Here’s Mike’s Take on telling a story with your architecture.

Wally needs help. He is having difficulties deciding on the following :

  1. Should Wally invest in a plot of land and build his custom dream home on it?
  2. Should Wally purchase a brand new car?
  3. Should Wally invest in stocks instead?
  4. Should Wally take his family for a nice holiday in the Maldives?
  5. Shucks, what about that bathroom leak and the renovation that’s badly needed?

What’s up with Wally (The Current State). So, Wally is in a crossroad of sorts. He has some issues that require his attention. He has plans for an immediate investment in some assets (projects). He wants to keep his his family happy and himself in touch with them. And finally he also has his eyes on the hottest trends in the market today – being a cool, rich. Having had conversations with the family, Wally has left out a an important event – funding his son’s tertiary education!

How Wally envisions his desired outcome (The Architecture Vision). Wally begins to assess his assets and capabilities against his boundaries (constraints). He defines his unmovable boundaries, those which cannot be compromised (principles), eg. no trading his son’s education fund for anything. After much deliberation, he sets out to have a vision where asset growth is the primary objective, and investment returns are used to enhance his lifestyle.

How Wally is going to achieve that outcome (The Architecture). Simplistically, Wally lays out all the goals defined in his vision individually. He then explores options to meet each of those goals (strategy) . For example, one of his goals is to achieve asset growth by increasing his active income. So, options include working with another company for an increased income. He then identifies the key activity / changes (building blocks) required to achieve this, and the effort to do so (gap analysis).

Finally, Wally lays out his execution plan (Solutions, Migration and Governance). So for phase 1, Wally sets out to invest his savings into some funds.

Architecture is often misconstrued with producing awesome diagrams, drawing complex processes and using jargon few understand. A mistake would be to start focusing on the blueprint for Wally’s dream home. Or the land tours and cuisine options in Maldives.

Architecture as a whole guides and defines how an entity transforms. It is an approach. A game plan. And the most important part of this is the people. To make an architecture effective and receptive, people need to understand it. Your architecture has to tell a story.