Monday, August 30, 2010

The Three C's of IT Architects

This is a completely unscientific observation but over the years of being an architect I have observed the following characteristics in people that claim to be members of this profession.  I refer to these as the three C's of being an IT architect. Some people have only one of these but most have a mix of all three, with maybe one being dominant. The three C's are: 
  • Creatives – These are the ideas people, that are keen to do new stuff. They are the people that build the solutions that address the business requirements. They have an intimate knowledge of technology (in their particular area of interest or concern) and want to use that technology. If you don't have these people in your project/team/organisation then nothing will actually get done. The downside of having too much of this attribute is that eventually you have to stop creating and ship something so you need to know when to stop. 
  • Consumers – These are the people that use what the creatives create. Whilst they may not create anything new this type of architect is not without merit. They often combine what others have done in new and innovative ways. We sometimes refer to this activity as reuse, one of the Holy Grails of IT so it is not to be underestimated. If you don't have these people in your project/team/organisation then chances are the ideas from the creatives will not get fully realised. The downside of having too much of this attribute is that there is a limit to what you can build out of reusing stuff and eventually someone has to come up with some new ideas. 
  • Connectors – These are the people that don't create or reuse but know people that can do these things and join the two together. Again this is not to be an underestimated skill. After all if a seller cannot find a buyer what's the point! If you don't have these people in your project/team/organisation then the two previous types won't find each other. The downside of having too much of this attribute is that you ain't going to do anything if all you do is push ideas of others around without creating or reusing things.
From my observations I reckon a ratio of Creatives to Consumers to Connectors needs to be something like 4:2:1.
Incidentally, my guess is that these actually apply to other professions as well but I have even less scientific evidence about those.

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