Lean Architecture – Architectures for Doing More with Less

I have been giving some thought to the practice of architecture and what we need to do in these times where we need to do more with less while enabling positive change.  My thoughts on the subject have come around to what I would call “Lean Architecture” – Architectures for doing more with less.  Community input would be appriciated as we develop the idea further.

What is Lean Architecture?

In these times of needing to do more with less, of having more responsibilities with less budget, we need to work and apply our resources smarter – a lot smarter.  Lean architecture is intended to bring together best practices across business and technology to do more with less. Lean architecture complements other successful approaches such as the Zackman framework, agile methods, total quality management and lean sigma.

Lean architecture applies at multiple levels; from enterprise and business architecture, through systems architecture to technology implementation.  It can include service orientation, business processes, information and business rules – depending on the problems and opportunities to be addressed.

Architected solutions can out-perform a chaotic system, if applied correctly and at the right levels.  However, not everything should be architected, as some things just worked better if they are self-organizing.  Lean architecture is understanding when and when not to architect a solution, and in how much detail.  It is understanding how a plan, process or design can say enough to be effective and efficient without stifling creativity and diversity.

Lean architecture delivers value, if it doesn’t – it shouldn’t be done.  The art of lean architecture is maximizing the value derived from planning and design of our enterprises, or missions and our technologies.

Five Core Principles of Lean Architecture

We have summarized five core principles of lean architecture.  These have been derived from decades of architectural experience – including those that delivered value and those that didn’t.  These are principles for deriving value from architecture to solve problems, reduce costs, foster agility and take advantage of opportunities.

A lean architecture should;

  1. Enable doing more with less using positive chnage
  2. Target a specific set of problems or opportunities important to stakeholders
  3. Express an actionable & verifiable plan or specification without stifling creativity and diversity
  4. Be agile and iterative based on stakeholder participation and measurable results
  5. Be tactically and strategically effective with the backing of an authority to act


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One Response to “Lean Architecture – Architectures for Doing More with Less”

  1. Rick Murphy Says:

    Cory, excellent analysis of a significant challenge faced by architecture teams today !

    I am especially intrigued by some Lean leaning changes taking place in the public sector. The most compelling examples relate to open source and open government. Recently, I learned that citizens trust government more than the private sector with their personal information, but they trust the private sector to deliver something of value.

    I believe Apps for Democracy is an exemplar of the Lean leaning changes taking place in the public sector …


    other folks are at the point where they’re telling the government, just turn over your data, we’ll take it from there …



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