Why I think I failed as an architect

#retrospective #architect

I was not actually planning to write that, more something about Docker.* these days. But that’s how it is.

I was listening to the Arrested Devops podcast — Episode 38 about Career Development, with Jeff Hackert.

For many reasons lately, I’ve been thinking about my career and what I wanted to do. By the way, I absolutely, positively recommend you listen to that episode (35 minutes, seriously it’s worth it).

The part that made me think about that article is when Jeff talked about making things you do visible. Providing context. Understanding people’s needs.

Architect Failure

Though I retrospectively think I should maybe have pushed sometimes some more evolved/involved solutions, I’m not actually talking about a technical failure.

No, I’m talking about human/social one.

To simplify a bit, the management decided to reorganize the development with dev teams on one side, and a separate architecture team.

Because I had earned technical respect from (at least some of) my coworkers, it went not so badly initially. Some teams were asking for reviews, or even for solutions for issues/requirements they had.

But for some people, developers and maybe even more managers, we were intruders. Not welcome.

What I did

Mainly, I think I stayed in my office way too much, and took that position for granted. Kind of the Ivory Tower issue (well, without the tone I hope. I’ve tried hard to not be condescending especially because of how much I despised self-said Architects who didn’t code).

I thought the requests were going to flow naturally. How wrong, and dumb, I was.

Don’t get me wrong. I was not hiding and playing video-games on my computer :-). I was actually working for some teams. But even those teams eventually didn’t even ask us for help, and worked us around.

What I should have done

I should have hanged out more with the teams (which is somehow ironic I didn’t when you know me). Go see them, ask them if they were needing help. Get involved with them. Simply be more empathetic. Let them know what we did, why, for whom, constantly. Make that publicly available.

I should also have refused to work on some subjects supposed to be useful in 1 or 2 years, without any actual need. How many hours I lost on useless PoCs, studies, that will never get used.

Wrap up

That made me realize something. Something that may be obvious to more experienced people: the fact that the current management structure, the current organization will NOT stay as-is forever. And that you should always strive to break barriers, reach out the people who do the actual work and help them, work with them.

This way, people will know you’re basically useful wherever you are, and whatever position you hold. And that might also transitively prove your team is useful.

If you don’t, then you’re dead. At the next shakeup, you’ll be wiped out. And you will have deserved it.

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