In my childhood I really enjoyed playing with 90’s toys like Rubik’s Magic, Tamagotchi and K’Nex. But there was one favourite toy I could spend hours on, just watching stories through the seven pairs of film transparencies on a reel. Who didn’t use to have one, the View-Master? The cardboard disks containing seven stereoscopic 3D pairs of small transparent colour photographs on film told a specific story. I had many reel packs with different entertaining stories and the one I used to love watching was Scooby Doo “That’s Snow Ghost”.
Into another world
As an architect, you find yourself comfortable in the world of components, how they work together and decide what technologies should be used in your project. To be more specific, let’s take someone with the solutions architect role and a software development background. In that role, the world you find yourself most comfortable in contains elements like on-premise and cloud infrastructure, application architecture, technical integrations with other systems inside and outside your organization, data and information flows and deployments with CI/CD pipelines. All these elements can be captured in the concept of solution architecture.
But there are many other worlds and views an architect needs to take into account, the business world being the main. In most organizations, there is a natural gap between the technology and business teams. By adopting agile frameworks like Scrum, organizations find a way to get work done as a collaborative business and technology team effort. But still, it remains a challenge for a technical person like an architect to empathize with the business world. We can understand the business environment and the business goals, but do we really understand their current concerns and pain points?
On the one hand, this gap is mainly caused by business teams which generally have little to no knowledge about technology and its impact, and is not really interested in it — and should they? And on the other hand, we have technical teams that know on a general level what the business requires but doesn’t really feel deeply about concerns. Yes, as a technical team we know what we need to build from the Product Owner, but do we really feel the pain points of the business for which we create solutions? We like to build great technical solutions where we incur tunnel vision and often along the way detach from the real business problem.
Connecting the worlds
As an architect, you need to be the linchpin between all these worlds and not stay in your comfortable world of technology. You need to really understand the pain points in the business and empathize with the business teams. But not only these worlds, but also the compliance world, the legal world, risk world, security world, management world, business partner world, and client world. You need to be able to empathize with the people on those teams and be the facilitator who is connecting all those worlds.