discipline banner.gif (11841 bytes)

Other Columns

Architecture Teams

Nurturing the Architect Tree

Architectural Requirements

Minimalist Architecture

Architect: What's in a name?

James Madison and the Role of the Architect

Architect as the Ultimate Design Authority

Architect's Role in Dealing with Complexity

Quest for Great Architects

Related White Papers

i. Software Architecture (.pdf)

ii. Visual Architecting Process (.pdf)

For more on Architecting see

Architecting Process

Book List

Architects and Complexity Management

One of the top principles for architects to follow is "simplify, simplify, simplify" (from Eberhardt Rechtin's classic text on Systems Architecture, 1991).

We need to differentiate; there is pressure to innovate. But innovation that amplifies complexity comes at a high price, raising the lifecycle cost for the business (development cost, maintenance cost, cost of unpredictability and market delays, support costs, etc.) as well as for users. In our view the architect (lead architect in particular, and the architecture team), is accountable for the design: for fit-to-purpose, fit within the environment, and so on. Often this is a potential turf-battle between marketing and R&D, or in IT, a turf-battle between architects and business analysts representing the business, and in many cases, to circumvent the turf-battle, lines have been drawn and responsibility does not reside with the architect. Organizations want to call the architect "the design authority," but they don't give the architect authority over the critical design decisions!

The architect's role in managing complexity cannot be over-exaggerated! In the first place, the architect has to be the fastidious watchdog weighing every feature for importance to differentiating value proposition on the one hand, versus additional complexity both to the development organization and to the end-user, on the other. The recent article by Rust, Roland, Debora Thompson, and Rebecca Hamilton titled "Defeating Feature Fatigue," (Harvard Business Review, February 2006), is highly recommended! 


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacoma_Narrows_Bridge

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Millennium_Bridge and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Foster

[3] Rust, Roland, Debora Thompson, and Rebecca Hamilton, "Defeating Feature Fatigue," Harvard Business Review, February 2006.

This column is taken from Ruth Malan's (almost daily) architecture journal, entry date: 2/24/06.

See also:

Copyright 2006 Bredemeyer Consulting
URL: http://www.bredemeyer.com
Page Author: Ruth Malan
Page Created: April 5, 2006
Last Modified: May 17, 2006