Reflection and Insights on (some topics of) InfoQ Trends Report 2022
InfoQ has just published its “InfoQ Trends Reports 2022”. This report gathers input from different InfoQ editors (who work in different industries and collaborate with a wide variety of people that publish articles throughout the year). This reports cover different areas and provide a good reference overview of exciting and important trends that are highly relevant for people and organizations designing and building software.
In the following, I share some insights on three topics I actively worked on (with clients and colleagues) in 2022 (and even before). If these are of interest to you, or I can be of help, feel free to check out my articles, talks, and consulting services page for more info (do not hesitate to ping me if you want to discuss possible collaborations).
Increasing traction of Team Topologies
Highlighted as “Early Adopter” in the Culture and Methods section of the report, Team Topologies is being increasingly adopted as a language and method to enable a strong foundation for modern organization design and shaping of operating models that embrace continuous evolution. Its “humanistic” (team-first) approach and principles and patterns show in quite a few of the entries in the document.
I am happy to see this and work in the “core team” of “Team Topologies Valued Practitioners (TTVP)”. We are (together with the authors) continuously advancing the topic and adjacent topics, which should help move forward these ideas and elements to allow organizations to achieve a more sustainable fast flow of change. I look forward to 2023 and continue working on new materials, resources, workshops, etc., that should help scale even further the adoption of Team Topologies.
This topic is coming up more and more. This year it is also highlighted in the report, in particular, the concept of “Architecture Decision Records” (ADRs) - popularized around a decade ago by Michael Nygard as a way to capture and discuss “important design decisions” (i.e., “architecture”). This idea has been gaining momentum, together with a few other related ones, to help “decentralize and scale” architecture decision-making. This year, we have seen an increased interest in this topic. I highlight a great article by Andrew Harmel-Law titled “Scaling the Practice of Architecture, Conversationally”, where he lays out many elements we need to cater to allow for faster and better decision-making.
I have been thinking, writing, and talking about this topic. It is also becoming a core offering of my consulting services. In particular, I wrote an article and also gave a talk on this topic, which I am naming “Architecture Topologies”. The key idea is simple: architecture practices can take different shapes, and they depend on the organization’s culture and overall maturity. It is vital to embrace that and understand where the organization is and how to improve critical elements that allow its architecture practices to improve and evolve (i.e., an organization will have different “architecture topologies” over time, some with explicit architect functions, but as we mature, we may go into models where “anybody architects” - which should allow for better and faster design and decision making). Acknowledging this continuous evolution of architecture practices is vital to enable the organization to improve its ability to design and decide, which should help increase its “flow of change” ability.
I am very excited about continuing to work on this topic. Stay tuned, as I have more writings, talks, and even workshops planned for 2023.
Mainstreaming of Platforms and Developer Experience
Developer experience and Platform as Product (or Platform Engineering) have become “popular terms” over the last few years. To me, this is excellent news, as these are essential topics to help organizations achieve a “sustainable flow of change” and cope with their environments. However, there is a lot of “misuse” of these terms, even becoming “slogans” for commercial products. This is a typical pattern (the same has happened with the “DevOps” term). So, it is crucial to focus on the “signal” over the “noise” and understand the essential principles and ideas that can help leverage the power of these ideas. For example, understand that Platforms are, as Team Topologies defines, ways to “curate” elements that improve the experience of “developers” and people in the organization. In particular, these allow them to reduce their “extraneous” cognitive load, i.e., abstract things they don’t need to own/do to deliver their crucial business differentiating value. For this to work, teams working on Platforms need to be able to listen to the teams and collaborate with them to consolidate those elements in the platforms. Platforms “commoditize” those elements instead of the classic “build and they will use”.
Over the past few years, I have worked extensively on this topic as Principal Tech Lead at bol.com, and in 2022 in my practice as Independent Consultant. It is fascinating helping organizations realize this critical positioning of Platforms. Team Topologies’ explicit language elements to describe platforms and their properties are helping a lot in these discussions (but there is even more - for example, the work of Jabe Bloom on the Three Economies). I look forward to continuing exploring this and related topics, as they seem essential to help organizations scale more sustainably (and also address many of the messy situations we keep on hearing lately of “neglected platforms”).