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The Software Architect Elevator: Transforming Enterprises with Technology and Business Architecture

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As the digital economy changes the rules of the game for enterprises, it's also changing the role of architects. In addition to making technical decisions, architects can help change the organization's structure and processes to support this transition. To do that, architects need to take the express elevator from the engine room to the penthouse, where business strategy resides.

Brimming with anecdotes from actual IT transformations, this book prepares software architects, senior developers, and other IT professionals for a more complex but rewarding role in the enterprise.

This book is ideal for:

Architects and senior developers looking to shape the company's technology direction or assist in an organizational transformation
Enterprise architects and senior technologists looking for practical advice on how to navigate technical and organizational topics
CTOs and senior technical architects who want to learn what's worked and what hasn't in large-scale architecture and transformation
IT managers seeking to understand how architecture can support their technical transformation agenda

364 pages, Paperback

First published April 8, 2020

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About the author

Gregor Hohpe

7 books128 followers

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5 stars
179 (55%)
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109 (34%)
3 stars
27 (8%)
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4 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for Bjoern Rochel.
359 reviews66 followers
August 5, 2021
I don't know whether this book resonates so well with me because of the time when I read it, but I gosh, this book is a great one for aspiring and also practicing architects. I can certainly say that I wished I had this book when I was first in the architect role, but also at later stages it would have provided me with an extra boost of confidence for the way I do things.

Because Gregor argues for a different spin on the Architect role: The enabler of digital transformation that connects the various levels of engineers, product, management, etc. In German we would say "Hans Dampf in allen Gassen". More broad-generalist than specialist. Change agent at heart. Understands much more than just the technical aspects and is able to bridge between the different parties.

In short: From his perspective the Architect has a meaningful role to play as connective tissue in an organisation to operationalise the strategy of a company.

A lot of the topics that Gregor references, are usually not on the top spot for want-to-be-architects to read. And from own experience I can tell that often peers were baffled when I, an architect, was curious about product management, organisational theory, strategy frameworks etc. But for me it makes so much sense to be aware of these and put them into consideration when devising the way forward. Contrast this with the Architects I've encountered in my career who were often very good engineers with a lot of deep technical expertise. But most of them didn't want to get involved in these peripheral topics. I think that's a pity, since the solution space becomes so much more interesting if you interconnect and integrate the various aspects of digital product development. The best solutions are the ones that require only very little code to be written (by rearranging how we actually do things).

Coming from that angle this book contains a lot of peripheral pointers to various topics that Gregor considers important for his vision of the Architect role in an easy to read fashion. If you're searching for a technical book on how to do architecture for a certain problem, this isn't the book you should look into.

I will read this one again and can only recommend it to everyone in an Architect or related role.
Profile Image for Kief Morris.
Author 2 books25 followers
June 23, 2020
A practical and useful guide for anyone who bridges technology and the rest of a business. Gregor has a wealth of experience as a Chief Architect, CTO, and consultant at global financial institutions, digital startups, and global cloud providers. He gets what is important about technology for a business, and how to communicate that.

The section on how to communicate is outstanding, concrete advice on how to write memos, presentations, and create diagrams from someone who has both on both sides of the executive / techie divide. Gregor has seen it all, and knows that one size doesn't fit all.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone in a technical leadership role who needs to communicate with other parts of their organization. People on the less technical side who work closely with technical folks would probably also get a lot out of this book.
Profile Image for Ahmad hosseini.
265 reviews64 followers
July 1, 2021
A new perspective to architect's role in IT companies.
There are a lot of definitions for architect’s role and it is hard to explain the tasks and responsibilities of architect. Author provides a new perspective for this role.
He explains different aspects of architect’s role in IT companies and examines them based on this new point of view. Author also provides excellent recommendations for architects that can help them do their tasks better and lead their companies toward new goals.
Some sentences from the book:
“Rarely is an architecture simply “good” or “bad.” Rather, architecture is fit or unfit for purpose.”
“Understanding complex interrelationships between system components and influencing them to achieve a desired behavior is what architects do.”
“IT architecture is a profession of trade-offs: flexibility brings complexity; decoupling increases latency; distributing components introduces communication overhead. The architect’s role is often to determine the “best” spot on such a continuum, based on experience and an understanding of the system context and requirements. A system’s architecture is essentially defined by the combination of trade-offs made across multiple continua.”
Profile Image for Stephen Kawaguchi.
6 reviews4 followers
December 10, 2020
Mr. Hohpe has done a wonderful job tying together a broad range of information critical to success in software architecture. As a software architect myself, I found The Software Architect Elevator a refreshing and clear-eyed take on a profession that's going through a major transition. I'm grateful for a voice that both supports some of the conclusions I had already drawn, and also provides a helpful guide to help me better understand where I should be going next.

His viewpoints on organization are part of a growing movement calling for specific organizational transformations necessary for companies to survive in a digital economy. I highly recommend this book for any software architect that wants a modern, insightful perspective of our profession. If you are not an architect, don't let the technical references fool you - there is a keen understanding of the strategic, human, and business impacts of his suggestions. Given the growing realization that technology has become the driver behind business as well, it would be advantageous for anyone to read, regardless of which floor you sit on in Mr. Hohpe's architect elevator.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
37 reviews7 followers
June 14, 2020
The best book I've read about the role of an architect.

Leading tech companies such as Google are built on great software architecture without any designated architects in their ranks. But for most companies, IT is not seen as the principal innovation driver, and having an architect spending its days in the elevator trying to communicate ideas to make code fills their business job is more than welcome. But we need to clarify the architect role. This is the subject of this book.

It's not a technical book. There are no diagrams or snippets of code. There exists many good books about architecture, but before this one, I’ve never read a single good-enough book about the role of a software architect. To be honest, I also thought most companies would be in better shape without architects at all. This book changed my opinion on some points.

Software Architect Elevator is among my favorite readings. Really. I love every page of this book. It is filled with interesting stories, inspiring quotes, powerful analogies, interesting links to blog posts, and varied book references. This book is very different from the author's previous book on patterns. Both are great, but for different reasons.

The book is remarkably written. Each chapter is short, beautifully illustrated, and so much fun to read. The content is opinionated but thoroughly researched. It’s the kind of books few persons could have written. You will discover a new face of a well-known role. You will learn about so many topics--how to make decisions, how to manage organizational systems, how to draw effective diagrams, how to communicate ideas, how to lead change, and so much more.

The book will benefit the most to the software architect working in a large organization. But I think developers, managers, and executives will learn a lot from this book. Yes, that would make a lot of people in the elevator. But the book contains many words of wisdom that are widely applicable, not just concerning architecture. It's a unique book.
Profile Image for Gabriel Santos.
50 reviews9 followers
March 14, 2021
This is a mandatory reading for any serious architect. Gregor Hohpe sheds lights on a plethora of daily problems, mostly cultural ones, that an architect can help to solve, therefore, expediting Digital Transformation
Profile Image for Michał Olejnik.
63 reviews
March 28, 2021
Great book! It emphasises how in today's world it's vital to bridge the gap between business and technology and how important the proper leadership is to achieve this. I really how the author sees the role of a software architect and responsibilities that come with it. He clearly states that to be successful as software architect, one must be able to communicate and convey his/hers ideas to people of different backgrounds (business and IT alike) and inspire them. I think this part of a job is often overlooked and people tend to focus on hard skills and knowledge of technology (which are obviously equally as important). I also appreciate the straightforward message that there are no silver bullets and every transformation requires both time and effort.
Profile Image for Jose Gayo.
Author 7 books1 follower
January 21, 2021
I enjoyed the book a lot while reading it. It is clear that the author has a lot of knowledge about the subject and he describes the life of a software architect from a new and fresh perspective.

Some of the chapters contain real gems of knowledge about the life of software architects.
Profile Image for Łukasz Słonina.
122 reviews16 followers
January 22, 2021
The book covers a wide range of topics. They all revolve around architecture, the role of an architect, and the structure of an organization. You won't find any practical solutions here, but still a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Sérgio Azevedo.
51 reviews2 followers
September 2, 2022
Great first chapters and some good ideas throughout the book, but some chapters feel like fillers without much to add or too vague to extract information.
I'd personally ditch the part on presentations.
1 review
October 1, 2021
Great summary of stories and experiences. It puts a lot of well known situations into extremely handy metaphors that make them easy to convey.
Highly recommend.
Profile Image for David Mendoza.
3 reviews
March 7, 2022
It’s a must for those who are starting being an IT architect and for who already are, it’s a reminder of what’s the real purpose and the importance of the role in any company that is in a digital transformation
Profile Image for Rafael Mtz.
34 reviews
April 22, 2022
Must read for any developer that wants to b ride the elevator and drive transformation.
October 12, 2020
In a digital transformation time, the Software Architect Elevator is a must!

I loved every single part of this book, not only Gregor has so many insights and guidance for us architects that are part of big enterprises making the change to Digital Companies, but he is able to make it entertaining! Strongly recommended, a book that will be key in this turning point in the world of big companies.
Profile Image for Radek Maziarka.
15 reviews7 followers
December 3, 2020
If you were expecting a book on technical details, probably you would be disappointed. Fortunately, I was looking for a book to get an insight into being a Software Architect in a larger organization. And I got a lot of food for thought: organizational management, cognitive biases, queue theory, Wardley Maps, system thinking, and a lot more combine in a very cohesive way. Especially last by one chapter is very interesting, about additional dimension to perceive our work.

The disadvantage is that some chapters feel out of the context to me (e.g. diagrams) but they are not so numerous, after all.

The style of writing can be off-putting at the beginning (a lot of short chapters) but then you get the whole idea and it just 'clicks'.

4.5 from me.
Profile Image for Antony.
136 reviews
May 29, 2022
This is a great read and source of pithy quotes. So my review is just going to be a list of my personal faves. These are all really nice ones to drop into a team meeting.

1) "If You Never Kill Anything, You Will Live Among Zombies, And They Will Eat Your Brain"

2) "Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job"

3) "Control Is an Illusion"

4) "If the answer to “how long does it take to get a server?” is “it depends on who’s asking,” then you have a black market."
1 review1 follower
January 9, 2022
Not as useful if you're not at an enterprise - as the subtitle says, it's mostly about "redefining the architect's role in the digital ENTERPRISE" - if at your company you don't need to wait 8 weeks to provision a server, lots of the advice doesn't apply IMO. And you can safely skip the second half of the book (parts IV-VI). Nevertheless, it's quite a good read and you can learn some stuff from it anyway. :)
Profile Image for Stephen.
259 reviews6 followers
July 5, 2021
In the modern digital world, the software architect must do more than just design systems. It is his or her job to combine the business and technology sections of the business to accelerate the rate of change. Only by rapid (and controlled) change can a company deliver value to both its customers and its shareholders. This is the thesis Gregor Hohpe's The Software Architect Elevator is built on.

You won't find descriptions of architecture styles or methods to analyze them in this book. The Software Architect Elevator focuses on the soft skills an architect needs to be effective. Hohpe starts by defining his concept of the elevator. In his or her position, the architect has the unique opportunity to communicate with both the top-level executives (CEO, COO, etc) and the technical workers who actually get stuff done. They can convey technical topics to upper management without losing the essence of the message and can translate the business strategy into technical decisions that support it.

The book is divided into several sections. The first describes the various ways an architect can act and the ways Hohpe thinks they should act. The second is how the enterprise should act in terms of systems thinking, automation, and change control. The third is in communicating architectures. The last few sections deal with analyzing the organization the architect works in and how to promote change. Each section has some great takeaways.

The book is conversationally written and is chock full of helpful tips and stories. It's a good read for anyone who is (or wants to be) a leader of change in their company. I'm a firm believer that architects need to be in the codebase to be effective, but this book doesn't require any technical skills to read and get something out of.
1 review
May 30, 2022
This book does a good work at re-defining the software architect role in a modern industry. However, same as the "software architect" title itself, the book is very broad (while still being a fairly short read). The book contains many great anecdotes and recommendations, however, it can also be too broad at times as it fails to focus on a specific "architect". Rather, it's a book that broadly touches on many architect hats- sometimes it discusses enterprise architects, a hands-on architect/developer, a technical lead or a person leading the digital transformation in an organisation. As the result, its lack of narrowness on a specific role is as much as the book's strength as it is its weakness. It also fails to provide clarity on this specific topic. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend this to book to a person looking for a resource covering a specific software architecture-related role. The reader will often find themselves focusing on a "hands-on" architect, just to read about an enterprise-level leader few paragraphs later. With these caveats in mind, it is still a great read, though.
Profile Image for Piotr Kafel.
50 reviews2 followers
September 7, 2021
The premise of this book is that architects should be covering as many "floors" in a company and be able to ride from penthouse (C-level) to engine room (engineers). This is a prerequisite to start digital transformation for example in big enterprise companies.

The book is a set of articles that are linked back and forth between them. All of them focus on a bit of a different angle of being an architect - from communication patterns to black markets in a company and starting the transformation.

So what do I think about the book? It's a good book. If you work as an architect this is the one you should probably read as it helps highlight some of the areas we do not alway pay attention to. I must point one thing though: as much as I appreciate the concise writing style it has put me to sleep a few times.
Profile Image for Kir.
4 reviews
September 9, 2021
If I had to choose one book on the topic, it would be this one.

"Riding the elevator" analogy emphasized through the chapters is simply brilliant - it gives so much understanding even without reading anything at all but walking with this in mind.

Even though first two parts, "Architects" and "Architecture", were my main points to focus on, there is no single page that I wasn't inspired by. "Communication" and "Organizations" parts were in fact much needed and just in time to read for my current project situation. The "Transformation" one is well applicable to any more or less dramatic transformation (supported or even led by architects) happening in large companies, not limited to enterprise mastodons struggling to become "digital natives".

Definitely a career-defining reading for me.
1 review
April 10, 2022
There is various feedback in some of the notes that may add one or two points of value. Overall this book is outstanding. I felt a kinship with much of the content and the rest is inspiring. This read has already contributed to my growth as an architect which I consider an endless journey. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I will consider this one of my favorites that I will refer back to often for guidance. Particularly since I had to shelve it for some time to focus on another mandatory read due to a work assignment. If I had the authority I would make this a mandatory read for all architects in my organization. Well, at least incentivize it.
I can appreciate the time and effort that went into this. My deepest gratitude to the author for writing THE IT Architect compendium.
Profile Image for Aboullaite Mohammed.
9 reviews3 followers
March 11, 2021
I enjoyed reading this book more than I thought! It does cover how the IT architect can be a drove change in traditional IT organisation and move things forward. The book also describes nicely the architect duties, how to overcome challenges and obstacles in IT orgs, the do and don't, and how to avoid living in the bubble by following the hype.

My favorite quote from the book is: "Technology evolution has become inseparable from organizational evolution. Correspondingly, the job of the architect has broadened from designing new IT systems to also designing a matching organization and culture."
2 reviews
January 25, 2021
Vast amount of valuable experience

IT industry is full of books about patters, technics, technologies and processes. There are also separate books on communication, leadership, coaching and so on. While these are all very valuable and help you build your skills, you need an experience to make it stick together and be useful. Gregor Hope shared a lot of his personal experience in a well structured and easy to consume manner. It's just great.
Profile Image for Christoph Kappel.
290 reviews4 followers
March 22, 2021
I learned about this book from a seminar and I totally enjoyed reading this. The elevator idea is really intriguing - although I think the author kind of lost this idea as a red line in the middle of book?

Still, many chapters combine my learnings from other books and I had to add so many bookmarks to it..

The broader scope is soft-skills of architects and not technical stuff, which for is the most difficult part of the job: People
Profile Image for Michael.
55 reviews
December 23, 2020
Resonated well with me. Lots of good quality theorizing on all maters of software architecture. Politics and technical topics are covered equally well. Not as practical as I expected, but well worth a read for anyone developing software for a living.

I took lots of notes and have a plethora of books marked to read.
1 review1 follower
January 31, 2021
This book is a must-read for all who have an ambition of leading or setting direction in a digital transformation. Yes, it contains the word architect in the title, but becoming digital means that YOU also need to drive architecture, either of systems or organization. Ignore the messages and points in this book at your own peril.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews

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