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Situational Awareness

Updated: Sep 24, 2018

A big part of being effective in architecture is not only doing the right thing, but making sure it's being done at the right time. Like hip-hop stars who hit the stage with an entourage of hangers-on and hype men, solutions developed early and in haste nearly always brings unwanted consequences with them.

So, before you really get the creative juices flowing, what are the things you should make sure you have locked down, and what are the world-ending consequences if you don't pay attention to them?


Do we have a problem here?

Getting clear about why you're even there is as good a place to start as any. You don't have to spend thousand on surveys, interviews and workshops. You do need to talk to people who actually understand the nature of the problem and the subsequent business impacts.

Failure impact - Nobody will care about what you are doing, or you'll waste time on the wrong things.


Who's your gender agnostic authority figure?

Understanding the people and groups that make decisions related to funding, technical approval, risk and other matters that are important to your work won't just help you move through the system more quickly, it will help set constraints and expectations on you and your team.

Failure impact - You'll go s-l-o-w as you deal with decision-making delays, or people will actively disrupt your work because they view it as undesirable to them or the organisation.


So what's in it for me?

Since you (hopefully) now know the problem and the stakeholders, this should be a little more paint-by-numbers. Think of this as the stakeholder and organisation-oriented results of your actions, instead of a technical wish-list. These actions will have specific benefits (happier users, lower costs, increased adoption etc) that will be bestowed upon one or more of your stakeholder groups.

Failure impact - You'll forget about the impact to the business you're aiming for and spiral into technology-focused aims that don't appeal to anyone.


Yeah, but what about that other thing?

The great thing about technology is there are a million ways to skin the proverbial cat. The bad thing about technology is.... you get the picture. The point of thinking through your options is to make sure you're not unintentionally constraining your thinking and to make sure that you haven't gone to crazy town without thinking through all the relevant considerations.

Keep your business context hat on, and remember that doing nothing is always an option. Once you figure out what options are both viable (from the perspectives of cost, time, capability etc) and help you best meet your outcomes and you'll be pointing in the right direction.

Failure Impact - You'll think too big without being fully-informed, or too small and leave benefits on the table.


Hopefully that should start you on the right path to successful solutions that actually solve real business problems. For those that have been around the block a few times, some of this should look pretty familiar, and of course there's always a wider context that these activities occur in.

I'll do a follow-on post about some of the other aspects of this stage of the architecture process in the near future, but in the meantime drop me a line with thoughts, feedback and good karma (which will be returned to you in your next life as a lama).

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