Structure in Threes: Positioning and Lessons not Learned

Had great discussion last night at Starbucks on Mercer Island with some former Microsoft Alumni.   One is at a Microsoft competitor now working at developing a competitive service to our mutual former employer’s.  The change in strategy at Microsoft has yielded a large shift in the Architecture domain enabling competitors to move in and eventually succeed.  My colleagues and I rather than sit around the table discussing what could have been are busy creating the future; spending several hours mapping out the landscape and what pieces need to be build or remodeled.  Sounds like Enterprise Architects at work.  However, unlike the paper mill approach that was being pushed we’ve been taking a more engineering design approach looking at how the methodologies we’ve each been developing yield implementable designs specific to client’s needs using modular componentry.

Discipline Maturity Lifecycle

I was wondering how much longer it would be before Enterprise Architecture would reach the next stage in its’ maturity.  I’ve been watching TOGAF, ZACHMAN, COBIT, ITIL, etc. for the past several years ideate and mature into a robust collection of heuristics waiting for the day these take the next step towards modularity. last night’s discussion inferred the time was rapidly approaching, both my colleagues began discussing their specific domains in context of creating a reusable component based approach.  That is to say having a set of design rules as to how to choose what components from a library or catalog of components to achieve design goals.  I was really pleased with the direction the discussion was talking.  Had I had my copy of Jon Lang’s Creating Architectural Theory –I leant it out to another peer at Microsoft this past month– I would have pointed out we’re finally making some progress.  However, that most likely would have confirmed in their eyes I was an academic (odd considering I spend more of my time building tools and applying these concepts than doing primary research in the area).

At different times during the conversation I was frantically searching for documents on my Windows Phone to point out some of the pieces I’ve already built or are in the process of building.  Unfortunately, this is where the promise doesn’t measure up to reality.  I could not get to my Office365 Small Business Online site or SkyDrive (it couldn’t recognize ANY or the Userids I entered).  Microsoft has a lot of work to do to get Services right before they can compete effectively with Amazon, Google, and Apple.  Sure individual components run, however, when combined in a system which is where the Services business is, they’re having challenges.  This systems approach is still elusive to the culture at Microsoft.  

We parted with a plan for a plan which could either mean this will result in just an nice academic discussion or that we will really start assembling a next generation of Architectural practice that will take one step closer to a engineering-like discipline rather than a artist colony debating about aesthetics of design.  In either event the discussion confirmed to me I am on the right track with ‘Structure in Threes” and creating the design methodology that enables using modular componentry at all levels of abstraction.

Overdue Thank You(s)

A little out of my typical technical only post theme.  Amazon delivered two books today I purchased with gift cards from my former second line manager at Microsoft, Yoav Intrator:

  • Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Bill Aulet
  • Ten Types of Innovation, Pikkel, Quinn & Walters

Topics I really care about, should be interesting reads this weekend.

I was truly blessed that Yoav had the faith and patience to have me grow into a competent writer.  Between he and my colleague Richard Webb –whose virtual Red Pen never ran out of ink 🙂 –which was always appreciated, together with a recommendation on a writing course from my friend Ken Hall (Gensler) helped me to grow into a more intentional writer.  Or competent enough that another colleague Martin Sykes has agreed to mentor me along the book writing and publishing path I’m pursuing during all my available time at night.

Yoav Thank You

 

Yoav, you suggested I write what I’m passionate about which is what Structure in Threes will be.  Hopefully others will find it useful.

Thank You all once again for you encouragement and support.  I hope we’ll have the opportunity in the future to collaborate again.

 

BrianSe