A good friend once told me that she knew the exact day when she went from adolescence to young adulthood: it was the day that she realized that saying “no” to her mother was, at that time and in that place, the absolutionly postively right thing to do.

In a certain sense, the word ‘architect’ is not well understood or well defined.  Different organizations are struggling with just how much power or control an architect should have.  To be effective, an architect must have absolute decision rights over some aspects of systems design, but they must not have that right at all levels below that.

In other words, just because the architect decides that System X is composed of components A, B, and C, that doesn’t mean that the architect can, or should, design the components.  The component designer (or sometimes application designer) should design the components. 

I’m not saying that the long list of people with architect next to their name doesn’t contain folks who can do more.  Not that at all.  Every architect probably has some skill in application design. 

What I am saying is that, for large projects, or in the case of enterprise architecture, there needs to be a clear understanding of where architecture ends and application design starts.

And then, for the folks who work inside the fantastic and sometimes naieve boundaries defined by their architecture, the snooping of the architect becomes meddlesome, irritating, and unwelcome.

Let your designers shine.  Start by getting out of their way.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

4 thoughts on “Just say "no" to your architect”
  1. Well said. I learned much the same lesson a few years back in the military. Micromanagment is the fast track to an early grave. If you surround yourself with people you trust, trust them to do the job!

  2. Having worked as both an application designer and an architect, I agree 100% with this. As hard as it is for an architect to watch a designer create something in a different way than she would, applying two different perspectives to the problem is almost always beneficial.

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