The Agile Architect Part 2 — Spend Time with the Teams

This is a continuation of our Agile Architect series which began in Part 1 — Stop Solving Problems.

We’ve seen all too often the Architect who is always in meetings and never interacts with the teams. It's all too easy for an Architect to become disconnected from the reality of the work going on in the trenches of software development. An Architect cannot lead from an isolated ivory tower, they must learn to lead from the front. Architects must learn to embed themselves with the people and teams doing the work.

Build Relationships

Show me an Architect and we’ll find someone who is too intimidated by their perceived rank and authority. The effect that status has on people cannot be escaped, but it’s possible to do something about it. An Architect who builds relationships is one who will be less scary and more approachable. By investing time with people and showing a human side, their expertise will be more sought-out by those doing the work.

Get the Ground Truth

“The devil is in the details” — unfortunately, the time it reaches the Architect, information has often been filtered and sanitized to the point that many of the important details are gone. Avoid the telephone game and go straight to the source. Work directly with people. Pair with them. Generals routinely conduct “battlefield rotations” — going to the front lines, spending time with the troops to get “ground truth”.

It Builds Empathy

People will follow those who spend the time to understand them and their perspective. An Architect who spends time working with their teams will gain appreciation for the challenges and realities of the work. It can also help the Architect become aware of impediments that are slowing them down that they could help remove.

Get Your Hands Dirty

A system cannot be built without a team to build it. A team will be more successful if they’re following someone they respect and trust. Taking part in the work will show the team that you are one of them and that you understand their challenges. Be the first one to do the worst parts of the job and they’ll follow you to the end.

Continue reading the Agile Architect series with The Agile Architect Part 3 — Fail Fast.