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IN THIS SECTION, YOU WILL: Get a cheatsheet with all key points from in all sections.

Introductions

Introduction

  • This book will share my approach to running an IT architecture practice in larger organizations based on my experience at AVIV Group, eBay Classifieds, and Adevinta. I call this approach “Grounded Architecture”—architecture with strong foundations and deep roots.
  • Prioritizing people interactions and data over processes and tools, Grounded Architecture aims to connect architecture practice to all organizational levels as an antidote to the “ivory tower” architecture.
  • I also explain my motivation to write this book.

Context: Fast-Moving Global Organizations

  • To better understand any idea or solution, it is crucial to understand the context in which this idea developed.
  • The Grounded Architecture approach has evolved in the context of global, loosely coupled organizations that are diverse, with nonlinear growth dynamics, and under transformation pressures.

Goals

  • I identified the following needs that an architecture function should support: Executing At Scale, Adaptivity, Improving the Quality of Decision-Making with Data, and Maximizing Organizational Alignment & Learning.

Grounded Architecture: Introduction

Data Foundation

  • The architecture Data Foundation serves as a medium to create a complete, up-to-date picture of critical elements of the technology landscapes of big organizations.
  • The Data Foundation provides an architecture-centric view of data about a technology landscape based on source code analyses, public cloud billing reports, vibrancy reports, or incident tickets.
  • To facilitate the creation of a Data Foundation, I have been working on creating open-source tools that can help obtain valuable architectural insights from data sources, such as source code repositories.

People Foundation

  • Developing the architecture function requires having competent, empowered, and motivated architects. Architecture practice must carefully organize, empower, and leverage scarce talent.
  • In my work in the past few years, I combined two teams of architects: a small central architecture team and a cross-organizational distributed virtual team.

Architecture Activities Platform

  • The Architecture Activities Platform is a system of processes and agreements enabling architects to do everything architecture typically does, leveraging Data and People Foundations to create a data-informed, organization-wide impact.
  • Examples of activities include: supporting teams in their daily work; tracking tech debt, defining tech debt reduction programs; performing technical due diligence; standardizing processes and documentation; defining cloud, data, and platform strategies.

Value of Grounded Architecture Structure

  • When a Grounded Architecture structure is in place, it can significantly impact an organization’s functioning.
  • These impact categories are Executing At Scale, Improving the Quality of Decision-Making with Data, Maximizing Organizational Alignment & Learning, and Higher Adaptivity.

Being Architect: Introduction

Architects as Superglue

  • Architects in IT organizations should develop as “superglue,” people who hold architecture, technical details, business needs, and people together across a large organization or complex projects.
  • Architects need to be technically strong. But their unique strengths should stem from being able to relate technical issues with business and broader issues.
  • Architects should stand on three legs: skills, impact, and leadership.

Skills

  • A typical skillset of an architect includes hard (technical) skills, soft (people & social) skills, product development, and business skills.

Impact

  • Architects’ work is evaluated based on their impact on the organization.
  • Architects can make an impact via three pillars: Big-Picture Thinking, Execution, and Leveling-Up.

Leadership

  • My view of architecture leadership is inspired by David Marquet’s work and Netflix’s valued behaviors.
  • Marquet focused on leadership and organizational management, particularly emphasizing the principles of Intent-Based Leadership.
  • Borrowing from Netflix’s original values, the following behavioral traits are crucial for architects: communication, judgment, impact, inclusion, selflessness, courage, integrity, curiosity, innovation, and passion.

Architects’ Career Paths: Raising the Bar

  • Architects’ career paths ideally stem from a strong engineering background.
  • Hiring architects requires constantly raising the bar to ensure a strong and diverse team structure.

Doing Architecture: Introduction

The Culture Map: Architects’ Culture Mindfield Compass

  • I have found the work of Erin Meyer, The Culture Map, to be a beneficial tool for architects to work harmoniously with people from various cultures and backgrounds.
  • Meyer’s model contains eight scales, each representing a key area, showing how cultures vary from extreme to extreme: Communicating, Evaluating, Persuading, Leading, Deciding, Trusting, Disagreeing, and Scheduling.

Managing Organizational Complexity: Six Simple Rules

  • The Six Simple Rules approach emphasizes that in today’s complicated business environment, you must set up organizational structures based on cooperation.
  • To deal with complexity, organizations should depend on the judgment of their people and on these people cooperating.
  • This view is well aligned with the ideas of Grounded Architecture.

Understanding Product Development

  • When it comes to product development, I generally recommend two resources for architects: “Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value” by Melissa Perri and “The Discipline of Market Leader” by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema.
  • The build trap occurs when businesses focus too much on their product’s features and functionalities, overlooking customers’ needs and preferences.
  • The Discipline of Market Leader highlights three strategic paths a company can use to achieve market leadership: operational excellence, product leadership, and customer intimacy.

Architecture Governance: Nudge, Taxation, Mandates

  • Grounded Architecture supports governance models adaptable to organizations’ complex and diverse needs. A technology governance model should be a well-balanced hybrid of three different styles of governing: mandates and bans, taxes, and nudging.
  • Nudging is a form of governing where you create subtle or indirect suggestions influencing someone’s behavior or decision-making without forcing them or limiting their freedom of choice.
  • Governing with taxes (economic incentives) is a form of guiding in which people are not forbidden to make some decisions but need to “pay” some form of taxes on used resources.
  • With mandates and bans, you guide people by explicitly defining what they should or should not do.

Economic Modeling: ROI and Financial Options

  • Architects are frequently asked about the (economic) value of architecture or technology investments.
  • Answering this question is a crucial skill for any senior architect. But it may be difficult to answer this seemingly harmless question concisely and convincingly to a non-technical audience.
  • Borrowing from existing literature, I sketch two answers to the question of the economic value of architecture: the return on investment metaphor and the selling options metaphor.
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