Monthly Archives: August 2010

Why vs. How

In a heated discussion with a colleague yesterday I blurted something out that.. while at the time seemed trivial, was actually a relatively thought-provoking assertion. I yelled “It’s not the how you care about anymore.. it is the why!”..

Hmm.. wtf does that mean?

Well, this is the way I see it. When I was working as a Solution Architect building software for different companies, I spent most of my time figuring out the nuts an bolts behind a solution. How do we implement this pattern? How do I configure this server? How do we design this widget. Very specific, tactical,…. focused. But.. for the last 3 years I have been doing something a slight bit different. These hows.. are essentially not as important (at least to me). 

But why?

In a profession where it is actually very hard to qualify the work we do, I have found it is easier to describe myserlf as an Enterprise Architect rather than any other particular IT role. In reality, I am a combatant in the battle against doing things the wrong way for the wrong reason. Most of my time is spent working with numerous technology teams, helping them identify and implement solutions to problems that span organizational boundaries. Sometimes they are business problems identified and rationalized by a business group, and sometimes they are purely architectural uplift. In either case, I find myself being forced to justify my recommendations based on my current knowledge and past experiences (duh 😉 ). That substantiation typically manifests itself as me describing WHY some particular team should do something some particular way. I say things like “because that is the appropriate system of record for that data”.. or “because SOA principles dictate XYZ…”. It’s almost dissatisfiying in some way.

enough commentary… I am not complaining as much as I am adding gypsum to the concrete that defines my role. As a Solution Architect, I spent my time with a much more focused mission; “Do this thing and do it this way”. Stepping away from that to the more abstract world of Enterprise Architecture, I spend my time saying “this is WHY you do this thing this way”.