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SOA and information tech 2009: a year of extreme focus

My recent post of whether SOA and enterprise architects should be "firefighters" this year, and less "architectural" -- based on a post by Ian Finley -- received some interesting comments.To recap, Ian says architects should concentrate more on firefighting this year, since "you don't call an architect when your house is burning.

My recent post of whether SOA and enterprise architects should be "firefighters" this year, and less "architectural" -- based on a post by Ian Finley -- received some interesting comments.

To recap, Ian says architects should concentrate more on firefighting this year, since "you don't call an architect when your house is burning." I said, in response, that the problem is we don't have enough architecture as it is, and even when times are good, we're always firefighting.

Some folks agreed with me. Mike Kavis said that "the reason there are so many fires is that there is so little architecture!"  JP Morganthal said this kind of attitude results in "debt" being incurred, which "will be called when the pendulum swings back toward growth and those businesses that survived the downturn and focused on putting out fires now realize they have a mess to clean up in IT."

Ian provided this feedback:

"I agree with you and all the commentators that urged maintaining a long term view, but I felt I needed to light a fire under architects, and, even more so, vendors and systems integrators.  For most companies, 2009 will not be not business as usual. Our conversations with customers have changed markedly over the last three months. Those that sense that change and capitalize on it will fare the best."

So the lesson is, focus-focus-focus on the essentials. Rob Eamon drove the point home, quoting Steve Maguire's 1994 book, Debugging the Development Process:"

"If you were taking off for a three-week vacation tomorrow, would you work at the same pace today that you normally would? My guess is that you'd work much smarter today than you usually do. You'd probably focus squarely on getting all high-priority items out of the way--no long chats in the halls, no time spent on unimportant e-mail or news, no unnecessary meetings. That's the sense of urgency in action--better focus. ...shouldn't the team be working that way all the time?"

Rob follows up with this question: "If you knew that lean times were coming 6-12 months from now, how would you approach your architecture and project efforts? Would you have better focus? What would you zero in on? Shouldn't we be working that way all the time?"

Well put. Extreme focus is the key phrase for SOA, information technology, and management in 2009.