A lesson (or two) in Complexity

I’m a master of complexity and this week’s been no exception! Here’s a brief account of my week …

Monday & Tuesday

To start off I held the first proper meeting of my new focus group, the Microsoft Partner Architect Advisory Council (MPAAC), which is comprised of 18 senior architects from our GSI partners. In truth, this was our second actual gathering after the group’s launch and audience with Steve Ballmer back in October, but it was the first chance to get the group together to talk through real issues! We met for two days of discussion at the Weston Manor near Oxford, on the topic of “Microsoft in Tier 1” and to be honest I’m still revelling from the incredible amount of openness and creativity that this meeting generated given that we’d only just got started as a group! I think all of us saw the power and influence that this group could have if it is allowed to develop. However, there is still much to be done and much to prove we can achieve but first the output needs consolidating and reports need writing!

As part of this meeting it was my great delight to be able to invite the great Roger Sessions, CEO of Objectwatch and long-time architectural thought leader to join us at MPAAC. He travelled over from the US and spent the entire two days with the group to share his thoughts on project failures and the rise of complexity. He took part in the workshops and was a great motivation to all that took part!


Not having totally abused Roger’s good faith I managed to convince him to take part in a series of 1:1 meetings with a selection of customers and partners through out the day. Starting at 9am we ran through to 6pm talking to people about IT complexity and how you need to take a quantifiable and repeatable approach to simplification. Complex problems do not have to lead to complex solutions!

The key thing for me with the process and methodology that Roger talks to is that is is inclusive and empowering. It ‘removes’ the ego and democratises the decision making process leading to a shared ownership of and responsibility for the resulting architectural design.

So, with many more hours left in the day it was off to Soho for a Twitter dinner with other UK architect thought leaders @CyberSal, @richardveryard, @seebird20 and @taotwit  – great curry, great conversation, great network boost – I love Twitter!

For more detail on Complexity I thoroughly recommend Roger’s white paper on The IT Complexity Crisis: Danger and Opportunity.


Ok, time for a step change. As a Microsoft Environmental Ambassador (yes – great role hey;)!), I been following the progress of the Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan and am a member on several Intellect groups such as the data centre and software as a service groups (although the paper the latter group is diabolical and I refused to put my name to it;)). Today it was the turn of the Smart Grids and Smart Metering Group’s Conference in which it was hoped that we’d hear the Government’s response to the recent consultation process but unfortunately this did not happen! That said, it’s not a response that is easy to write I suppose! 47 million smart meters to be rolled out to every home by 2020, a rate of maybe 35,000 a week in a market that is highly competitive, deregulated and incredibly complex market of generators, suppliers, distributors and add to this meter operators. Add to this the issues of duel fuel v separate electricity, gas and Water supplies, consumer choice, security of data, privacy of consumer (do you want your supplier to know when you put on the kettle or take a bath?), a lack of agreed standard protocols then you have a recipe for complexity the like of which was only last seen with the NHS Porgramme for IT originally estimated at £2.3 billion over 3 years by 2007 it costs were estimated at being in excess of £20 billion. the problem this down is that we’re not just playing with human health we’re playing with planetary health!


Here’s an interesting picture of a possible future which I found kind of fun … With Wind generation it is not beyond reality that energy could be free at certain points of a day and people incentivised to use energy:)! Well we can dream hey!

view of price impact of wind generation by 2030. could you ge... on Twitpic

Top graph shows Energy production based on wind generation using UK wind speeds in 2008 (I think) against projected number of wind generators in 2030.

Bottom Graph shows market cost of this energy – when it blows the cost comes down:)!


So it’s back home on Friday and it’s catch up time; writing this blog; doing some internal training that’s due now; avoiding looking at expenses and editing down an interview I did with Roger back in October in NY which I have promised a million times to publish – fingers!

Ok that was this week … what am I up to next week … ah that’s right …

A session on the Implications of Cloud at the Business Cloud Summit on Wednesday and a session or two at the Architect Forum in the North with Black Marble on Thursday – a quiet week then … so maybe I can focus on some of the projects I’m meant to be delivering before Christmas:)!