Do Architects spend too much time on theological debate and not enough time on evangelical action?
Posted by Doug Walters on 27th November 2013
I am a member of a number of different architecture forums on LinkedIn. I follow discussions avidly and occasionally post when I feel I have something of value to contribute. Over time, I have become increasingly aware that many threads reveal striking divisions within the profession of Architecture. I warmly welcome healthy debate, but all too often I see protagonists of different camps simply scoring points.

As architects, are we spending too much time on introspective debate about definitions and methodology and not enough time “spreading the gospel?”
Debate involves listening as well as advancing your own views, and I don’t see much evidence of views being modified by the debates, or any consensus being reached. If I am right, this is a cause of great concern

I think we'd all agree that a healthy and influential architecture community is a major contributor to business success, but in my opinion, there is too much "points-scoring" in these groups, rather trying to arrive at consensus and unity. I'm certain that this is symptomatic of a general malaise within the architecture profession and the cause of architecture is suffering as a result.

I have been working in IT for 36 years and in the ITA and EA space for 17 years, and during that time I have seen the focus of influence shift overwhelmingly to the project, and as a result, too often leading to “silo-thinking” which is anathema to architectural thinking. I believe this "silo-thinking" has done incalculable damage to businesses.

At the core of project management are the twins: control & discipline. This is at the very heart of why project management has corralled all the other IT disciplines and made them subservient. Yet by definition, projects are artificial and temporary constructs; the solution is the enduring theme, and architecture and architects have inherent authority in this domain.

One of the main reasons that we as architects have failed to exercise authority for the common good is the internecine strife and "religious wars" evidenced in these forums. For example, TOGAF or PEAF – is it really important? Surely it is more important that a business adopts an architectural as opposed to a project (aka silo) approach?

My own view is that there is no silver bullet for architecture; there is a myriad of contexts which in turn suggest different approaches or emphasis. Of course, this is a harder message for the inexperienced architect who wants a step-by-step guide, but I personally don't think that is an issue. Almost by definition, an architect should have a substantial body of experiences under his / her belt before assuming the title, and should spend a significant time being mentored (something that many senior architects neglect.) The various flavours of architectural approach then provide a cook book of recipes, rather than providing a proscriptive methodology.

The over-riding concern should be to promote an architectural as opposed to a silo approach to configuring the enterprise, and the thrust of debate within these forums should be to advance the cause of architecture through arriving at consensus, rather than promoting one approach over another.



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