… and waving your arms around. Bob Rhubart in his May/June Oracle Magazine article more seriously argues the role it was about communication. Some listening but a lot of explaining.
Rhubart also suggests the software architect role is little understood. This isn’t surprising often the role depends on the personality of the person doing the role and the characteristics of the company in which they work.
Software Architecture (or Technical Design Authority as it was called when I was training) in a large technical organisation such as Fujitsu, BT and Oracle is very much focused on designing new solution to a set of requirements and documenting. At News International the Architect in effect decided if the project could go ahead by designing a solution that was costed and sent to New York for the financing. When I designed a new version of MySun for 2010 UK elections I spoke to the chaps in The Sun newspaper once and all my explanations was poured into a single document which was read by another architect signed off and probably never read again.
In smaller or project focused companies the architect get the chance to deliver the project, either coupling the role with business analysis or lead developer. There is heaps of communications in a role like this. The excellent architect at Iris Digital who created my recent London 20212 mascot web based games was constantly communicating between me the client our hosting suppliers and his own creative teams. Weekly detailed phone calls, documents and answering questions on email, this architect was certainly explaining a whole lot as Rhubart puts it.
In the end it all depends on personality of the person. The worst architects are always the ones who refuse to explain the solution, don’t make the time or worse assume the audience is too stupid to understand. It is sad but I see this happen far too often.
Thankfully there are great software architects out there and whatever style of software architect they may be, it won’t be long before you see them describing their solutions by drawing lots of boxes or waving their arms to show their latest creation.