Monday, November 05, 2007

Democratizing Architecture Creation

Tom Haskins' poses an intriguing possibility in his Democratizing knowledge creation.

Is it possible that self-directed learners could become the norm, rather than the exception?

The article is well worth a read. In particular, this paragraph got my attention.

We previously relied on experts to fix our ignorance, superstitious beliefs and flawed models. Now it appears that the experts have the wrong idea. Expertise cannot fix our misconceptions because it operates with a flawed premise. We cannot be fixed without getting that wrong idea ourselves. We become dependent on expertise if we fall for the common misconception of learning. We create systems where learning is a noun, experts exercise their authority over us and knowledge creation is aristocratic.
In this case, the word 'expert' is used in the context of academic credentials. That flawed premise is not, however, limited to the halls of academia.

The archetypal ivory towers of Enterprise Architecture and other governance functions are particularly prone to this same thinking. It is no accident that most Enterprises struggle with understanding the value of EA. People naturally repulse from the authority of mandated truth or 'fixing' the error of their ways. I have no doubt EA people are similarly apt to be repulsed. We are talking about a fundamental shift in the value provided by experts.

The true value of expertise comes when it is available for conversation. We refine our own understanding when we expose our knowledge to others around us, so long as we allow the interaction to occur in both directions. As Tom mentions, we reflect on the differences as we engage with our surroundings.

I've noticed an interesting phenomena in the architectural conversations of my day-to-day work. As the conversations evolve, key architectural principles and constraints (stock in trade) tend to be co-opted by others around me. I hear the principles and constraints echoed in conversations around me. The organization internalizes the knowledge and is more likely to provide productive feedback when issues arise.

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