Scaling Architecture Conversationally clearly and concisely explains how and why architecture is more of a facilitated process than a top-down decision process.
The article isn’t a long read and is available here.
I won’t make its points better or faster than it. Instead I’ll make a few connections then highlight some quotes from the article that might motivate you to read it.
First off, this article connected my thoughts on architecture to some of my more general readings on facilitating creative work. For example, Dare to Lead and Meetings Are the Work talk about how command and control leadership structures don’t work effectively for knowledge work. Knowledge work is inherently messy and requires diverse inputs. Often times the ones closest to the work are the ones best equipped to make new connections and make the most effective decisions.
Second, I realized that my Five Foundational Beliefs post is essentially an architectural principle list. It attempts to explain what mindsets guide my choices between competing options in a minimal set of memorable ideas.
Now for the quotes
I’ll be honest, “traditional” approaches to software architecture (i.e. non-coding, decision-taking, diagram-drawing) are hard for me to make work at the best of times. …I’ve repeatedly found myself faced with an impossible task: to be everywhere, tolerating significant contextual variance, and blocking no-one.
“it is the developer’s assumptions which get shipped to production” and he’s right; it’s primarily what a developer understands about a target architecture that matters, not what is in the head or diagrams of a lead architect.
for any architectural principle to be successful, teams which deliver against them need to feel a sense of ownership over it.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that, once you empower people, giving them an environment in which to succeed, and recognize their successes, they will rapidly, and as a collective, start thinking about things which haven’t even crossed your mind. That’s the real benefit of this kind of approach: access to the collective intelligence of the many, over reliance on the much more restricted intelligence of the few.