Drawing a line…

Sometimes, however experienced you are as an architect and however “strategic” you are in your work, sometimes it pays to get right back to basics. The issue often is “how effective is our communication?”

Our profession has a very simple foundation of communication through pictures and words. If we don’t get those right then we fail, so it is right, sometimes, to go back and ask yourself whether you are getting the basics of communication right.

I read a book called “101 Things I Learned at Architecture School” by Matthew Frederick. It is about the basics of “traditional” architecture rather than enterprise architecture but I was surprised how much I could get out of the book and find relevant to what we do.

The first of the 101 “Things” is “How to draw a line”. Just as in traditional architecture, pictures at various levels of formality are critical for our communication.

You need to buy the book to get the specific advice however this page prompts a number of questions:

  • what does each line on your diagram mean?
  • do the differences between lines — thick, thin, colours, dashes, dots, arrowheads, etc. all have clear unambiguous meanings?
  • are you routing lines so they are easy to follow?
  • are they crossing?
  • are there too many?
  • do they take from the “beginning” of the diagram to the “end”?
  • when you sketch on a whiteboard, are your lines strong and bold showing certainty in your ideas or are they weak?
  • do your diagrams leaving people nodding in confusion?

The most fundamental tool for an enterprise architect is the simple line. Are you using it right?