Enterprise Architects should just get over being precious about software

Software is the fabric of the information age. It is eating the machine age. In the end it might even eat itself!  Software is so successful, so pervasive, so adaptable that code, and the ability to code,  are devaluing. Software is the commodity of our age and software development the occupation of the new working class.

Enterprise Architects should just get over being precious about software… and architecture, enterprise architecture, strategic planning etc.   

Architecture is a metaphor that had relevance when software could be funded and managed like other capital investments.  Software — unlike concrete, the fabric of capital investments — never ‘sets’.  It is mostly open and freely shared.  Software to do just about anything is a few clicks away for everyone with an internet connection.

Software never goes to the presses, to be set in hot metal, to be printed on paper, for all time.  When software made large capital investments, Architects were needed to do the ‘town planning’, quality assurance and gate-keeping.  Because software was an expensive, proprietary commodity. 

Software written today is not quite the same as the software of the big capital projects era.  It manipulates components, in frameworks, on platforms, and is just disciplined, structured writing.  Like poets, we try hard to write less of it, not more.  We no longer measure our worth by ‘Lines of Code per Day’. And if we throw bits away from time to time, we dont fret. Like all good writers, we should be prepared to ‘Kill our Darlings’.

Now that software is a commodity — open, and everywhere, people formerly known as ‘Architects’ (Enterprise or other kinds) have a new role.
Enterprise Architects should support Agilists to deliver services at a rapid rate. The Agilists will accumulate a bit of technical debt in the process. But relentless business demand and change will preserve the Agile capability. Paying down the kind of technical debt that matters will happen.

Enterprise Architects should work out how to influence the demand side (The Business) to drive Agile delivery capabilities to deliver outcomes for clients and customers first.  Then indirect customer benefits second (such as business efficiency).

Technical debt minimization is important but it is not Enterprise Architecture’s raison d’être .

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‘Nounification’ catches up with Systems Thinking

It seems that certain verbs are becoming nouns, for no particular reason that I can see based in grammar, semantics or the logic of language.  This appears to be a recent phenomena, and in a few cases, nounification has propelled these lucky  innocuous verbs into the noun stratosphere.  The first is the innocent little doer-word ‘reveal’.

reveal1
rɪˈviːl/
verb
1.
make (previously unknown or secret information) known to others.

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Designing in the post-consumer age

Christmas is coming, again.  Last year, Australians reportedly spent $A32B at an average of $A1,200 per person during the silly season.  Nearly twenty million of these gifts with a value of around $A1B were unwanted and were sold, re-gifted, stored or dumped.  For myself, a distinctive marker of post-consumerism came when a ten year-old family member declared a few weeks out from Christmas that he didn’t know what to ask for this year because he couldn’t think of anything he particularly wanted. It seems that between Christmas, birthdays, special days and rewards for good behavior the number of buying opportunities outstrips some family member’s needs or even desires.  So it seems we are now living in an age of post-consumerism, even for ten year-olds.  We are beyond some western models of growth, in uncharted territory.

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A Systemic Perspective to Managing Complexity with Enterprise Architecture

ASystemicPerspectivetoManagingComplexitywithEnterpriseArchitecture-coverPallab Saha’s book on systemic perspectives for managing complexity with enterprise architecture is now officially published by IGI Global.  I have written Chapter 13, ‘Enterprise Architecture’s Identity Crisis: New Approaches to Complexity for a Maturing Discipline’.  The 18 month process was a reminder of the creation cycle times for this type of content. It seems that social media’s immediacy has done little to escalate the pace or compress the effort of producing a traditional academic work of 26 authors.

When I first started collecting thoughts and materials on what I began to understand as enterprise architecture’sidentity crisis’, I was reacting to my perception that IT-centric EA was increasingly facing a crisis of relevance. My experience of the unrealised promise of EA led me to think and discuss questions of theory, practice and purpose. ‘Identity crisis’ seemed an appropriate metaphor for the challenges facing enterprise architecture.

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Can Systems Thinking help to solve problems like people smuggling?

Children overbaord.

Children overboard.

Political, social and economic problems amenable to the application of ‘systems thinking‘ are all around us. Take the Australian Prime Minister’s latest solution to the seemingly insoluble ‘boat people’ dilemma.  ‘Boat people’ are refugees fleeing central or south east Asia who make their way to Indonesia, purchase passage from a ‘people smuggler’ to Australia on a leaky boat, only to find that the tub starts to take water somewhere near Christmas Island. What typically plays out next is a media-driven frenzy of political posturing and talk-back vitriol, while the Australian Navy scoops up the survivors and deposits them in a remote detention centre.

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The new patriotism of making

Craftsmanship, quality, integrity, locality, and the importance of ‘the story’.

When times are tough, the tough get making. So claimed none other than Clint Eastwood in his Superbowl half-time pitch for Chrysler. In a voice so gravelly it sounds like a cracked gearbox that lost its last drop of oil 100 miles back, Eastwood parables the Detroit story — once great, KO’d by globalism and cheap offshore labour, now revived after transfusions of foreign (Italian) money and a new US consumer patriotism fueled by signs of life in Motown’s once mighty corpse.

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Designing clinical spaces with ‘co-creation’

Co-creation.

Participatory design methods (co-creation) have been around for a while, but it’s been a while since a co-creation story as practical as the one told by Liz Sanders  has been told.

Liz Sanders explains ‘co-creation at scale’.

Her employers, architecture firm NBBJ talk of bringing a ‘human-centred approach to architecture and planning’.  That’s relatively progressive coming from a firm of architects.

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