I’ve been giving this an in-ordinate amount of thought lately, and for those of you who don’t know me, it is because I finished up at my last job in April (lead enterprise architect at a UK television company), and fulfilled a life long dream of jumping on my motorbike and travelling off around Spain for a few months practising my Spanish (see photo to the right). Needless to say, while travelling I didn’t give this question a single moments thought, but when I have returned, and have had to start considering what I do next … now this question is really bugging me!
Ok – let’s start with why I became interested in being an ‘Architect’ (used in the purely information technology sense) many years ago:
- They were the person on the project who knew more about the overall problem, and more importantly, the solution, than anyone else.
- They needed to understand and be able to communicate both the solution and how to get there – upwards to the stakeholder, around to other team members.
- They needed to make difficult choices – what tools, what technology, which people?
- They need to deeply understand good project management practices – what use designing a solution if you can’t get anyone to implement it?
- They need to understand estimating, financials etc. – because if you can’t articulate the cost of one solution vs another you will never win an argument.
I could say more, but I think these are the specific things I thought an architect must be able to do, and are all things that attracted me to wanting to be one some day.
Now, my problem. I’ve been called numerous times in the past couple of weeks by people who have seen my CV, and who want to talk about me applying for a job as an Architect: Chief Architect, Enterprise Architect, Enterprise Data Architect, Solution Architect, Technical Architect, Applications Architect etc. etc. and they all seem to have quite rigid definitions of what these things are, which all seem to go against all of my (hard earned I think!) understanding of what makes a good architect.
So, as I re-read the Agile and SOA Manifesto’s the other day, I thought that I would have a go at writing a quick and simple Architect Manifesto to explain what I think is most important for an architect, and what I have always looked for first and foremost when adding new architects to my team or projects.
The Architects Manifesto:
- Collaborative over rigid hierarchy and formality
- Flexible over rigid adherence to frameworks
- Business oriented over technology driven
- Simplicity over complexity
- Open over closed
- Grounded over blue sky
- Technology agnostic rather than technology bound
- The whole picture over just some of its parts
- Bears with fur over shaved bears (link)
Would appreciate your thoughts or comments!
I guess the thing that is grating on me at the moment, is that there are a lot of people out there looking for ‘architects’ when actually what they are looking for is just a senior developer who can actually talk to your stakeholders. Yes, it’s important for an architect to be able to get their hands dirty, but to get the most value out of having one they should be looking at the bigger picture, 2-3 steps ahead of the people writing the code – not writing any code themselves (unless it’s an emergency!).
Don’t get me started on how many people these days are asking for (or calling themselves) Enterprise Architects, when the reality is that all they want is a software architect who can operate in big ‘Corporate IT’ environments. Maybe I’ll save that for another post next week!
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