I don’t know what kind of opinion you had of architects. Maybe you are one. Maybe you know one. Maybe you like them. Maybe you don’t.
Regardless, the role isn’t going away. At least, it’s not going away the day after this article is published and I think there might be a real reason for that.
Grudgingly, I have come to admit that there is a need in large organizations with complex systems for some long-term planning and vision-setting. Of course, there are also a lot of risks associated with this kind of activity.
Organizing architectural pursuits around real customer problems and focusing on enabling one value stream at a time, or even one capability within that value stream, enables an architect to greatly improve his effectiveness. The plans that come out of such an effort are more likely to succeed on account of its very limited scope.
Those plans cost less and produce more sustainable products for the same reason. They are easier to communicate to management, developers, and customers and serve as a tool for building a common understanding amongst all the stakeholders in a project. Perhaps most importantly, though, such a limited and value-driven focus allows you to do the critical part of your job – ensuring all the parts will work together to serve a larger purpose – in a lot less time than it takes when pontificating on grand designs.
This means that those of us who want to keep writing software can fulfill our architectural duties and still contribute real features without sacrificing our free time. It also means that someone who enjoys being a full-time architect can cover a lot more ground much more effectively in a short period of time.