Bart Du Bois

How to foster a knowledge-sharing appetite as an Architectural leader

We also gave a webinar about the subject. Click here to watch the replay and download the slides.

 

At the dawn of Architectural practice, there was collaborative content creation. And at the apocalyptic end, it will still be there. After all, content creation is part of an Architect’s daily life. Done well, the collaborative effort of your entire practice can transcend beyond a single initiative and foster your community’s knowledge-sharing appetite. This consequently results in increased expertise across your team members. Ensuring that it is ‘done well’ is key, and we’re here to show you how to do just that.

 

Balancing internal and external information needs

Historically, content creation in Architecture departments has mostly focused on meeting internal and external information needs within the scope of an initiative. Internally, the practice has mostly consolidated all information pertaining to the initiative, partially based on external input. At the other end of the spectrum, information about the Architecture and assistance had to be provided to stakeholders. Deliverables such as Solution Architecture Documents (SAD) were therefore created to achieve these goals.

 

Leverage content beyond the initiative

However, content created solely for one more or less defined initiative locks the shared knowledge into a specific instance of your technology landscape. As such, it doesn’t boost the general expertise of team members so much as just their narrow knowledge of this one project. Nowadays, many organizations are breaking down their IT landscapes into products instead of initiatives. Furthermore, they are optimizing those products for autonomy. The creation of Architectural content should, consequently, realign to this new context. This means leveraging it beyond your current initiative and moving towards product-based Architectural content. If you need to draw up a decision tree, for example, you might want to make it a tad more generalized so that you can reuse it across your projects.

This move offers a stronger focus on permanent and more general documentation. It facilitates documenting the Architectural footprint of a release. Moreover, it’s through this broad and reusable content that true knowledge and expertise is shared and fostered within your team.

 

Never underestimate your impact

For your team, this new way of creating Architectural content will feel strange at first and might be met with unease. After all, not everyone might be comfortable with doing work that doesn’t solely benefit the project they are working on right now. As an Architectural leader, your job is to encourage them to do so anyway, and boost your community’s eagerness to share their knowledge. You are the one your peers look to for expertise and experience. So it stands to reason that you hold a lot of sway in this regard. Creating this knowledge-sharing environment is not easy, but these two points can help you, as a leader, to do so:

  1. Create a safe environment: as an Architectural leader, you need to create an encouraging space where people feel comfortable going beyond what is currently demanded of them. Creating more general Architectural content doesn’t always immediately benefit the initiative an Architect is working on. For many, this might feel like they aren’t doing the job they were asked to, and they will be reprimanded for this. So you need to let them know it’s okay to do so.
  2. Incentivize knowledge consolidation through social esteem: make your team members feel like their contribution to the knowledge pool is highly valued and appreciated. Once you’ve created a safe space, you need to encourage people to create content. Boosting your knowledge creators’ social esteem is a great way to do this. Give great work a platform, or simply compliment a member on a job well done.

Tools to collaborate on content

Content creation doesn’t happen on an isolated island, of course. Your team members will most likely regularly collaborate on this creation. There are quite a few tools available to make this a streamlined and clear-cut process. The following are tried and tested methods for supporting collaboration:

  • Co-creation using workshop facilitation tools such as digital whiteboards, lean modeling software, and survey or audience response applications. For whiteboards, you can use Miro, Lucidspark, or Microsoft Whiteboard. Draw.io and Lucid are great for modeling. Finally, tools like Mentimeter and Kahoot are excellent for polling.
  • To properly manage and govern content, you need tools that help you publish and consume documents regarding guidelines, standards, training material, example deliverables, and more, in a structured way. SharePoint, Alfresco, or File drive are excellent for achieving this.
  • Wiki-style tools such as Confluence, Notion, or even OneNote are perfect for actually authoring content collaboratively and elaborating on different topics.
  • There’s plenty of information available on Architectural topics on the web and in books. You need to curate the content that you pull in about innovation and change. This requires decently identifying, categorizing, and qualifying references and literature through bookmarking, reviews, and annotations. Diigo, Hypothes.is, and GoodReads can help with this.

 

 Want to find out more about collaboration on content creation and other tools and processes in the Architectural practice? Download the slides below and watch our free webcast on the subject. You can also always reach out to our experts through info@xplus.eu.

Architectural processes and tools

In a previous webinar, we talked about how to lead as an Architect. So we also took the time to focus on the tools and processes that can help you to achieve this goal. Four experts shared their insights on this subject in a free webinar on Friday, March 5th at 8:30 a.m. We explained how to structure and manage collaborations, deal with backlogs, and much more. You can watch the webcast here or download the slides.

Download the slide deck

 

Speakers and topics:

Alain PeirensAlain Peirens – Chief Technology Officer and Chief Architect at AXA Belgium

The challenge of structuring and managing the inherently collaborative nature of architectural work.

 

 

Laurent Cornet

Laurent Cornet – Enterprise Architect Lead at XPLUS
The architectural backlog as the vehicle to capture, prioritize and follow up on what requires architectural attention and effort.

 

 

Bart Du BoisBart Du Bois – Director XPLUS Academy

How collaborative content creation is the alpha and omega of architects’ daily activities.

 

 

Pieter DuboisPieter Dubois – Partner, Executive Management Consultant, and Lead Enterprise Architect at XPLUS

How to make an inventory of relevant facts for future reference as a lever for effectiveness and efficiency.