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Bredemeyer Consulting

Architectural Leadership
and Other Skills Workshop

"Architecture represents the significant decisions that shape a system" — Grady Booch

"Architecture decisions are those that must be made from a cross-system perspective to achieve system outcomes" — Dana Bredemeyer

As these characterizations of architecture indicate, architecting entails making design decisions of consequence to the success and evolution of the product(s) or system(s). That is, architecting work is strategic, impacting value and differentiation. Generally, we'd like technical strategy to inform, and be shaped by, business strategy. While these system design decisions are technical, they concern trade-offs that derive from, and impact, product capabilities and properties, or qualities. Moreover, they have cross-team impact, raising demands on architects to, on the one hand, understand the business and product needs, partnering with others in the organization to do so. And on the other hand, these decisions fundamentally shape, impact and are impacted by, the design work of development teams, raising the importance of leadership, collaboration and other organizational skills.

This 4-day workshop is designed to explore concepts and exercise skills in four broad areas of architect effectiveness: personal, technical, organizational and strategic. Since software and systems architects generally have a software or engineering background, our focus is on architecture and related areas including cross-cutting concerns and tradeoffs, modeling and system design, and the technical and organizational implications thereof. Given the strategic nature of architecture work, deeply impacting business success for years to come, we address topics in strategy, to understand and contribute technical perspective to business strategy, and to lead the creation of technical strategy. In the organizational effectiveness area, we place emphasis on architecting as part collaborative designing/deciding and part shaping what gets paid attention to, and how, just enough early and more as the system evolves.

Personal Effectiveness

Architects are looked to for direction setting and guidance, and architecture decisions are of great consequence both for the business and for development teams. This broader impact ups the ante, placing greater demands on the calibre, the experience, integrity, ingenuity and insight of persons in this role. Here we consider foundational understandings, and skills and related techniques, in areas that include:

  • Self-awareness, self-management
  • Empathy and design imagination
  • Cognition (embodied, enacted, extended, embedded), cognitive amplifiers, fallibilities, (logical) fallacies and biases
  • Curiosity, observation, opportunity discovery, problem solving, and problem understanding and (re)framing, finding and exploring alternatives
  • Introduction to a broad landscape of related topics (emotional intelligence, perception and meaning making, ...) and writers/works, including William James; Daniel Kahneman, Indi Young, Daniel Goleman, Edwin Hutchins.

Technical Effectiveness

We focus on the system design concepts and techniques that come to the fore in architecting, assuming that the architect already has depth of experience in specialist areas (in engineering, or possibly business in the case of enterprise architects). Topics include:

  • Architecture and Systems Design key concepts and concerns
  • Techniques in system design: modeling, prototyping, visualization;
    components, responsibilities, interactions and mechanisms; designing boundaries, interfaces and promises; abstraction and reification, observability, ..
  • System qualities (scalability, reliabaility, availability, ...) and characterizing the design envelope
  • Constraints and forces: role of; identifying; ... and Tradeoffs
  • Affordances and design for fit to context and to purpose
  • Heuristics, principles, patterns, ..
  • Complexity, Uncertainty, and Related strategies (e.g., reversibility)
  • Agility and flexibility, System Integrity, Technical debt, Failures, Reliability Engineering, and Resilience
  • Sustainability, evolution and architecture transitions, feedback loops
  • Introduction to a broad landscape of related topics, writers and works, including Herbert Simon, Russell Ackoff, Stafford Beer, Donella Meadows, Alicia Juarrero, Eb Rechtin, Gerrit Muller, Sidney Decker, Erik Hollnagel, David Woods, Donald A. Schon

Organizational Effectiveness

Architecture work impacts many people and multiple teams (e.g., across a product family, or teams of teams for more complex systems), raising challenges of leadership through transitions, participation and consensus-building, communicating, and more. This focal area addresses those challenges:

  • The role of architects in leading successful teams
  • Leadership styles; fractal and participatory leadership and design
  • Building relationships, trust and teams
  • Collaboration, and fostering the best work in others
  • Working across the organization, bridging strategic/business, and development/technical; as well as working across technical teams with differing charters and priorities
  • Decision making, judgment, effects of groups, confidence,
  • Communication, listening, storytelling, interviewing
  • Organizational dynamics or politics, and magnifying the ability to get things done, working with and through people; architectrure transitions
  • Persuasion and Influence; Negotiation, Disagreement and conflict;
  • Culture; Nudges, enabling constraints
  • Coaching and facilitating, feedback
  • Ethics
  • Introduction to a broad landscape of related topics, writers and works, including Norbert Wiener, Chris Argyris, Peter Drucker, Edgar Schein, Brené Brown, Mel Conway, Michael Useem, Peter Senge, David Marquet, Jeffrey Pfeffer

Strategic Effectiveness

We explore the strategic role of architects in bridging business and technology, identifying where technology can be applied to creating business opportunity and competitive differentiation, and setting and expressing technical strategy, shaping the technical direction for a product domain. Topics include:

  • Strategy concepts and concerns; strategy fractals and emergence
  • Envisioning and value design; Developing architectural vision that aligns with business strategy and is built out and evolved over time
  • Context and Landscape Mapping; Ecosystem understanding, Industry awareness, Value Networks, Capability Maps, and Competitive differentiation
  • Technology radars, roadmaps and scenarios, architecture lifecycles and implications, including end-of-life strategies
  • Strategy Canvas, Wardley Maps, others, and implications (managing transitions, where to innovate, what to leverage, and where to use commodity, ..)
  • Business acumen, intrapreneurship and building value, prioritization strategies
  • Risk assessment, strategic risks, experiment design
  • Introduction to range of related topics, writers and works, including Jeff Bezos, Eliyahu Goldratt, Simon Wardley, John Boyd, Henry Mintzberg, Alex Osterwalder, Jabe Bloom


We recognize that not everyone who architects systems, has the title of architect. Thus, in addition to those who are formally in the role of software or systems architect, others who would benefit include: tech leads, senior developers and senior UX and system designers, as well as technology, infrastructure, business and enterprise architects, and managers of product development and software teams.

Workshop Format

We interleave large group lecture and discussion, with small group working sessions to further explore and ground the concepts and techniques in practice, and seed further discussion and lecture.

One might say that this format is both design lab and leader lab, where the work we do exercises both architectural design skills and collaborative leadership.

Open Enrollment Workshops

Upcoming: Chicago-Schaumburg, IL, April 16-19, 2019. Instructor: Ruth Malan

Please call us at (812) 335-1653 or email for more information, and to enroll.

The cost for the 4-day open enrollment workshop is US$2,500.00 per student. Early enrollment discount: 20% for enrollments completed by January 15, 2019.

In-House Workshops

Most of our training is on-site at client organizations. Pricing depends on number of students taking the class. Please contact us for details.



Alternatively, you can contact Ruth Malan on twitter.


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Page Created: November 1999
Last Updated: November 20, 2018