Kerrie Holley is a software architect and IBM Fellow. The title of IBM Fellow is not won easily. They are a group that includes a Kyoto Prize
winner and five Nobel Prize winners, they have fostered some of the IBM
company’s most stunning technical breakthroughs―from the Fortran
computing language to the systems that helped put the first man on the
moon to the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, the first instrument to image
atoms. These are people that are big thinkers and don’t shy away from
tackling some of the worlds wicked problems.
The dichotomy of our age is surely that as our machines become more and
more intelligent the problems that we need them to solve are becoming
ever more difficult and intractable. They are indeed truly wicked problems,
no more so than in our offices of power where the addition of political
and social ‘agendas’ would seem to make some of the problems we face
even more difficult to address.
I’m sure we’ve all been here. You’re in a meeting or on a conference
call or just having a conversation with a colleague discussing some
interesting idea or proposal which he or she has previous experience of
and at some point they issue the immortal words “I’ll send you the
The first ever architecture specific salary survey has just been published in the UK by FMC Technology. In total over 1000 architects responded to the survey. The report looks at architect roles in six main areas:
It also looks at pay rises (in 2013), regional and industry differences as well as motivational factors
The results can be viewed here.
Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design and author of the books Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences and slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations has written a great blog post about what she refers to as the TED effect. The TED effect refers to the impact that the TED conferences have had on all of us who need to present as part of our daily lives.
Nancy’s basic assertion is that “in public speaking it’s no longer
okay to be boring”. In the years BT (before TED) it was okay to deliver
boring presentations because actually no one knew if you were being
boring or not because most people’s bar for what constituted a good
presentation was pretty low anyway. In the dark years of BT we would all
just sit stoically through those presentations that bored us to death
and missed the point completely because bad presentations were just an
occupational hazard we all had to learn to deal with. If nothing else it
gave us time to catch up on our email or quietly chatter away to a
colleague in the back row.
Now though everything has changed! For anyone that has seen more than
half a dozen TED talks we know that if we are not engaged within the
first 30 seconds we are ready to walk. Not only that if we felt you were
wasting our time we go onto Twitter or Facebook and tell the rest of
the world how boring you were. If however you did engage us and managed
to get across your idea in 18 minutes
or under (the maximum time of a TED talk) then we will reward you by
spreading your ideas and help you get them adopted and funded.
As technical people software architects often struggle with
presentations simply because they are communicating technology so, by
definition, that must be complicated and take loads of time with lots of
slides containing densely populated text or diagrams that cannot be
read unless you are sitting less than a metre from the screen. But, as
Nancy Duarte has explained countless times in her books and her blog, it needn’t be like that, even for a die-hard techno-geek.
Here’s my take on on how to deal with the TED effect:
Just because you are given an hour to present, don’t think you have
to actually spend that amount of time talking. Use the TED 18 minute
rule and try and condense your key points into that time. Use the rest
of the time for discussion and exchange of ideas.
Use handouts for providing more detail. Handouts don’t just have to
be documents given out during the presentation. Consider writing up the
detail in a blog post or similar and provide a link to this at the end
of your talk.
Never, ever present slides someone else has created. If a
presentation is worth doing then it’s worth investing the time to make
it your presentation.
Remember the audience is there to see you speak and hear your ideas.
Slides are an aid to get those ideas across and are not an end in their
own right. If you’re just reading what’s on the presentation then so
can the audience so you may as well not be there.
The best talks are laid out like a book or a movie. They have a
beginning, a middle and an end. It often helps to think of the end first
(what is the basic idea or point you want to get across) and work
backwards from there. As Steven Pressfield says in the book Do the Work, “figure out where you want to go; then work backwards from there”.
Finally, watch as many TED talks as you can to see to see how they
engage with the audience and get their ideas across. One of the key
attributes you will see all the great speakers have is they are
passionate about their subject and this really shines through in their
talk. Maybe, just maybe, if you are not really passionate about what
your subject you should not be talking about it in the first place?
Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call Don’t stand in the doorway Don’t block up the hall For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’ It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin’
These are certainly epochal changing times as we all try to understand the combined forces that social, mobile, analytic and cloud computing are going to have on the world and how we as software architects react to them.
You may have noticed a lack of posts in this blog recently. This is partly due to my own general busyness but also due to the fact that I have been trying to understand and assimilate myself what impact these changes are likely to have on this profession of ours. Is it more of the same, just that the underlying technology is changing (again) or is it really a fundamental change in the way the world is going to work from now on? Whichever it is these are some of the themes I will be covering in upcoming posts in this (hopefully) reinvigorated blog.
As of this posting I plan to move my blog over to Wordpress which I have decided I prefer as a blogging platform. For a while I will maintain both until I build up readers on the new platform. At some point a will begin to just put links on here to my Wordpress blog and eventually stop updating this one altogether, just leaving it as an archive. Please join me therefore over at the other Software Architecture Zen.