Exploring Canvas-Style Tools to Create Layouts that Help Architects Both Understand and Communicate Across Decisions, Views, and Perspectives

Architects love to sketch and draw and stick notes on the wall as they work stuff out.

canvas1 We recognized the success of simple canvas-style tools to create layouts that help architects both understand and communicate across decisions, views, and perspectives.  So, we started to design and collect a variety of one-page cards and canvas.  See https://itabok.iasaglobal.org/itabok3_0/structured-canvases

The canvas library is now rich with both home-grown (Ecosystem Map, Value Stream Canvas, Technical Loan Request) and existing tools and formats such as OKR, BMC, Journey Maps, etc.  We now have over 70 one-page cards and canvas to select from.


But more than sketch tools or slideware, we have codified these in a data-store with meta data that helps with consistency and allows us to understand the connections between canvases.  Not just shared data and information, but the practical knowledge of how one canvas informs another. The power of this is not just the canvas but the way concepts link together within them.  We have started to use the canvas and connection metadata to group the canvas together in subsets that focus on key decision points.  These are where Architects typically engage; understanding the WHY for business value (proposals), considering WHAT needs to change (change or increment planning) and linking through and setting parameters for the HOW of delivery.


These connections are proving very insightful; rather than having to rely on a full enterprise repository approach, we can quickly complete key canvas and consider the impacts and dependencies from one canvas to another.


In one example, consider how an Architecturally Significant Decision (ASD card) informs PI Planning and how the Quality Attributes involved drive the Emergent Architecture.


In another, how will the desired system, expressed in the Context View, highlight and heatmap capability changes which both drive the Service Blueprint and it’s associated adoption and communication plans?


Last, we can review the drivers that structure the architect’s work week, the architects teams charter, which stakeholders across the ecosystem we engage with and last, how best to engage with each of them guided by the culture map. It is important to remember that we need to structure the entire practice of architecture, including the engagement model and what architects do each week as well as the models they use.


Help us discover more connections and links as we build this Structured Canvas Approach.