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Architect(ure) as Enabler of Organization’s Sustainable Flow of Change

Architect(ure) as Enabler of Organization’s Sustainable Flow of Change

Architecture is an unavoidable element of any tech-enabled organization. As Grady Booch says: "every software-intensive system has an architecture. In some cases that architecture is intentional, while in others it is accidental. Most of the times it is both". Furthermore, organizations are complex sociotechnical systems: teams ("Who) that listen and respond to "What" their environment and customers need by building tech-enabled products ("How")). These elements are continuously changing, so we must evolve and adapt how we approach architecture in our teams and across the organization. This is particularly important in modern product organizations that want to support a sustainable "fast flow of change" to respond continuously to their customers and environment.

In this talk, I motivate the need to embrace this evolutionary approach to architecture, i.e., continuously evolve its "architecture topology" (https://esilva.net/tla_insights/architecture-topologies). To provide a robust formulation, I describe the organization as a network of related scopes (e.g., Teams, Products, Product Groups, Portfolios, etc.). These scopes scale the organization and its ability to evolve sustainably. Architecture happens in all these scopes and across them.

During the talk, I explore multiple architecture topologies and elements that evolve and mature them, for example: how to position architects and/or people doing architecture, how it enables decision-making, how it supports learning & flow of change, etc. I also discuss challenges typically found in each architecture topology (which tend to be the bottlenecks we must address by evolving to another topology). Then, I share strategies we can use to evolve the architecture topology. For example, team topologies, developing a culture of trust, architecture as enabling team, coaching & support architects transitioning, advice process, etc. Per architecture topology, I also share first-hand real-world examples, particularly ones I have seen over the last five years working as Principal Tech Lead at bol.com (an organization that went through hyper-growth and required several evolutions of its architecture topology).

I end this talk by emphasizing the need to embrace the continuous evolution of our organizations, as their environments are also continuously changing. As such, our approaches and practices to architecture must also evolve. For this to happen, we must strive to shape structures that allow this evolution, namely a culture of trust and safety and one that embraces that the organization is an open system.

ℹ️ For more info, check: https://esilva.net

Eduardo da Silva

November 02, 2022
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  1. Architect(ure) as Enabler of Organization’s Sustainable Flow of Change Eduardo

    da Silva, PhD (esilva.net | @emgsilva | [email protected]) Kandddinsky 2022, 31/10/2022
  2. 4 Cope with this by stretching social systems => which

    leads to messy social and technical systems… Inspired by: Reflections: Sociotechnical Systems Design and Organization Change
  3. 5 Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash Leading to continuous

    “fight” against the environment (external & internal)
  4. 🏢 These old org structures don’t cut it anymore…they limit

    the dynamics & velocity that modern orgs need for people to do their best (Knowledge) work 6 Photo by Cole Patrick on Unsplash
  5. ◌ Acknowledge that orgs are “Open System” - continuously affected

    by their environment, and affecting it back 7 Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash
  6. 8 💡Creating structure that allow org to respond to changes

    in the environment, and to learn & adapt as needed! (sustainable flow of change) Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash
  7. “every software-intensive system has an architecture. In some cases that

    architecture is intentional, while in others it is accidental. Most of the times it is both” –Grady Booch 11 [sociotechnical]
  8. TL;DR: Approaches to architecture in teams. There are different forms

    & they change in time. 12 Architecture Topologies & Architecture as Enabling Team, Eduardo da Silva
  9. A model for organizing architects & Architecture* Model to approach

    Architecture in teams. Originally introduced in Stefan Toth’s book on software architecture 13 *Would you like architects with your architecture? | images credits: Gregor Hohpe
  10. Evolution Pattern: Shift Right 14 • Typical progression in most

    orgs (need time to evolve) • Progression depends on “architectural & team/org maturity”
  11. Evolution Pattern: Bounce Back 15 • May happen if teams

    have issues approaching architecture • Focus should be: create conditions to get back to model #2
  12. 16 Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash ❓What about Architecture

    & Decisions across teams and the organization?
  13. 17 Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash ⚠ org is

    a network of teams and scopes. Looking at “team scope” architecture in isolation is not enough!
  14. 18 Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash ⚙ common Reductionist

    Approach: Overfocus on just “Team Autonomy”… forgetting teams exist in a network that form the organization
  15. 19 Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash 💡 Alternative framing:

    embrace org as a complex adaptive system, which is defined by all its teams and their interactions ➡ “Purposeful Autonomy”
  16. “A system is more than the sum of its parts…

    It loses its essential properties when it is taken apart…“ Russell Ackoff 20 On Systems Thinking, Russell Ackoff
  17. Example: Product-centric Organization • Team scope is just one scope,

    a sub-system in a Product scope • Product Group scope tends to be a way to scale related product (scopes) 23 Product Taxonomy, Ross Clanton, Amy Walters, Jason Zubrick, Pat Birkeland, Mik Kersten, Alan Nance, and Anders Wallgren
  18. 24 Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash 🎯 enable architecture

    across all the organizations “Scopes” so that the overall system (org and its products) can best achieve its purpose & goals
  19. 26

  20. 27 • Focus on “product” scope & its sub-scopes (teams)

    • These ideas can be similarly applied to other scopes (to scale, align purpose & decision making in the whole org)
  21. 29

  22. 30

  23. Architect Elevator “In addition to making technical decisions, architects can

    help change the organization's structure and processes to support this transition.” Connect-dots: “...architects need to take the express elevator from the engine room to the penthouse, where business strategy resides.” 31
  24. 1: Scope Architect & Team Scope Boundaries (❗“Architect decides, team

    executes”) 32 Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
  25. 33

  26. 34

  27. 2: Scope Enabling Architect & Teams Architects (✅“Architect in surrounding

    scope”+“Architect in team”) 35 Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash
  28. 36

  29. 37

  30. 38

  31. 44 44 Inspired on: Reinventing Organizations book, by Frederic Laloux

    Scaling the Practice of Architecture, Conversationally, Andrew Harmel-Law
  32. 46 “What worries you about the Advice Process?” Credits: DDD

    EU 2022 Keynote, Andrew Harmel-Law, Diana Montalion, Mike Rozinsky, Gayathri Thiyagarajan and Dan Young
  33. 47 “How confident are you in the advice process?” Credits:

    DDD EU 2022 Keynote, Andrew Harmel-Law, Diana Montalion, Mike Rozinsky, Gayathri Thiyagarajan and Dan Young
  34. 48 “An idea to make us more confident in this

    process” Credits: DDD EU 2022 Keynote, Andrew Harmel-Law, Diana Montalion, Mike Rozinsky, Gayathri Thiyagarajan and Dan Young
  35. 50

  36. 51

  37. Thank you! Eduardo da Silva, PhD Independent consultant on enabling

    sociotech leadership & systems evolution # @emgsilva | esilva.net | [email protected] 󰗔 Architecture Topologies: github.com/emgsilva/architecture-topologies 💡 “companion article” of this talk coming soon on esilva.net 52
  38. 📚 References • Architecture Topologies & Architecture as Enabling Team,

    Eduardo da Silva • Would you like architects with your architecture?, Gregor Hohpe • Less is More with Minimalist Architecture, Ruth Malan and Dana Bredemeyer • Team Topologies, Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais • Sociotechnical Systems Evolution & Architecture, Eduardo da Silva • On Systems Thinking, Russell Ackoff (analysis by Eduardo da Silva) • Scaling the Practice of Architecture, Conversationally, Andrew Harmel-Law • Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux • Advice Process Playbook, Equal Experts Consulting • Accelerate, Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, Gene Kim 53