Bring Me Problems, Not Solutions

“Bring me solutions, not problems” is a phrase that the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was, apparently, fond of using. As I’ve pointed out before the role of the architect is to “take existing components and assemble them in interesting and important ways“. For the architect then, who wants to assemble components in interesting ways, problems are what are needed, not solutions – without problems to solve we have no job to do. Indeed problem solving is what entrepreneurship is all about and the ability to properly define the problem in the first place therefore becomes key to solving the problem.Fundamentally the architect asks:

  1. What is the problem I am trying to solve?
  2. What solution can I construct that would address that problem?
  3. What technology (if any) should I apply in implementing that solution?

This approach is summed up in the following picture, a sort of meta-architecture process.

The key thing here of course is the effective use of technology. Sometimes that means not using technology at all because a manual system is equally (cost) effective. One thing that architects should avoid at all costs is to become over enthusiastic about using too much of the wrong kind of technology. Adopting a sound architectural process, following well understood architectural principles and using what other have done before, that is applying architectural patterns, are ways to ensure we don’t leap to a solution built on potentially the wrong technology, too quickly.

For architects then, who are looking for their next interesting challenge, the cry should be “bring me problems, not solutions”.

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