ar chi tect: (v) design and make
Think about landscaping your front yard. It is a lot more than just the sod or a couple of bushes. The overall look of your front yard comes from the color of your house, the looks of your house, the sidewalk, the driveway, the trees, and the shrubbery. It matters all the way down to how your grass has been mowed. If you are going for a particular look you had better be thinking about these things a little bit up front and not just letting each and every service implement their part of the yard without some larger vision.
You architect because you have a particular result in mind that can’t easily be achieved without coordination and thought across disciplines. You need a result that requires some systematic arrangement of ideas.
More than siloed design
Architecting is an every day problem and there are lots of situations that require more than a simple design.
- Building in accessibility without it seeming to be an add-on
- Bringing about digital transformation and not just implementing a BYOD project
- Taking advantage of cloud-computing holistically and not just using it as an outsourcing opportunity
These situations need more than simple design. They need a design that is both deep and wide. This is also the key difference between architecting and engineering. An engineer might be the master of a single domain or even the master of a couple domains. They are the people to go to if you need specific answers around implementation or operations. Architects or the people with the role of an architect have to have a much wider exposure.
The deep and wide role you actually need is often translated as being composed of both a technologist and a craftsman. The technologist is more academic while the craftsman has the real world experience. The useful and valuable architect has to balance these two based on the current need. Most tend to err on the side of the technologist which perpetuates the Ivory Tower problem.
The important situations we face are deep and wide when it comes to design. You may have a very complete understanding at a high level but the diagram you have drawn may not be implementable. It may be implementable but it may not exhibit the qualities that are required to be successful. The classic mistake is to look across a problem making lots conceptual decisions without real regard to the ramifications.
Being able to see the relationships and the ramifications in both the deep context and the wide context is good architecture. It is the reason to architect. It is the reason you need an architect.