Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This is what pushed me over the edge.

So I have worked as an architect in computer systems for over 10 years. I have held many titles in this role; technical architect, systems architect, end-to-end architect and enterprise architect. The technical or business focus of the role is what changes from title to title. Over the last five years I have used agile approaches within architecture and as Web 2.0 technologies mature and become increasingly accessible, a less ritualistic and agile approach to architecture makes increasing sense. I also believe architecture should be an involved part of the development culture and should be more pragmatic and aligned with agile methods. This approach creates an order of magnitute increase in communication from within the development team and with all the external stakeholders. The Web 2.0 toolset provides this increase in communication with the added advantage of providing a searchable repository for the communication. Essentially these tools replace the overly ritualized document creation that takes place in traditional architectural approaches and also creates a searchable repository that contains both the explicit and tacit knowledge in and surrounding the architecture. All good.

So what happened the other day that sent me over the edge... I was spinning around in the traditional document creation process and I was reviewing some changes and I came across this gem (see image). Somebody took the effort to make the comment that there was a typo. Now I can see the positive side of this in that the document quality was increasing but I couldn't believe the non-collaborative approach. My perspective was if this was in a wiki the typo would have been corrected by the first person to find it and the built-in wiki versioning would have captured the change event. The amount of cognitive cycles saved by only the finder making the change would have held big benefits. For I wouldn't be looking at it and thinking about it, the change would have been made at source of discovery. In my mind this is a micro example of the positive and cascading effects that using Agile and Web 2.0 approaches within architecture could have. Massively collaborate on developing the architecture as needed, let the technology and social media record the history and the tacit knowledge found in the related discussion.