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Whither the Architect?

Phil Wainewright writes the below of Microsoft’s mashup challenge:

The biggest problem they face is that different parts of the organization are progressing at different speeds, and from vastly different starting points. If you had set out to develop a product strategy that’s fit for the mashup age, this is not where you would have chosen to start from. There’s no knowing whether some business units are ever going to catch up. Microsoft’s leadership is just going to have to push and prod and hope for the best.

The same could be said of any company’s challenges when it comes to implementing SOA or any sort of “make all that crap work together” projects.

As an interesting tie-in Mike Arrington’s comments about Google in the latest Gillmor gang. He says (not an exact quote, but from memory):

There doesn’t seem to be over-all coordination, or product management, over all the Google applications. They just seem to throw everything out there and see what sticks.

Indeed, that’s well understood.

Who Run Barter Town?

In both cases, what’s missing is what us code-heads call “architecture.” Of course, product management is needed as well. It always troubles me that the two roles are separated — I’m sure Cauvin could tell us why (for the 35th time, I’m sure ;>) — but I can see that one person simply can’t scale for all those tasks.

Us “Small is the New Big Types” would snark back that the fact that one person can’t do both those roles is an indication of too much complexity in The System…but that’s some awful optimistic thinking that it could be otherwise. More importantly, that division of labor is going to exist for a long time, even if we eventually move to the nirvana of tech and biz co-existing in the same person.

Right, so we have these roles — architecture and product management — that Wainewright and Arrington see as missing at Microsoft and Google. Do you think they’re right? Does it matter?

Enterprise Agile

One of the key insights of Scrum (and Agile in general) is that product management is key for success. Weak product management is a sure path to lameness. As prescriptive as Scrum is on strong product management, most Agile-think is mum when it comes to architecture. Many people understand this to mean that architecture doesn’t happen in Agile, which is complete horse-poopy.

Nonetheless — and to make a statement without any back-up discussion…hopefully some will follow ;> — when it comes to Enterprise Agile, strong product management and architecture across teams is critical. Otherwise, good luck getting all that stuff to work together. You might need to look into text ads.

Categories: Agile, Enterprise Software, Programming.

Comment Feed

2 Responses

  1. .. or should that be "wither the architect"?

    I've never had the impression that Agile meant no architecture – I always read it that someone had to know the picture frame into which all the pieces fit, and although the details may morph somewhat over iterations, the 'big picture' should ultimately achieve the desired landscape.

    Maybe that's "some awful optimistic thinking" as well …

  2. Wither indeed. Man, I wish I’d thought of that pun. Good ‘un.