Agile Architect to Agile Innovation Architect

What? An agile architect? Why agile? What does it mean?

This is a personal report which shows how my classical architect role changed towards an agile architect in the past year and perhaps how my role transforms to a agile innovation architect role in the future.

Part I: The learning phase

My experience from different companies shows me, that whenever a colleague’s role is not clear or is not specified and/or not communicated, then other colleagues get irritated. This results in responsibilities which are unclear as well as process- or resposibility gaps. Lots of communication is needed to repair the deficits resulting in slower processes, development, ticket throughput, innovation, earnings, success! The company slows down. They don’t reach their declared goals. Colleagues with  unclear roles get more and more nervous. Over time this irritation leads to a loss of motivation!

Loss of motivation

Loss of motivation? Yes a loss of motivation! Let us think about this for a moment. What is demotivation? What does it make with us? Let me tell you my personal experience with this process:
In the beginning it starts as a creepy feeling, which grows over time. In the beginning this loss of motivation doesn’t influence us and we can continue enjoying working hard.
But as this feeling grows, the more and more it compromises our thoughts. In the mids of this phase it slows us down. We have no energy left to work hard and are lost in our thoughts. It becomes impossible to work because we have no motivation. And then we get ill … And when we have no motivation then other colleagues are influenced in other teams and other departments causing a snowball effect which must be avoided!

I have learned over the last two years, that everyone can be affected like this, including myself!

In a seminar „how to reduce stress“ which MyToys offered me, I learned that stress is the distance between my private expectation and the surrounding reality. Higher stress levels are produced as this distance increases. Loss of motivation is a then a result from „ongoing stress“.
My conclusion is that if I can reduce my personal stress level, then it can help me to get motivated again.

Thank you MyToys for the opportunity to visit this seminar!

Avoid stress

Today i know two ways how I can avoid stress and loss of motivation.

Firstly, i can try to change the reality, so that the reality better fits my expectation. This requires processes and/or persons to change. Since people often have other expectations which don’t fit my expectations then this approach will only work if they are prepared to change their expectations.

Alternatively, I can change my expectation on topics so that it better matches the reality or the expectations of others. I have to ask myself why I put value on a particular expectation which never or only with too much of my energy becomes reality.

I have often realized, that it is faster and the outcome is better, when I reflect each time whether I can change my expectations. However innovation often has to change the expectation of others.

I have  learned that it is all about expectations!

Balance expectation changes

A balance between our expectations and the expectation of others, opens the door for common goals which can satisfy everyone.

How to handle expectations fairly? Behind every expectation is a value which a person has learned. We need to find out these values. Ask the person what the value is and if it makes sense to keep these values? Then think about the situation. Maybe the value is based on wrong or outdated information. If this is the case, the value must be removed and the expectations changed.

We need a fair discussion about this – otherwise it can get emotional and may result in nervousness and a loss of motivation.

Good team players have  learned that a business discussion should always be rational and constructive (and never emotional). As such communication is key when expectations need to change.

Part II: Constructing an agile architect role

I started changing my architects role to always be motivated and productive!

Previously my role was: specify new concepts and let them implement by the developers. (I now find this funny!)
I learned fast that this doesn’t fit and recognized it after 1.5 projects. I was losing motivation and had a lot of stress.

I learned to change my expectations which was not simple! It was great to see the positive effect and now I will share how I changed my role.

Self reflection

The outcome from my self reflection was: It is possible that the best concept from my perspective is perhaps not the best or acceptable from a developers perspective. I tried to fit all the needs AND wishes, but only when it is possible and only when it fits in my strategy. I was losing motivation.

Others expectations

Everyone has a different technology background. Their competence is related to their personal technical tier, the global information they have, their culture, language, personal expieriences and lots more! People want an outcome which was achieved from themself or from the helpf from themself. And they want to be proud of!

Therefore we need to define the goals together with the others. This results in more motivation for everyone since everyone gets to work on „their topics“. Everyone helps to bring an innovation live.

Defining goals together is a way of balancing the expectations as early as possible.

My new work role

This change in expectations led me to asking the question: What should be my personal working role in the future? My condition is: I want to deliver innovation without stress. The architect role changed to an „agile architect“ role.

The new orientation:

The role is no longer responsible for specifying concepts or create new architectures. The agile architect looks at processes and technologies, identifies problems and informs the colleagues. Additionally he can be responsible for presenting that a change is feasible.

This information provides the motivation for change! I can create demonstrators or prototypes but I have to mentor others to find a complete solution. Additionally, I act as a mentor and partner for other solutions by providing big picture knowledge which a developer cannot have.

The agile architect motivates developers and teams to change something using his deep technological background. This role is unique being very visionary, very innovative and inspiring  other colleagues from his gathered knwoledge, when thinking about the future and future development.

Some examples of initiatives I have started are Slack, Codereviews with Crucible, TechVision architecture, Openshift, Experiments for continuous delivery, Chapter and Guild work etc.

Part III – The future

Digital transformation

The world is changing faster and faster. Technologies increase, eCommerce will change, programming is getting simpler with higher languages and better frameworks. Every startup today with a few people can be a valid competitor tomorrow. This is called the digital transformation. When we want to succeed in the future, then we have to align with the digital transformation! Therefore we need a permanent stream of innovations to be in front of our competitors and to wow our customers in the future too!

The role „agile architect“ can be one new entry point for innovation from the technical perspective.

Agile architect in the future

My expectation is, that with self responsible teams, the teams will be responsible for innovation allowing  agile architects to focus more on innovation.

The agile architect remains a technological and conceptual mentor. This is needed to provide a balance between details (team) and big picture (agile architects).

The agile architect needs to empower others to think about producing innovations. Some examples are BigData and Machine Learning. There are proven paradigms and technologies that have the power to change markets.


Agile innovation architect

The agile innovation architect needs an ultra visionary look in the future to unterstand upcoming technologies through deep technical knowledge! This needs to be combined with soft skills to communicate and to teach such innovations. He should report about newest technologies from articles, conferences, white papers, etc. and make presentations, videos, reports, blog entries.

I am motivated to develop into an agile innovation architect!


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