Measurement and Management

Over the years this blog has evolved, as my job has changed.  From software delivery manager, consulting architect, to enterprise business architect.  It has often been about management and leadership because those topics have been at the front of my immediate list of problems in delivering software.  Today I read this thoughtful post… by Henry Mintzberg that arrived in the form of a retweet from a respected blogger and agilista.

In the post Henry pretty much destroys the old aphorism “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”  Except even after reading his rather thorough diatribe, I disagree, and I don’t think he actually offered any suggestions for how to manage things that “can’t be measured”.  In fact, what he seems to be railing against is something that he says way towards the bottom – which is measurement as a substitute for management.Continue Reading

A Proliferation of Architects


One of the things that I have observed over the course of this century is the transition away from traditional “Data Processing” titles like programmer, programmer analyst, systems analyst, etc. The key evidence of this trend is the proliferating of self-aggrandizing titles involving the term architect. In 1985 when I graduated, I don’t remember every hearing of a software architect or a network architect, or God forbid an enterprise architect or an application architect or a solutions architect or any such thing.

I suppose it started with the transition from Mainframe style computers toward what we now refer to as distributed systems. First everything was mainframe and dumb terminals, then it was PC’s. Then it was networks of PC’s and Servers. For a while it was Client/Server and then multi-tier or n-tier and finally the generalization of the term distributed systems. Different computers doing different parts of the work in different places, mostly by “collaborating” with each other.

The programmers who worked on distributed systems had much more diverse titles. They were software developers, application developers, database developers, user interface developers, and with the advent of the internet and the world wide web, there were web developers. Back in the day, there were programmers who worked on the internals of systems that no user would ever see. Those people were called systems programmers, now in the age of distributed systems, their new self-aggrandized title was software engineer! Then as these servers and n-tier platforms started to become more complex, every server product needed a dedicated administrator so the unix operating system need a unix admin and the database needed a database admin and pretty soon we had java “containers” that needed their own admins. The networks that connected all the computers together needed administrators and pretty soon the whole thing got very complicated.

As these systems grew more and more complex, we started to realize that the genius-wizards who were good enough at their job to be able to see the big picture and to help us straighten things out when they got wrapped around the axle deserved a special title “Architect”. This brings me to the ultimate question for this blog post:

“What the hell does an architect have to do with information technology?”

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