Design rulez!

Ruth Malan writes about software architecture, providing deep insights and entertainment in a great package. To me, her insights seem readily applicable to design and architecture work way beyond software-intensive systems, including service design.

I was going to write about–alright, link to–her work on Conceptual Architecture today, but I’m afraid this will have to wait for another day as this caught my eye: Design Rulez!   (Make sure you also read the continuation dated 7/19/10.)

I frequently observe the urge to jump from initial ideas, e.g. alleged requirements, to concrete implementations (or renderings) of these ideas, e.g. code, bypassing conceptual design and/or architecture. Ruth describes some of the effects of doing this:

When we put working code in front of someone, they work at tuning that–the mindset is small delta. That’s a generalization, of course, but generally once we are reacting to something concrete, the concrete thing shapes our expectation, and we tweak that. Instead of having a whole gamut of design options in front of us, we have narrowed the design space. So early on, if we really want to be creative, to explore the market and design opportunity, we need to keep people in the zone of possibility.

In my experience, this urge, behaviour and effects are not specific to software development.

To me conceptual design and/or architecture are essential activities for achieving truly satisfactory results. If our clients and colleagues don’t see that, perhaps we could do a better job of demonstrating (and delivering?) the benefits of our conceptual work.

Also, expending significant effort on a conceptual level makes many people feel uneasy, inviting the resistance to the party and the lizard to rear its head. Perhaps we could do a better job of helping others to work with this uneasiness?

I certainly can do better on both counts. Thoughts, anyone?



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