Architecture is simple

What is architecture? What do we do in architecture? And how do we do it?

Turns out that it’s essentially the same for every kind of architecture: enterprise-architecture, solutions-architecture, software-architecture, building-architecture, naval-architecture, brand-architecture, whatever.

Right down at the root, in principle, architecture is incredibly simple. It all comes down to just one idea, one aim: that things work better when everything works together, on purpose.

Right down at the root, in practice, architecture is incredibly hard. It all comes down to just one aim, one requirement, that everything works together with everything else, on purpose.

Efficient; reliable; elegant; integrated; on purpose. That’s what architecture is all about.

Not just for some things, though, but all things – everything, over all of the scopes and scales and timescales and content and contexts that might be required, on time, on budget, and on purpose. And that there is some kind of shared-purpose around which everything and everyone can work together, on time, on budget, and on purpose.

What we end up with should be simple – or as simple as possible and practicable, anyway. But we often have to go through a lot of complexity before we arrive at that simplicity. People, processes, politics and petty feuds, technology, temper-tantrums, structure, story, hopes, fears, wishful-thinking, delusions, disasters, doubts, debt-collectors, nightmares of logic and logistics, lost-in-translation tangles, things that just don’t work, things that do work in surprising ways, and maybe a little bit of magic, too: successful architecture covers and copes with all of that, and more.

So architecture is simple. But it ain’t easy – in fact it’s often just about as far from easy as it’s possible to get.

Simple ain’t the same as easy.

[Inspired by a brilliant Tweet this morning from Oliver Baier: “Trademarking ‘SODA’: snake-oil driven architecture. Stay tuned. Certification scheme coming soon.”]

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