I’ve been in software for a while now. I started out on the dev side of things, and within that are the folks who like to use the term “architect” to connote how they have the “big” view of things. There were those who advocated for the “architect” role to be more and more involved in business, move up the chain, etc. Because of course, they are uniquely suited to help the business achieve their goals.
Now I’ve been in “UX” for a while. And there are those who like to use the title “architect” there as well. And yes, there are those who advocate for UX/Design to move up the business chain. Because of course, designers are uniquely suited to help the business achieve their goals. UX is everything of course. (That is a truism as far as I’m concerned.)
I’ve also interacted with folks on the branding side. They may not use the term “architect,” but they do have this sort of “brand is everything” kind of mentality, and of course, they also are uniquely suited to help businesses achieve their goals.
So I had to chuckle today when I read in this article about the “website architect” role that “goes beyond — or rather encompasses — the user interface, user experience, and information architecture of the site” and “needs to have a solid understanding of usability, in-depth knowledge of web development tools, online marketing technologies, and everything else involved in the construction and maintenance of a website.” Okay, so now “website architecture” is everything, and doubtless this role is also uniquely suited to help businesses achieve their goals.
Anybody see a trend?
The funny thing is, to an extent, they’re all right. Considered from certain vantage points, they all are uniquely suited. Any good CEO would want to leverage that unique special sauce from each one.
On the other hand, they can’t all be “everything.” They can’t all “encompass” each other. That aspect of it seems to be simply power grabbing–my discipline, my job, my title is “bigger” than yours. It encompasses yours. It is more important than yours. (And thus I should have more say in/control over what gets done.)
There was a time in my life when I was enchanted with the term “software architect.” I admit. I used it. But I have become increasingly disenchanted with it, as I see more and more people grabbing at the “architect” title and crafting a role with it, more or less as a way to say, “my job is bigger than yours, more important, more encompassing, and thus what I think/say is more valuable to the business.” Now if someone tells me they’re an architect, I sorta cringe.
Everybody needs to just slow down and take a breather. How about we each acknowledge each others’ distinct special sauces and work together to make better stuff? We need mutual respect. We don’t need to imagine that our expertise supersedes and encompasses others’ expertise in order to be valuable and meaningfully contribute. Of course, the saving grace here is that in the end, it is the business itself that is in charge, and a good leader of business will do just that–get surrounded by folks with expertise in all these areas, encourage cross-discipline teamwork, and help ensure that everybody is moving along towards the same shared vision to achieve their goals.