37 Things As the digital economy changes the rules of the game for enterprises and their IT, the role of architects also fundamentally changes. Having been virtually declared obsolete just a few years ago in the wake of agile methods, architecture is more critical than ever in the context of digital transformation. It’s a different kind of architecture, though: rather than focussing on technical decisions alone, architects need to combine organizational and technical knowledge to effect change in the organization’s structure and processes along with the technical platform. They ride the Architect Elevator to connect the penthouse, where the business strategy is defined, and the engine room, where the enabling technology is implemented.

Packed with anecdotes from real-life IT transformation, this book prepares IT leaders, architects, and lead developers for a more rewarding, but also more complex role in the enterprise that spans all the way from the penthouse to the engine room and answers questions like: What’s expected of architects up in the penthouse? How to get there in the first place? What’s to be done at the individual floors? And how does one get back down?

The book is structured into five primary sections that reflect on the role of architects and architecture, show how to communicate effectively at different levels, and investigates complex organizational dynamics in order to drive lasting change:

Architects - The role and qualities of an architect
The Architect Elevator Connecting the penthouse with the engine room is a great way for an architect to bring value.
Movie Star Architects Enterprise architects have different personas. The magic is in the right mix.
Enterprise Architect or Architect in the Enterprise? Enterprise architecture is about using fancy tools, but about connecting business and IT.
An Architect Stands on Three Legs Great architects combine skill, impact, and leadership.
Making Decisions Humans are horrible decision makers. Models, no matter how simple, help us increase decision discipline. And ironically, often the best architecture decision is the one you can defer!
Question Everything Asking questions is a key skill for any architect as it reveals hidden assumptions.
Architecture - Making decisions at enterprise scale
Your Coffee Shop Doesn’t Use 2-Phase Commit You can learn a lof about large-scale system architecture from observing the real world, even while waiting for a coffee.
Is this Architecture? Deciding what makes architecture isn’t easy. One test to apply is to check whether a diagram or a document contains non-trivial decisions.
Every System is Perfect… Understanding complex system dynamics is a key skill for architects. Be warned, though: there are no easy shortcuts!
Code Fear Not! Configuration is programming in a poorly designed language without tool support and testing. And that’s as dangerous as it sounds.
If You Never Kill Anything, You Will Live Among Zombies Stuff that you don’t kill (or retire) will eat your brains.
The IT World is Flat Vendors’ view of the IT world is bound to be biased. Make sure you develop your own view so can see whether the two align.
Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job Automate Everything. What you can’t automate, make a self-service.
If Software Eats the World, Better Use Version Control! As your infrastructure becomes software-defined, you need to think and act like a software developer.
Communication - Conveying complex topics to diverse stakeholders
Explaining Stuff You can convey complex topics as long as you build a smooth ramp for the reader.
Writing for Busy People Make your documents navigable so readers can get value even if they don’t read everything.
Emphasis over Completeness Highlight the essence of the system you are describing as opposed to trying to document reality.
Show the Kids the Pirate Ship! Don’t just show the parts, but excite your audience with the purpose of your system.
Sketching Bank Robbers Having knowledge of a system and being able to articulate it are two different skills.
Diagram-driven Design Drawing a good picture will help you be a better architect.
Drawing the Line Be cautious if someone shows you an architecture picture without lines.
Organizations - Understanding organizational structures and systems
Control is an Illusion Real control is based on feedback loops, not on people telling you what you want to hear.
They don’t build’em quite like that anymore IT’s love of pyramid structures is outdated by about 4000 years.
Black Markets Are Not Efficient You can only get things done if you know the right person so talk to? It’s likely that your organization is runnign a black market, and that’s rarely a good thing.
Scaling an Organization Organizational systems behave much like technical systems. And synchronization points are the ultimate throughput killer.
Slow Chaos is not Order Going fast requires discipline and going slow isn’t a substitute for it.
Governance Through Inception Shaping and implementing a roadmap can be a very effective way to govern.
Transformation - Effecting change
No Pain, no Change! Wishful thinking will not trigger a transformation.
Leading Change Speeding things up is hard if everyone moves in a foot deep of mud.
Economies of Speed Much of IT is optimized for economies of scale, which largely have been replaced by economies of speed. That transition is a difficult one.
The Infinite Loop Changing your organization to work in smaller iterations and continuously improve.
You can’t fake IT If you want to serve digital customers, your organization also has to become digital on the inside.
Money can’t buy Love Good people are difficult to find. But you can’t solve that problem with money alone.
Who Likes Standing in Line? Driving up utilization may look more efficient, but it will drive wait times to infinite.
Thinking in Four Dimensions Transformation requires you to see that many things don’t have to be opposites of each other.
Architecting IT Transformation
All I Have to Offer Is the Truth Life on the “digital side” isn’t always easy. Nor is the path there.


You can order the book in two formats: