Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Architects need to improve their written communication skills

Effective written communication skills are essential for every software architect. Expressing your ideas clearly, tersely, and effectively is paramount. If your audience does not fully understands your vision or design, then you’ll have to build (and probably fund) the system yourself. It is your responsibility, as the architect, to ensure that your readers understand your ideas.

Written communication is important, because that’s the only effective way to communicate with a large number of people who may be geographically distributed across the world in different time zones. A single software architecture design package is often the source of reference for hundreds of people on a large scale system or a system of systems.

The international software engineering community recognizes English language is the standard language for cross cultural communication. Therefore it is paramount for any software architect to improve their skill set of the written English. Improving written English is probably even more important than improving oral English.

There might be many guidebooks for improving your writing, but my colleague and scholar of the English language recommended only one book: “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk. The book has been in print for a few decades. It is available in the original edition, the illustrated hard cover edition (my copy), and the fourth edition. The content is about the same across all of the editions. This book is a definitive reference guide for an everyday writer. The book has no prerequisites and can (and should) be used by every technical person. After using this book you will notice that your ideas are shaped more clearly and your sentences are easier to understand. This book belongs on your technical books bookshelf.

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