I am just back from the Global Software Architecture Summit were I spoke recently about Bytesize Architecure Sessions. I got some interesting questions in the Q&A. We didn’t get through all of them, so I figured I can answer them in a post.
As I answered all of the questions, I realised that there were many ways to answer them, and that in many cases that was very useful too. So, I am going to answer a question or more (if they make sense together) per post, to keep it interesting.
Below is the list of questions. If you have more questions please send them to me via mastodon or LinkedIn and I can add them here and turn them into a post.
Questions about number of participants (answered below all these questions)
- How many people should participate on a Bytesize Architecture Session ideally?
- What should be the maximum size of people attending a Bytesize Architecture Session?
- How many sessions/weeks does it usually take to complete?
- How to narrow the goal of the session to a specific case? How to reach a goal when the issue is is too big?
- Let’s imagine that part of a team has implemented a few new services How do we share the knowledge with the rest of the team using Bytesize Architecture Sessions?
Questions about where does Bytesize Architecture Sessions doesn’t work as intended
- Have you experienced this approach fail or not work as intended for the specific task at hand?
Questions about team’s attitude to collaboration
- How to avoid people talking on top of each other?
- Are there any recommendations for when a team is very apathetic and low energy? How to infuse this energy and willingness to change?
- One of the hardest things to do is to interrupt a developer passionatelly explaining their piece. Normally everyone gets too excited during discussions. Any tips on this?
- When people in the session have different levels of expertise, how can we make this session work? Less experienced people might fear participation or might get stuck with their design.
Questions about the “Consensus” part of the Sessions
- The idea that consensus is not only about agreement, but also about disagreement is very interesting. Was this a learning from the first sessions or does it come from somewhere else?
Questions about the specifics of Bytesize Architecture Sessions as a tool
- What makes Bytesize Architecture Sessions different?
- How is this collaboration tool different from Event Storming?
Questions about companies using Bytesize Architecture Sessions
- Are there any companies using Bytesize Architecture Sessions?
Questions about Bytesize Architecture Sessions and do people forget between sessions
- Do people forget what was done in the previous session?
Questions about Bytesize Architecture Sessions and decision making
- Isn’t this technique favouring an organic architecture growth by making collaborative decisions around out of expertise areas?
- In terms of technical details of the architecture that require in-depth technical discussions How can developers and architects benefit from Bytesize Architecture Sessions to improve alignment of their ideas, have you experienced this?
- Responsibility for architectural decisions should be fully taken by the architect. This format could imply shared responsibility with the team. How do you avoid that
Questions about Bytesize Architecture Sessions and alternative formats
- Why not ask people to come to the meeting with a proposal instead of letting everyone start thinking about the problem when they get into the meeting?
Questions about Bytesize Architecture Sessions and other tools
- But we still need to write ADRs, don’t we?
Questions about facilitating Bytesize Architecture Sessions
- Who facilitates the Bytesize Architecture Sessions? How do you guide people to reach Consensus
Questions about the cost of Bytesize Architecture Sessions
- Do you use this format in practice? it looks like it would costs too much time (& money) to include the whole team
The first two questions could be bundled into one
How many people should participate on a Bytesize Architecture Session ideally?
What should be the maximum size of people attending a Bytesize Architecture Session?
For a new group of people trying out Bytesize Architecture Sessions, the maximum number of participants is somewhere between 6 and 10 people, depending on the group dynamics and experience modelling together.
If you have less people, things work just fine, I ran sessions with 3 people and it works in that it allows people to collaborate with some framework.
Why nine or less?
A session lasts between 45 and 60 minutes:
- When there are more people is unlikely that the participants have enough time and attention span to do Alone Together well, nevermind the rest of the session.
- Hard to “known when to speak”, so many will remain silent.
- It’s hard to not talk accidentally on top of one another
I’ve experienced teams resorting to “just have some people listening in”. Don’t! It really changes how the sessions feel, they become performative.
What if you have more people?
And the answer is: it depends on the problem you are trying to solve.
If you have a complicated team collaboration, you might want to choose a pair of people from each team to try to navigate to the solution over a series of Bytesize Sessions.
If your team is bigger than that, it might be a good time to think about where are the silos and why are they there. When it comes to teams configuration, a good resource to check out is Team Topologies
If you have a bigger problem maybe you need to try other modelling techniques first and then, try some Bytesize Sessions.
Remember, team configuration is software architecture too!
PS: Thanks Jacqui Read for the suggestion to group the posts by topic.