Architecture Anti-Patterns: Pattern #6 – Architecture Thinking Not Doing

Anti-Pattern Name: Architecture Thinking Not Doing
General Form:
An organisation or enterprise embarks on an initiative to retrain their designers and developers to be ‘architects’. They set up education classes, assign new roles to their people with the word ‘architect’ in their job title and may even pay them some more money to match their ‘elevated’ status. However after a period of time (could be 6 months, could be longer) the initiative dies, developers just keep developing, designers just keep designing and no true system architectures materialise.
Symptoms and Consequences:

  • People return from training but make no changes to their behaviour. They revert to whatever it was they were doing previously.
  • The person(s) responsible for the initiative move on and as it was “their baby” the initiative dies.
  • Management think that training is sufficient and that once students have been trained they will “know what to do differently”.
  • People want to put into practice what they have learnt but have no idea where to go for help or guidance.

Refactored Solution:

  • Architecture thinking has to be turned into architecture doing. Follow up training with projects which make immediate use of new skills.
  • Identify early on who the real leaders are and get them to mentor others.
  • Obtain a critical mass of core people who will continue to develop their skills and be advocates of the new approach even once the initial hype has died down.
  • Ensure the initiative to train architects has support from the highest (i.e. CxO) level of the organisation.
  • Get buy-in from the business as well as IT. Convince the business of the need for architecture by showing them time to market and quality will improve and their will be less maintenance costs.
  • If the organisation is immature but keen to learn ‘buy-in’ experience either by hiring experienced people or working with good technical consultancies who have a proven track record (or some mix of both).
  • Follow up training with good quality, written down guidance (including guidelines, examples and templates) which is readily available and easily found (preferably in the companies website).
  • As part of the training get a written-down commitment from each student that describes one thing they will do differently as a result of attending this training. Follow this up and see if they did it. If not find out why not.

See Pattern #5

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