Showing posts from August, 2009

Conway's law

Conway's law: "Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations."

Constantin K.
Firebrand Architect®

Take control

Being a firebrand architect at times requires assuming control of a situation even if you are not the primary owner of a project or an initiative. It often means taking on more responsibility than you expect just so that you can do your job later.

Imagine a coordination teleconference between twenty people from over a dozen different IT and business functions. The objective is simple: move a server from one domain onto another without breaking the existing solution on that server. Everyone on the call plays a role and an agenda unifies the participants for the duration of an hour. However no progress takes place - the current executive owner of the server gave a green light for migration as long as his technical team is comfortable. Yet the technical team (two developers) lack the enterprise wide knowledge to fully explain what services, data, and support they need and how their solution has been setup. In this case a COTS based application reaches out to various data sources and allow…


Whether we want it or not, we, as software (solution) architects have to specialize in a bounded business domain and a bounded array of technologies. The required depth of knowledge depends on the type of architecture work you do.

While finding the "golden balance" is an obvious observation, a helpful reminder for you is to review your "golden balance" once every quarter and don't be afraid to re-define what you mean by your balance. It's natural for people to change - some become more specialized and technical, others pull up and specialize in a macro view. If you move a lot between low level and high level architecture you'll experience "turbulence" - and that may be OK if that's how you define your balance.

Constantin K.
Firebrand Architect®

Microsoft Technology Center in Silicon Valley

Having worked for two startups I was not surprised to see glass enclosed server room positioned prominently to the side of the main work area. After all this a customer centric facility where select Microsoft customers are invited to spend time with the best and the brightest Microsoft hands-on technologists.

But it was not the stacks of the latest hardware with its neatly tucked cables in dust free racks that impressed me. Not even the myriad gizmos such as a touch screen HP's desktop and a Microsoft Surface. What impressed me are the people who worked at the Microsoft Technology Center in Silicon Valley on my recent trip in July 2009.

For the duration of the weeklong stay the hosts ensured that all our activities stayed within the scope of the business problem we defined on day one. And that's the key. The hosts took time to understand the business and concrete problems in the context of an end-to-end scenario. They adapted quickly to our team's terminology and collecti…

Seeing The Big Picture

In any organization - large or small - we make assumptions about new people who join a project or an initiative. First impressions matter, and while first bad impressions can be reversed over time, it's better to start on the right foot. While this is not news to you, it's important to remember this. This is especially important for a person who aims to act like a Firebrand Architect® since such behavior and action may be perceived as negative and derailing.

This set of reminders may help you:
- Listen to understand
- Understand the other person's point of view
- Learn what others are doing and why - conduct preliminary independent research
- Understand different roles colleagues play. Then understand your role
- Ask intelligent questions - advance conversation with your questions
- Speak slowly - this will allow you to formulate your ideas more clearly
- When replying pause to allow others to respond before switching topics. If you hear (or feel) that others are trying to speak w…