy capture.")
As synergies go:
"One finding was that autonomous
silos are simply no longer viable. [...] The surprising finding was that
the solution — with exceptions linked to crisis situations — was not
centralization and standardization, which too often led to either
ineffective efforts or a total flame-out. The solution, rather, is much
more likely to be based on replacing competition and isolation with
collaboration and communication between silos."
Now, with respect to synergies, there's seeing patterns, and some
of these patterns are only apparent when we step back -- look more
dispassionately, yes that. But taking in a larger field of view, looking
across "silos", that too. Enterprise architects make connections and
facilitate the making thereof.
Choices canalize. Because they create a ground of
expectation. And constraint.
We think software is so malleable because, well, code is easy to
change. But software? Hm. Yes, the malleability of software is generally
a fallacy for two reasons -- the malleability of code gets us into
trouble, for our trial-by-kludge approach creates an inter-dare-I-say-it-twingulated
hairball and what we have in place sets us plonk down in the middle of a bunch of cognitive biases that make it humanly hard to change.
Malleable doesn't mean fungible, unless we really work at making it
"Creating true objectivity —
whether in managerial or organizational decisions — requires eliminating
the conflicts of interest that bias judgments." -- Max H. Bazerman
and Ann E. Tenbrunsel, A Lesson from Warren Buffet about Ethical Blind
Spots , May 31, 2011
Nick Malik asks if "IT-business
alignment" has hit the "trough of disillusionment" in the hype
curve. Is it just a "so-yesterday" notion and are CIOs looking for
the next round of inspiration?
If so, is the answer to take internal competency and productize
or sell it "as-a-service," as Amazon did with EC2, as Google is
doing with Google Test Analytics, as your friendly insurance company
could do with BI and business analytics? Does eating your own
dog-food make you a good vendor for dog-food? Perhaps. But there's a
whole lot more to creating dog-food "ecosystems" or "value networks"
than simply having something that works well for your business.
Still, it is a way to make what the internal folk are doing "sexy"
and for them to work their way out of the shadows into
revenue-stream limelight -- and... satisfying direct customers.
When I was growing up, my father had a smallholding and grew
organic vegetables. This was before organic was a "thing" but for my
dad it was a matter of conscience or principle. So he grew fields of
a single crop, rotating crops and so forth, practicing his beliefs
about all-natural farming. My mother would get frustrated that she'd
have to buy vegetables for the dinner table, because we couldn't eat
only the one he was harvesting at the time. Looking back, he was so
focused on growing an organic crop that he wasn't making sure his
own family ate (a balanced slate of) organic veges! [Hey, I
read that the building architecture* analogy was wrong for software,
and that gardening is a better analogy... So, wow, it works. ;-) Uh, and
the point of that story is...? Yep, it underscores Nick's point that "If
IT moves to be revenue focused, I am concerned that IT can lose
sight of 80% of its’ value: keeping the lights on for the parts of
the business that traditionally make money."
An alternative is to ask if leading companies have moved past
IT-business alignment to a full partnership where the alignment
piece is passé and the partnership fully enables (fractal and
emergent) strategy. The eye roll, then, could be at the insult in
the implication that IT is misaligned with the business.
Nah. "Full partnership" isn't exactly full reality yet, now is
it? Keeping the lights on isn't so glam. Partly we do this to
ourselves. We take someone from "the business" and make them "the
Product Owner" so that "the business" is in the design driver's seat
and IT kowtows ... and nay-says. Not exactly the stuff of "full
this is the point at which Seth Godin's "Agency"
post should smack us in the face? Do we "keep the lights on" or are
we heads-deep in creating and sustaining advantage for the
revenue-earning part of our business? And are we a respected and
valued partner, bringing technology know-why to the strategic design
Or we should read The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent. Oh, goodness, I'm teasing! Mostly myself! But hey, if one more person reads The Art of Change, that
might just be the person who will want (and take the trouble to ask
for/encourage) the completion of Part II. What's that? I should
embrace my agency and just do it? Nice try! All right then, if you're still not convinced, then see how UPS is selling its logistics competency!
Logistics is sexy? Hell yeah! At least, in the case of UPS! We are the stories we tell ourselves. That path we start to head
down, that's our narrative! We tell the story of how we got to where we are,
what values that firmly plants in us, how it shapes our character and company
"backbone." And we tell the story of where we are headed and why it matters, how
it helps us overcome the threats that loom and how it will create meaning and
value as we step boldly onto the stepping stones we've laid into a future...
we'll build together. The stories we tell shape our self-image (which shapes our
actions), and others' view of us (which shapes their expectations and the
constraints they place on us). If we don't like their view, perhaps we need to
stories? Also related: Why is Enterprise Architecture failing?, Ian Hunter, May 31,
2011 6/1/11: * As the building architecture analogy goes, this article (via Peter
Bakker) is really interesting:
Building architects sound a lot like us when they say:
'As Christopher Alexander wrote
in his seminal book, Notes on the Synthesis of Form, published in 1964: “A
design problem is not an optimization problem.” Design is a problem of
'Despite the GSA's Charles Hardy
broadcast of the now famous, “BIM is about 10% technology and 90%
sociology,” ninety percent of what has been written, analyzed and studied
about BIM so far is the technology. While the 10% technology works itself
out, we would as an industry do well to turn our attention toward the 90%
that we share, the sociology of Integrated Design. ...
The ideal synthesis—of design and
construction, BIM and Integrated Design—will allow for
BIM’s inherent complexity
complexity of construction process
design profession’s discomfort with addressing means and methods
constructor’s discomfort with addressing design intent,
technology to work hand-in-hand with sociology"
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
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