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Sociotechnical Thinking and Architecture - Motivation and Traits

Sociotechnical Thinking and Architecture - Motivation and Traits

30-minute talk on the motivation and some essential traits behind sociotechnical thinking and architecture and how these can be essential enablers of the sustainable flow of change in modern tech-enabled organizations.

🤝 if you want to get this talk in your org, feel free to ping me; contact info here: https://esilva.net/consulting
ℹ️ for more information on this topic, check: https://esilva.net/sociotechnical

Eduardo da Silva

November 01, 2022
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  1. Sociotechnical Thinking & Architecture Towards more sustainable flow of change

    based on customer, environment and business value Eduardo da Silva, PhD (esilva.net | @emgsilva | [email protected]) 09/2022
  2. 2 Inspired by: Reflections: Sociotechnical Systems Design and Organization Change

  3. 3 Cope with this by stretching social systems => which

    at the end leads to messy social and technical systems… Inspired by: Reflections: Sociotechnical Systems Design and Organization Change
  4. 4 Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash Leading to continuous

    “fight” against the environment (external & internal)
  5. 🏢 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 5 Photo by Cole Patrick on Unsplash
  6. ◌ Acknowledge that orgs are “Open System” - continuously affected

    by their environment, and affecting it back 6 Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash
  7. 7 💡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
  8. Let’s talk about Restaurants... ...some traits from “Great Restaurants” (Orgs

    & products) 8
  9. Trait 1: Your staff defines The Restaurant cooking and experiences

    If you want an amazing French food experience you need to have French food chefs and wine experts; and they have to work together to come up with great french food experiences. 💡 Your teams shape your product and organization 9
  10. Trait 1: Your staff defines your cooking and experiences >>

    Conway’s Law Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure. -- Melvin E. Conway In a nutshell: “Software systems architecture always follows organization systems communication structures” 10
  11. Trait 1: Your staff defines your cooking and experiences >>

    Conway’s Law ℹ Design & evolve organization to mirror the desired product system architecture How? Architect with Conway’s Law in mind* - What system architecture we want? (think tech, but also business/product mission/goals; enable high velocity, etc.) - What is the team/org arrangement we need to make it happen? *Often called “Inverse Conway Maneuver” (by James Lewis), but this is more than that: it is a “continuous activity” 11
  12. Trait 2: Chefs cannot cook, serve the food and do

    the dishes at the same time... If you want to run your restaurant smoothly and develop & keep a healthy strong team, you need to have enough people and skill to support their work without having people “burning out” (or leaving). 💡Your teams must have the right conditions to build the product for your customer 12
  13. Trait 2: Chefs cannot cook, serve and do the dishes

    at the same time… >> Team Cognitive Load “Software that fits in your (team) head(s)” --Daniel Terhorst-North “We should be thinking about limiting the size of software, services, and products to the cognitive load that the team can handle…” --Team Topologies Credits: Team Topologies 13 🧠 “Cognitive load is the total amount of mental effort used in the working memory”
  14. Trait 2: Chefs cannot cook, serve and do the dishes

    at the same time… >> Team Cognitive Load ℹ Team Topologies’ “Team-first” approach: - Before jump into implementing the “aspirational technical architecture”, check: can team(s) successfully build & own it? - Namely: do they have enough cognitive load available?* If the answer is “No”, check what can you do? (platform, enabling team, new team, …) Credits: Team Topologies | *Team Topologies provides tools for assessing Cognitive Load on team 14
  15. Trait 3: Kitchen + Serving + Wine + ... =

    Restaurant Your restaurant has different parts and people working on them (in parallel); however, in order to maximize your “product” (value to customer) you want to understand and optimize how it all comes together. 💡Your product is the combination of different value streams, owned by different teams in the organization but (should be) aligned to maximize value for customer 15
  16. Trait 3: Kitchen + Serving + Wine + ... =

    Restaurant >> Teams Boundaries & Interrelations 16 How can we set up our teams, their boundaries and interrelations… so that they contribute to “maximize value exchange to the customer” “A system is more than the sum of its parts… It loses its essential properties when it is taken apart…“ Russell Ackoff
  17. Trait 3: Kitchen + Serving + Wine + ... =

    Restaurant >> Teams Boundaries & Interactions Goal: maximize Stream Aligned Teams available Cognitive Load Credits: Team Topologies 17
  18. Trait 3: Kitchen + Serving + Wine + ... =

    Restaurant >> Teams Boundaries & Interactions Domain-Driven Design (DDD) provides great mechanisms to discover team & software (sociotechnical) boundaries and inter-relations ⚠ avoid pure “technical-driven boundaries” 18
  19. Trait 4: don’t hand recipes to your chefs… Empower them

    to discover new recipes Do you want to achieve unique experiences (and value exchange) for your customers? Then enable your crew to "experiment & discover" how to maximize that! (continuously) 💡Your teams discover (with the customer) what are the best things to build in the product to maximize the value exchange (continuously) 19
  20. Trait 4: don’t hand recipes to your chefs… >> Continuous

    Discovery & Delivery in team Product team should be empowered to continuously discover (listen & experience with customer) and brainstorm ways to make the product better (bottom-up / emergent) …while aligning with overarching org strategies (top-down, multi-product/team) Credits: 2020 Product Management Insights Report, Alpha 20
  21. Trait 5: because #1 restaurant does something it does not

    mean it will work for you and your crew Your restaurant will have specific constraints, context, mission, etc. Understand those elements and design your restaurant from there! 💡Your organization is a complex sociotechnical system. You need to understand your context & design based on that. 21
  22. Trait 5: because #1 restaurant does something it does not

    mean it will work for you and your crew >> Understand your context & design based on that Your organization has a particular context that need to be taken into account when designing it Don’t just copy Spotify! ⚠ Enable conditions (culture, strategy, structures) to continuously change 22
  23. Summing it up…

  24. We must take an holistic view to the evolution of

    the “What” + “Who” + “How” systems… Isolated local optimizations will not do it anymore! (Service) Product What enables maximize Value Exchange (Product) Value $$$ Who is doing this? (Teams) How are we doing it? (Tech Arch) This is a Complex Adaptive (SocioTechnical) System 24
  25. SocioTechnical Systems Evolution - Mental Model 25

  26. Sociotechnical Thinking & architecture “Sociotechnical Architecture is about taking an

    holistic co-design approach to technical and organizational systems, given the inherent impact they have on each other in their environment.” --Eduardo da Silva 26
  27. 💡resources to explore further 27 https://esilva.net/sociotechnical (Many resources on sociotechnical

    systems architecture) https://esilva.net/talks/#sociote chnical-devopslisbon_2021 (deeper dive on introducing SocioTechnical Architecture, with some examples of sociotechnical systems evolution) https://github.com/ddd-crew (Excellent resources to approach the many challenges of “understanding and modeling” domains, including taking SocioTechnical considerations) https://teamtopologies.com (Read the book, look at infographics, use cases, etc., this will help shaping your language to have the sociotechnical thinking considerations shared today)
  28. Thank you! Eduardo da Silva, PhD Independent consultant on enabling

    sociotech leadership & systems evolution # @emgsilva | esilva.net | [email protected] SocioTechnical Systems Evolution & Architecture: 󰗔 esilva.net/sociotechnical 28