J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

January, 2009

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Microsoft Application Architecture Guide 2.0 Impact

    • 8 Comments

    It's a platform, a playbook, and a language for application architecture.

    ArchitectureMetaFrame_2

    At a high level, that's how I think about our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide and Application Architecture KB.

    The work has become a focal point both internally and externally as a playbook for the Microsoft application platform.  It’s less of a guide, and more of a platform.  Essentially, we’ve framed out a durable, evolvable backdrop for application architecture that we can build on in terms of products, tooling, services and experiences.  I get daily/weekly mails from folks inside and outside the company that want to align their efforts with the frames and approach. 

    I think of the frames as collection of hot spots.  The frames help cut through information overload and provide a common mental model.  They also help identify hot spots in architecture and design that are opportunities for improvement.  They also help map existing bodies of pattern work to relevant decisions that shape applications.

    Here's a few data points that I think highlight the impact:

    • As of today, we’re the #5 and #9 position in terms of downloads out of 7,328 projects.
    • As of today, we're #9 and #16 in terms of page views out of 7,328 projects on CodePlex.
    • Grady Booch says we’ve defined a language for describing our classes of applications.  See Grady Booch on the Microsoft Application Architecture Guide 2.0.
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    Web Application with Domain Entity Application Pattern

    • 8 Comments

    We created a Web Application with Domain Entity Application Pattern as part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project.  The purpose is to show a baseline architecture based on patterns.

    Scenario
    Here's the backdrop we use for the baseline architecture:

    Scenario

    Pattern Solution
    Here's our pattern overlay:

    PatternsSolution (2)

    Tech Solution
    Here's our technology overlay:

    TechnicalSolution

    Application Pattern
    You can review the full application pattern on CodePlex at:

    Feedback

    1. What are 3 things you like about the approach?
    2. What are 3 things you would improve?
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    Application Patterns for Application Architecture

    • 7 Comments

    We created an initial set of Application Patterns as part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project.   The purpose of the application patterns is to show a skeletal solution for common end-to-end applications.  Each application pattern includes a scenario, a pattern solution, and a technical solution.  This provides you with a relatively stable backdrop and starting point to reuse lessons learned from successful applications.

    Application Patterns
    Here's our initial set of application patterns:

    Example Application Pattern
    The heart of each application pattern revolves around the scenario, the pattern overlay, and the technology overlay:

    Scenario
    Here's the backdrop we use for the baseline architecture:

    Scenario

    Pattern Solution
    Here's our pattern overlay:

    PatternsSolution (2)

    Tech Solution
    Here's our technology overlay:

    TechnologySolution (2)

    Application Pattern Template
    Here's the core structure of each application pattern:

    Section Description
    Key Characteristics Identifies the distinctions that impact the application architecture and design. Helps you quickly identify whether the scenario is relevant for your situation.
    Scenario A brief illustration of the deployment scenario and main application parts.
    Key Characteristics Identifies the distinctions that impact the application architecture and design. Helps you quickly identify whether the scenario is relevant for your situation.
    Pattern Solution Provides an overaly of patterns on top of the key application parts.
    Pattern Solution Details Elaborates on the patterns. Includes pattern summaries and any relevant example information.
    Technical Solution Provides an example overlay of technologies.
    Technical Solution Details Elaborates on the technologies. Includes technology summaries and any relevant example information, such as code snippets or psuedocode.
    Additional Resources Provides a set of directly relevant resources where you can find more information.

    Feedback

    1. What are 3 things you like about the approach?
    2. What are 3 things you would improve?

    My Related Posts

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    Lessons Learned in 2008

    • 5 Comments

    I posted my Lessons Learned in 2008 on Sources of Insight.  2008 was a pretty insightful year for me.  I met a lot of great people, read a lot of books, and learned a lot along the way.  I recapped my top 10 lessons here.

    Top Ten Lessons for 2008

    • Adapt, adjust, or avoid situations. Learn how to read situations. Some situations you should just avoid.  Some situations you should adapt yourself, as long as you play to your strengths.  Some situations you should adjust the situation to set yourself up for success.  See The Change Frame.
    • Ask questions over make statements.  If you want to get in an argument, make statements.  If you want to avoid arguments, ask questions.
    • Character trumps emotion trumps Logic.  Don’t just go for the logical win.  Win the heart and the mind follows.  Build rapport.  Remember the golden rule of “rapport before influence.  Have the right people on your side.   If you win the right pillars first, it’s a domino effect.  It’s part of social influence.  See Character Trumps Emotion Trumps Logic.
    • Develop a routine for exceptional thinking.  Create a preperformance routine that creates consistent and dependable thinking.  Work backwards from the end in mind.  Know what it’s like when you’re at your best.  Model from your best experiences.  Success leaves clues.  Turn them into a routine.  Set time boundaries.  Don’t let yourself take as long as it takes.  Work has a way of filling the available hours. Set a timebox and improve your routine until you can shift gears effectively within your time boundaries.  See Design a Routine for Exceptional Thinking.
    • Give your best where you have your best to give.   Design your time to spend most of your time on your strengths.  Limit the time you spend in your weaknesses.   Play to your strengths.  When you play to your strengths, if you get knocked down, it’s easier to get up again.  It’s also how you unleash your best.  See Give Your Best Where You Have Your Best to Give.
    • Label what is right with things.  There’s been too much focus on what’s wrong with things.  Find and label what’s right with you.  We all have a deep need to know what’s right with us.  Shift from labeling what’s wrong, to labeling what’s right. See Label What is Right with Things.
    • One pitch at a time.  Focus on one pitch at a time.  Hook on to one thing.  Be absorbed in the moment, no matter what’s at stake.  Let results be the by-product of what you’re doing.  Don’t judge yourself while you’re performing.  Don’t rearrange your work; rearrange your focus.  See One Pitch at a Time.
    • Spend 75 percent on your strengths.  Very few people spend the majority of their time on their strengths.  Create timeboxes for your non-negotiables.  You’re not your organization’s greatest asset until you spend your time on your strengths.  Activities that you don’t like, hurt less, if you compartmentalize them to a smaller chunk of your day.  See Spend 75 Percent on Your Strengths.
    • Ask Solution-focused questions.   Ask things like “how do we make the most of this?” … “what’s the solution?” … “if we knew the solution, what might it be?”  Believe it or not, a lot of folks get stuck unless you add the “if you did know the solution …” or “what might it be?”  See Solution-Focused Questions.
    • Use stress to be your best.  It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you make of it.  Distinguish stress from anxiety.  Stress is your body’s response.  Anxiety is your mind’s response.   See Use Stress to Be Your Best.
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    Eight Big Trends

    • 4 Comments

    While researching the future, I came across the free E-Book, What Comes Next? A Trends Perspective for Our Future, by Jim Carroll.  I think Jim shined the light on some very key trends that are reshaping and redefining today's business.

    The 8 Trends

    1. Analytics is Hot.
    2. Small is the New R&D.
    3. Attitude and Amusement.
    4. Time Disappears.
    5. Resistance to Change Retires.
    6. Careers End.
    7. Knowledge & Skill Banks.
    8. Interactivity Redefines.

    The 8 Trends Explained
    I quoted my favorite lines from Jim's guide to help characterize the trends:

    • Analytics is Hot.  "The 21st century is all about math: some of the most unique, innovative ideas are emerging with these types of analytic projects. This is where the next billion dollar industries are being born."
    • Small is the new R&D.  "Today, the global R&D process has changed, and small
      is big. The global, infinite idea loop allows topic experts to share their latest research and insight with their global peers on a continuous basis. It’s a fundamental
      transformation in which most new scientific discoveries now percolate from the bottom up."
    • Attitude and Amusement.  "The fact is, you’ll need them. That’s why workforce
      engagement is the big issue — you’ll only be able to get the staff you need if you can keep them active, engaged, interested and amused. A entirely different workplace concept that is radical, yet necessary."
    • Time Disappears.  "The major trend going forward is the collapse of time. There’s no time to plan anymore - there is just a need for action. While we still need budgets to manage and control, they’ll have to be constantly adjusted to deal with new realities. In this context, volatility is the new normal : the concept of risk management, for example, is transitioning quickly to one of risk containment."
    • Resistance to Change Retires.  "The coming generation of senior management aggressively pursues and implements new ideas. While the first is reluctant to embrace new business models, the next steamrollers them. Expect velocity!
    • Careers End. "Your paycheck will come from: the global, itinerant, part-time, skills-for-hire economy."
    • Knowledge & Skills Banks.  "The capital of the 21st century isn’t financial : it’s experiential knowledge that is extremely scarce and specialized."
    • Interactivity Redefines.  "Every industry will soon be transformed by the forthcoming era of “pervasive connectivity.”  Essentially, every device and thing around us is about to become plugged in — leading us to an era of interactivity and connectivity that is mind-boggling in scope."

    My Related Posts

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    RIA Application Pattern

    • 2 Comments

    We created a RIA Application Pattern as part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project.  The purpose is to show a baseline architecture based on patterns.

    Scenario
    Here's the backdrop we use for the baseline architecture:

    Scenario

    Pattern Solution
    Here's our pattern overlay:

    PatternsSolution (2)

    Tech Solution
    Here's our technology overlay:

    TechnicalSolution

    Application Pattern
    You can review the full application pattern on CodePlex at:

    Feedback

    1. What are 3 things you like about the approach?
    2. What are 3 things you would improve?
  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Web Service with REST Application Pattern

    • 2 Comments

    We created a Web Service with REST Application Pattern as part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project.  The purpose is to show a baseline architecture based on patterns.

    Scenario
    Here's the backdrop we use for the baseline architecture:

    Scenario

    Pattern Solution
    Here's our pattern overlay:

    PatternSolution

    Tech Solution
    Here's our technology overlay:

    TechnicalSolution

    Application Pattern
    You can review the full application pattern on CodePlex at:

    Feedback

    1. What are 3 things you like about the approach?
    2. What are 3 things you would improve?
  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Rich Client Application Pattern

    • 1 Comments

    We created a Rich Client Application Pattern as part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project.  The purpose is to show a baseline architecture based on patterns.

    Scenario
    Here's the backdrop we use for the baseline architecture:

    PatternsSolution (2)

    Pattern Solution
    Here's our pattern overlay:

    Scenario

    Tech Solution
    Here's our technology overlay:

    TechnicalSolution

    Application Pattern
    You can review the full application pattern on CodePlex at:

    Feedback

    1. What are 3 things you like about the approach?
    2. What are 3 things you would improve?
  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Web Application with Table Module Application Pattern

    • 1 Comments

    We created a Web Application with Table Module Application Pattern as part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project.  The purpose is to show a baseline architecture based on patterns.

    Scenario
    Here's the backdrop we use for the baseline architecture:

    Scenario

    Pattern Solution
    Here's our pattern overlay:

    PatternsSolution (2)

    Tech Solution
    Here's our technology overlay:

    TechnologySolution (2)

    Application Pattern
    You can review the full application pattern on CodePlex at:

    Feedback

    1. What are 3 things you like about the approach?
    2. What are 3 things you would improve?
  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Enterprise of the Future

    • 1 Comments

    While researching the future, I came across IBM's Global CEO Study: The Enterprise of the Future.  It's a compilation and distillation of insights from more than 1,130 CEOs, general managers, and senior public sector and business leaders from around the world.  I think of it as a set of "hot spots" for today's CEOs and a set of success patterns for the Enterprise of the future.

    Vision for the Enterprise of the Future
    IBM writes the following:

    "Grounded in the collective insights and wisdom of more than 1,000 CEOs, we offer the Enterprise of the Future as a benchmark and blueprint for CEO s, corporate officers and boards of directors around the world. It is an aspirational goal: some companies already exhibit particular traits, but few, if any, embody them all. Based on our conversations and analyses, we believe that significant financial opportunity awaits those that become Enterprises of the Future."

    Executive Summary
    IBM identified the following key points:

    • Organizations are bombarded by change, and many are struggling to keep up.
    • CEO's view more demanding customers not as a threat, but as an opportunity to differentiate.
    • Nearly all CEO's are adapting their business models — two-thirds are implementing extensive innovations.
    • CEO's are moving aggressively toward global business designs, deeply changing capabilities and partnering more extensively.
    • Financial outperformers are making bolder plays.

    5 Attributes for the Enterprise of the Future
    IBM outlined the following five key attributes:

    1. Hungry for Change
    2. Innovative Beyond Customer Imagination
    3. Globally Integrated
    4. Disruptive by Nature
    5. Genuine, Not Just Generous

    5 Attributes for The Enterprise of the Future Explained
    I quoted IBM's key summary for each of the attributes to characterize what they mean:

    • Hungry for Change.  "The Enterprise of the Future is capable of changing quickly and
      successfully. Instead of merely responding to trends, it shapes and leads them. Market and industry shifts are a chance to move ahead of the competition."
    • Innovative Beyond Customer Imagination.  "The Enterprise of the Future surpasses the expectations of increasingly demanding customers. Deep collaborative relationships allow it to surprise customers with innovations that make both its customers and its own business more successful."
    • Globally Integrated.  "The Enterprise of the Future is integrating to take advantage of today’s global economy. Its business is strategically designed to access the best capabilities, knowledge and assets from wherever they reside in the world and apply them wherever required in the world."
    • Disruptive by Nature.  "The Enterprise of the Future radically challenges its business model, disrupting the basis of competition. It shifts the value proposition, overturns traditional delivery approaches and, as soon as opportunities arise, reinvents itself and its entire industry."
    • Genuine, Not Just Generous.  "The Enterprise of the Future goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and reflects genuine concern for society in all actions and decisions."

    The Growing Gap
    One of the key themes in the report is how there's a growing gap between companies that succeed and companies that fail.  The big factors seem to be the accelerated rate of change and a global market.  IBM writes:

    "So what’s causing this growing gap? Constant change is certainly not new. But companies are struggling with its accelerating pace.  Everything around them seems to be changing faster than they can.  As one U.S. CEO told us, “We are successful, but slow.”  But in 2008, CEO s are no longer focused on a narrow priority list.  People skills are now just as much in focus as market factors, and environmental issues demand twice as much attention as they did in the past. Suddenly everything is important. And change can come from anywhere. CEO s find themselves — as one CEO from Canada put it — in a “white-water world.”  CEO s are most concerned about the impact of three external forces: market factors, people skills and technology. Customer expectation shifts, competitive threats and industry consolidation continue to weigh on their minds. CEO s are also searching for industry, technical and particularly management skills to support geographic expansion and replace aging baby boomers who are exiting the workforce."

    Prosumers
    One of my favorite points in the report is about the rise of the prosumer:

    “In the future, we will be talking more and more about the ‘prosumer’— a consumer/producer who is even more extensively integrated into the value chain. As a consequence, production processes will be customized more precisely and individually.”
    - Hartmut Jenner, CEO, Alfred Kärcher GmbH

    Key Take Aways
    Here's my key take aways:

    • Master change management.
    • Build to change over built to last.
    • Make customers partners in the process.
    • Bake reinvention into the business development model.
    • Find ways to leverage the producer model.
    • Find ways to leverage and enhance a global network of knowledge.
    • Find business models and investments that improve society.

    Additional Resources

    My Related Posts

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    Michael Michalko on Sources of Insight

    • 1 Comments

    I'm honored to have a guest post from author Michael Michalko on Sources of Insight.   The theme behind Source of Insight is "stand on the shoulders of giants" and Michael is one of my heroes.  He's one of the world's top creativity experts and author of bestsellers  THINKERTOYS, Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius.  Enjoy!

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Motivation Techniques

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    I posted 13 Motivation Techniques on Sources of Insight today.  Motivation is key to your results.  You can have the best skills in the world, but if you don't have the motivation, you won't get things done.  It's one thing to get inspired by others, it's another to be able to inspire yourself.  Sometimes even before you get inspired, you need to be able to get past some self-defeating behaviors or self-talk.

    The post is brief, but you'll learn a lot.  You'll learn negative thought patterns as well as specific motivation techniques for finding pleasure, defeating your inner critic, avoiding analysis paralysis, taking positive actions, and building self-confidence.  You'll also learn how to reframe your common thought patterns into more empowering ones.

    Even if you already do a lot of this, you'll now have a precise set of named techniques that you can draw from throughout your life, either for yourself or for a friend.  These are proven practices by one of the world's top experts, Dr. David Burns.  I'm a fan of improving effectiveness and I think these are a very powerful set of simple practices that will serve you well.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    patterns & practices Mobile Pocket Guide Update

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    We posted a new version of our patterns & practices Mobile Application Architecture Pocket Guide.  It's a significant update from our earlier release.  Special thanks to Rob Tiffany and Rabi Satter for helping reshape and improve the guide.  Rob Tiffany is a Microsoft Mobility Architect so he brings a ton of customer experience to the table.  Rabi Satter is a Microsoft Program Manager and formerly a Mobility Consultant. He has a long history of partner consulting and blogging on mobile and embedded platforms.

    Key Changes
    The key changes include:

    • Improved precision and relevancy for mobile.
    • Improved the figure of the canonical mobile application.
    • Elaborated on the "why" and rationale for certain decisions.
    • Elaboration on handling connections

    Chapters At a Glance
    Here’s the chapters at a glance:

    • Ch 01 – Mobile Application Architecture
    • Ch 02 – Architecture and Design Guidelines
    • Ch 03 - Presentation Layer Guidelines
    • Ch 04 - Business Layer Guidelines
    • Ch 05 - Data Access Layer Guidelines
    • Ch 06 - Service Layer Guidelines
    • Ch 07 - Communication Guidelines
    • Ch 08 - Deployment Patterns

    Download

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    Jim Kouzes on Leadership Lessons Learned

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    I'm very honored to have a guest post at Sources of Insight from Jim Kouzes on The Top 10 Leadership Lessons.   Jim is co-author of the award-winning and best selling book, The Leadership Challenge.  The Leadership Challenge was a BusinessWeek best-seller, and has sold over 1.4 million copies in more than twelve other languages.  Jim is a foremost researcher, award-winning writer, and highly respected teacher in the field of leadership.  The Wall Street Journal has cited Jim as one of the twelve best executive educators in the United States.

    Read Jim Kouzes on The Top 10 Leadership Lessons.

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    Microsoft patterns & practices Agile Workspace Tour

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    I posted a visual walkthrough of our Microsoft patterns & practices Agile workspace on Shaping Software.   I basically did a lap around the halls and pointed out key things along the way.  Our patterns & practices team workspace is optimized for agile development practices.  The workspace features writeable walls, configurable workspace, speaker phones, projectors, focus rooms, and a customer room.   The walkthrough is extensive.  It's basically more than 40 pictures.  Enjoy! 

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Precision Questions and Precision Answers

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    I shared my notes from Precision Questions and Precision Answers training on Sources of Insight.   It's one of the most effective training sessions I've taken at Microsoft.  My notes are bit old, so they're a bit rough, but you can get the main ideas.  To summarize it, Precision Questions and Precision Answers, or PQ / PA for short, is a technique for improving your communication efficiency and critical thinking.  It's especially important for exec reviews, but you can use it for any scenario where the complexity is high and you need to explore assumptions and test information.  It works by using a structured approach to explore questions in 7 categories:

    1. Go / NoGo
    2. Clarification
    3. Assumptions
    4. Basic Critical Question
    5. Causes
    6. Effects
    7. Action

    It's not for scenarios where you want to brainstorm or build rapport, but it's incredibly effective for improving your thinking and improving your effectiveness at work.

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    Al Ries on Left Brainers and Right Brainers

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    I'm honored to have a guest post at Sources of Insight from author Al Ries on Left Brainers and Right Brainers. I first read Al's The 21 Immutable Laws of Branding some time ago. What I liked about the book was it gave me a new lens for looking at business, brands, and product design. It even gave me insight into personal brands as well as team, product, and organization brands. His principles are timeless and better yet, time tested. My favorite lesson was that to win, you narrow the focus. It's about specialization and standing for something. It's about really knowing which category you're in and what distinctions matter. For example, in patterns & practices, we create prescriptive guidance. Prescriptive guidance took the category of "documentation" and specialized. We effectively became a scenario-based, engineering team that produces code and content-based guidance.  This differentiation became our strength.

    Read Al Ries on Left Brainers and Right Brainers.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Spotting Logical Flaws

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    I posted about 3 ways to spot logical fallacies and 7 deadly logical sins on Source of Insight.  These posts are a distillation of some of my lessons learned from Jay Heinrichs, author of Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion

    If you know how to spot logical flaws, you can avoid bad information, protect yourself from bad advice, and improve your own logical arguments.  In the rules of rhetoric, your logic doesn't have to be right.  You simply have to be influential.  Of course, if your audience realizes you are wrong, you lose your ethos (character) influence.  In logical debates however, the rules are strict.  If you get your logic wrong, the shows over. 

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