Seek inspiration for great IT architecture solutions.
A June 2009 Fast Company article listed the 10 most creative people in building
architecture. The photos that accompanied
the article offer ample evidence that something weird and wonderful is happening in
the minds of the people responsible for some
of the world’s most wildly imaginative structures. But what about I T architecture? Given
its sharp focus on designing practical technological solutions for business problems,
is there a place for such creativity? And what
role, if any, does creativity play in the day-to-day work of I T architects?
Ben Stopford, architect and development
lead at RBS Global Banking and Markets,
rates creativity as the most important quality
in his role. “Creativity is the key to innovation, which in turn is the key to great technology,” says Stopford. “Great technology
attracts and retains great technologists.”
Stopford describes that attraction and retention as a cyclical process—one that will roll
past architects who lack creativity.
Brian Jimerson, chief architect at Avantia,
describes creativity as “a huge part” of his
role in designing custom technical solutions
that solve business problems for clients.
“Solving those problems requires a lot of
creativity—if it didn’t, someone would’ve
solved them before,” Jimerson says. “Helping
a business with the right mix of technology,
process, and pragmatism is definitely more
of an art than a science.”
While the exact proportions may vary, the
blending of art and science in I T architecture
mirrors civil, landscape, and other architec-
ture disciplines, according to Eric Stephens,
a director of enterprise architecture at
Oracle. “Regardless of the type of architec-
ture, the discipline is an amalgamation of
other disciplines and types of thinking,”
Practical considerations are a significant
part of that amalgam, regardless of whether
the end product is an office building or an
“IT is supposed
to make a business
out how to
is the fun part.”
enterprise IT solution. “The disciplines of
project management, budgeting, and engineering are required to ensure the stability
and operation of the resultant systems,”
Stephens says. Creativity, however, must
enter the picture in dealing with other
equally significant considerations.
“Artistry and asceticism come into
play because the systems we create must
interact with humans,“ says Stephens.
“The best minds in history knew how to
fuse left- and right-brain thinking,” he
adds, citing Leonardo da Vinci and Steve
Jobs as examples.
So what can one do to get those left- and
right-brain hemispheres in peak creative
shape? Jimerson takes a straightforward
approach. “I T is supposed to make a business better,“ he says. “Figuring out how to
accomplish that is the fun part.” He maintains his creative edge in part by keeping
abreast of the evolving technology landscape so that he can apply that knowledge
to determine how best to solve his clients’
Stopford takes a more holistic approach.
He recommends a combination of rest,
introspection, and human interaction.
“Combine periods of deep thought with
interaction with others,” Stopford suggests.
“Utilize different sorts of people. People
who think in similar ways to you are great
for charging through a solution. People
who think differently help challenge your
way of thinking,” he continues, adding that
drawing all of his designs by hand also helps
him think creatively.
.com) is manager of the
on Oracle Technology
Network, the host of the
Oracle Technology Network ArchBeat podcast
series, and the author of the ArchBeat blog
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READ the Fast Company article “The 10 Most
Creative People in Architecture”
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