Oliver Baier on architecture-practice

I’m hugely grateful to Oliver Baier for the following Twitter-thread, which he posted on Christmas Day:

  1. A few things clicked for me in the last few days: Once again I’ve been struggling with my professional practice. Do I even have one?
  2. Is there any discipline to it? Any process worth speaking of? Borrowing the term from somewhere else, is my practice deliberate?
  3. Plenty of doubt. Interesting, considering that on most days I don’t feel I’m affected by imposter syndrome. Fooling myself, apparently.
  4. Turning to the classics provides some comfort. In this case, Vitruvius: https://twitter.com/OliverBaier/status/945246617803939840/photo/1
  5. It’s clear I need to read more classics. That’s pretty bad for my to-read stack, and also detracts somewhat from last tweet’s comfort.
  6. Tom Graves’ (@tetradian) blog series “Towards a whole-enterprise architecture standard” helped tremendously.
  7. Here’s the summary: http://weblog.tetradian.com/2016/06/06/towards-a-whole-enterprise-architecture-standard-summary/ #entarch @tetradian
  8. Here’s a “worked example” with links to all the parts in the series: http://weblog.tetradian.com/2016/06/01/towards-a-whole-enterprise-architecture-standard-worked-example/ #entarch
  9. The Five Elements meta-framework works for me as the centrepiece of it all.
  10. There’s a variation for use in after-action reviews (search for “xAAR” in the worked example).
  11. There’s another variation for defining and assessing effectiveness: http://weblog.tetradian.com/2015/05/28/effective-about-effectiveness/
  12. Five Elements is fractal, so you can apply it on different levels of recursion, e.g. within “preparation” and “process”.
  13. On one level it can be mapped to design processes. @tetradian uses The Squiggle as an example.
  14. But I think we can also employ a design process within the “process” element, for example.
  15. On one level, design & delivery processes can be viewed as orthogonal to this meta framework.
  16. In this context, @tetradian’s “layers of abstractions” are highly useful (“For architecture-scope…” in http://weblog.tetradian.com/2016/04/25/towards-a-whole-enterprise-architecture-standard-2-core/ )
  17. They give structure to my discovery & design work (I use a slightly modified version), although they are not design process.
  18. I move between them, zoom in and out (note that this is a fractal model) all the time, very much in a The Squiggle like manner.
  19. Tom writes: “…as is quite typical for whole-enterprise architecture, the real work here is *mostly about engaging with people*…”
  20. Source for /19: http://weblog.tetradian.com/2016/06/01/towards-a-whole-enterprise-architecture-standard-worked-example/
  21. Yes, of course. YES, of course. Yes. OF COURSE!
  22. A whole-enterprise architect is a designer. Designers work in a medium.
  23. What’s the architect’s medium? Don’t have one? Are you even a real designer then?
  24. Engaging with people is the real work (mostly). Aha! Conversation is the medium!
  25. Conversation is the architect’s medium. Alignment is the architect’s primary product.
  26. Alignment may mean agreement. But sometimes acceptance is all we need (see Max de Pree).
  27. Disagreement (without acceptance) is a valuable result, too. It may mean we have to resolve a conflict.
  28. A long thread, with perhaps disparate thoughts. But for me, these thoughts are beginning to come together and put me at ease.
  29. While these thoughts crystallised on @tetradian’s work, there are many others who helped create the right conditions for this to happen:
  30. These others include @ruthmalan, @bmichelson, @Abebab, @ArtBourbon and @flowchainsensei
  31. To all of you, mentioned above and not, my heartfelt thanks. And a Merry (Christmas | Any Other Holiday | Monday). /end

Why so grateful on my part? It’s because it’s still so rare for me to feel understood – which I definitely do in this case. Many thanks, Oliver!


A handful of quick notes:

— “The Five Elements metaframework” (tweet 9): this is described in some depth  in the series on ‘Towards a whole-enterprise architecture standard’. For visual summaries, there are several variants, of which perhaps the most common is this:

The AAR (After Action Review) version that Oliver mentions in tweet #10 looks like this:

In tweets #11 and #18, Oliver also mentions Damien Newman’s ‘the Squiggle‘:

And the ‘layers of abstraction’ that he mentions in tweet #16 look somewhat like this:

(Yes, it’s a generalised and extended version of the layering in John Zachman’s now-classic ‘Zachman Framework‘, with ‘row-0’ as the nominally-unchangeable indefinite-future and row-6 as the by-definition-unchangeable past. The other rows each imply some aspect of a potentially-changeable future, with each row adding more-specific detail as we get closer to the instant of action.)

There’s a lot more to be found on all of these, on this site or elsewhere – follow the links above, and see where they take you?

Once again, many thanks to Oliver Baier for this: hugely appreciated!

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