I sometimes pick up a business book to broaden my horizons. The latest one happens to be The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni.

According to Lencioni, an organization needs to be both smart and healthy in order to succeed.

Smart characteristics:

  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Technology

Healthy characteristics:

  • Minimal Politics
  • Minimal Confusion
  • High Morale
  • High Productivity
  • Low Turnover

As a sofware engineer, the following statement by Lencioni caught my eye as something to note as it hints at what one may suspect. Namely that one cannot expect software engineering expertise, and software architecture in particular, to make an unhealthy organization healthy.

When an organization is unhealthy, no amount of heroism or technical expertise is going to make up for the confusion and politics that take root.

It may still be worth asking the question as to whether a software architect and software architecture could have a significantly negative impact on the health of an organization. In my mind the answer is undoubtedly yes.

In other words, the actions of a software architect could lead to the following:

  • Increasing Levels of Politics
  • Increasing Confusion
  • Lower Morale
  • Lower Productivity
  • Higher Turnover

In my mind, the take-away is to simply bear this in mind and ideally to explicitly include the avoidance of the above as quality attributes when designing a system and engaging with stakeholders.

One could argue that most would take this for granted, but I don’t think that is prudent.