Quick Thoughts on My Time at the IDesign Architecture Clinic

Doug Durham, Andy Unterseher, and I recently returned from an IDesign Architecture Clinic held in Kansas City. This week-long class was taught by Michael “Monty” Montgomery, who has a very engaged and driven approach to education. He provided a lot of real-world / from the trenches feedback that I certainly appreciate.

We started the week going over the IDesign methodology (which Monty referred to as “The Method”). Getting a refresher on the core tenants of The Method is always helpful.

Tuesday through Thursday, we participated in mini design sessions. We would listen to an interview in the morning, followed by an afternoon filled with each team trying to design a system that supports the requirements we learned about that morning. Then the day would finish with the presentation of our designs, after which Monty would give each team a score of “smelly”, “unripe”, “functional”, or “approved”. The whole process was both humbling and extremely helpful.

The limited amount of time each team had to build their solution forced a focus on just “getting something done”. This was a challenge. We couldn’t just stumble through the design process; we had to sprint. And when you’re moving quickly through complex projects like system development, details will be missed. But at the same time, it forced us to face head-on some of the most critical issues (such as finding the core volatilities).

As I reflect on the week, I think my biggest takeaway was seeing the many different system designs that were developed under pretty hefty time constraints. The rapid analysis of system designs showed many perspectives on architecture. It’s interesting to see how other software engineers and architects think about system design.

I highly recommend taking a look into attending the Architecture Clinic if you are an experienced software developer or an engineer (if you’ve already participated in the Architect’s Master Class).

Learning never ends, and this is a great way to “level up” your skills and knowledge.