by Leon Rosenshein


How do we get great designers? Great designers design, of course.

                          -- Fred Brooks

So how are we supposed to get great architects, if they only get the chance  to architect fewer than a half-dozen times in their career?

                         -- Ted Neward

If you don’t know what an architectural kata is, think of it this way. It’s a low risk opportunity to design a green-field solution based on a simple (½ page) RFP. In the before times we did these in-person. Usually as a group of strangers at a conference or other kind of gathering, but sometimes as intact teams or cross team, site based sessions. Lately, like everything else, they’ve gone virtual. Last year a group of us did the inaugural O’Reilly kata event. Our team, the SelfDrivenTeam, placed in the top 10 and made it to the semi-finals. Looks like O’Reilly is doing another round next month.

Normally it’s a 2-3 hour, time-boxed event, but because it’s a virtual event, they gave us a few weeks to put together the initial proposal and then more time to build the final preparation. And because they’re not interactive you need to be a little clearer up front about the why’s and their implications. You also get to show off your sales and marketing techniques as part of the final presentation. If you’re interested in putting together a team and have any questions just let me know. Happy to discuss and/or provide feedback and pointers.

Either way, katas are a great way to take a break from your day to day work and try something new. The time commitment is low, but the rewards can be high. You get to think about a different domain. You get to approach something without years of legacy code you need to support. You can try out different architectural styles and see how they fit together in a new space. You get to collaborate with people you might not normally get to work with. And, depending on the venue, you can get direct feedback from your peers (in-person) or leading experts in the field (O’Reilly).

And if anyone wants to have a kata event for their team/org once we’re back in the office let me know. I’m sure we can work something out.