6 Tactics in the Art of War for the Architect

How to be a smart Samurai for your solution.

Battle planning by gentlemen.
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You have to fight for your solution, dear architect. You may have worked out the best end state by applying a good method along with your training and experience. But it is never enough. There will be forces inimical to its implementation, and you will have to overcome them. 

Here are six tactics in the Art of War for the Architect that will win it for her.

  1. Always have a Plan B and a Plan C, always.

Nothing goes as per plan. But architects have to make things happen. So be ready with a fallback. And another. Go to Plan B as soon as you find Plan A is not working out. Knowing when to fall back is crucial. Develop a sixth sense for it. And if you can push Plans B and C in parallel with Plan A, do so. It will pay off.

2. Three strikes and he’s out, for momentum will carry you through.

If you need someone to do something on which your work depends, set a target. If it does not happen, remind gently and set another deadline. If there’s no result the second time, then demand immediate action, pointing out the impact of the delay. If there’s no outcome the third time, escalate to the person’s manager and yours. As a professional, you have to do it.

If something is critical, even two strikes is an out.

And if it is a matter of life and death, one strike is all you give anyone.

3. Never go into a meeting in a defensive position, because it will knock you down.

Before any meeting in which you will present your work, be on top of your deliverables and make sure you know more than anyone else about your subject. If you are not ready, it is better to decline the meeting, retreat and prepare. It does no one any good otherwise. And it ensures you become potent.

4. Always think of the end-user, and you’ll occupy the high ground.

Architecture is not some lofty endeavour or art. It is as practical a calling as can be. And it is always to serve the end-user of the real systems you are modelling. You have to produce the best results for those end users. That is the only path to success for your customer and your company. So, think from there and work back to your solution. Be prepared to show the journey. It will then be an impregnable architecture, and you will have served your purpose best.

5. Always work out the economics, and you’ll have powerful allies.

Ultimately, the raison d’etre of an architect and architecture is to produce something useful for the world. And if we set aside the architecture created on demand for a pharaoh, emperor or grandiose government for whom the returns may be immaterial, architecture must be cost-effective in the long run. You will find it easier to convince others of the soundness of your model, and you can beat off any challenge if you have worked out how it benefits all concerned, financially. So, work this out and make it sound.

6. Never believe a good story, for scepticism is an incisive weapon.

For any vital input for your architecture, don’t readily accept anyone else’s data or claims of readiness and completeness of something. Get incontrovertible proof. Get it from the horse’s mouth. Check it yourself if you must. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people draw a rosier picture than the reality. It will trip you up. Scepticism is essential to the excellent architect, although not cynicism.

Fight the good fight, architect. You owe it to your solution.

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