Armchair Architects: Value of Curiosity in Architecture

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Welcome back to Armchair Architects as part of the Azure Enablement Show. Today we will be discussing the role of curiosity in being an architecture. Our hosts will be David Blank-Edelman and our armchair architects Uli Homann and Eric Charran.


Eric suggests that there is a direct link between curiosity and humility.


From Eric’s point of view, he thinks that there is a direct link between curiosity and humility. Humility is an important ingredient and certainly collaboration across different groups is too, but especially in the architecture discipline. Because in the architecture discipline, there's no other discipline that he can think of in which you go from thinking that you know a lot, and you do know a lot, to the next day being “I've never heard of that and now let me learn about it.” If you're not humble and you're not curious, you might tend to push things away and continue to be enamored with your past successes and the things that you've done and the technologies that you're familiar with.


We probably are all subject to this human characteristic of being comfortable with what we know. Eric thinks that curiosity helps us break out of that perspective. Curiosity is something that you should try to nurture. It doesn't come easy for us as architects or even the broader technical community because our goal is to excise ambiguity; fill it with precision, hopefully true precision, and not false precision, and then be the answer people. And if we're always the answer people, we get used to being the incumbent answer person. And then we lose that ability to be curious. So, when new things come along, we tend to push them away instead of asking “what is this?” Is this an old thing that's new or is this truly a new thing that I should learn more about? Is this a new thing that's being run through the town square such as Uli’s example of pigs running through the town to determine if they're new?


Uli illustrates a common German analogy of running pigs through town.


Uli made a remark that whenever in Germany something brand new or a concept or idea or topic comes along, it's the latest pig that's being run through town and that's really a literal translation of a German saying. Uli uses this saying instead of “this is this is the latest trend we are seeing” and now everybody gets excited. You can use the term of a “hype cycle” or the pigs running through the town interchangeably. One saying is cuter than the other, same idea, as looking at a pig being run through town is always an interesting one, so that's where that comes from.


Uli shares his perspective on the role of curiosity in architecture.


For Uli, curiosity is an invaluable and necessary trait. If you are an architect, and are not curious about learning and continuous learning, which is a very hard thing to do. Balancing what you know with the balancing of what you don't know, which is harder than you imagine, because even with decades of experience, he always feels that there's so much more to learn. Architecture is ultimately a composition activity; you compose capabilities and so forth into an end-to-end solution. And in order to be right about solving the business problem, you have to understand the business side which always changes. You must understand the technology side, which changes even faster. There's always something new going on. The open-source community is incredibly productive and so forth. He learns something new every day that is interesting and so if you're not curious, you're not going to be a good architect because you're used to riding that old horse that you always have been riding to work. In the previous episode we discuss concentration risk and a non-curious architect will get you into the concentration risk problem.


Recommended Next Steps:


 If you’d like to learn more about the general principles prescribed by Microsoft, we recommend Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for platform and environment-level guidance and Azure Well-Architected Framework. You can also register for an upcoming workshop led by Azure partners on cloud migration and adoption topics and incorporate click-through labs to ensure effective, pragmatic training.


You can view the whole video below.


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