Visual Architecting

The Visual Architecting Process (VAP) supports the architect in leading architectural decision making and the exploration of options, the iterative resolving of critical uncertainties and challenges, and the evolution of the system.

The process is illustrated here and here, emphasizing the visual support for system conceptualization, design and reflection. We regard process as “scaffolding” (it supports us and enables us to build more complex systems, but the effort and focus is on building the system) and we use just as much as we need to fit the design and organizational challenges of our system/organization and the maturity stage of our system. In other words, it is a “just enough” highly iterative and agile process.

We advocate identifying and prioritizing, exploring and addressing opportunities, uncertainties, challenges and risks with the cheapest medium that will serve those we judge most important to address. If we can learn with an exercise of the imagination, with a sketch or model, with role play, with a (paper) mock-up, with a focused prototype, or a spike, then we do that. We recognize uncertainty, and deliberately seek to discover value and resolve direction.

Visual Architecting supports:
Visual Architecting
and

  • Creating architectures that are good, right and successful, where good: technically sound; right: meets stakeholders goals and fit context and purpose; and successful: actually delivers strategic outcomes.
  • Translating business strategy into technical strategy and leading the responsive implementation of that strategy
  • Applying guiding principles like: this extraordinary moment principle; the minimalist architecture principle; and the connect the dots principle.
  • Being agile. Creating options. Reflecting. Responding. Factoring and refactoring.
  • A commitment to objectivity.

Given a “just enough” (e.g., willing to work with as sketchy and cheap a decision medium as does the job well enough) and “minimalist” (focusing on decisions necessary to strategic outcomes) orientation: We seek to make the context and rationale for our decisions explicit, to identify the important side-effects and consequences and dependencies of these decisions, as well as alternatives noting why we make the decision we make. We seek to understand and compensate for cognitive biases and other sources of decision error.

Some further discussions of aspects of VAP:

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