original post

Get used to the idea that as an architect you will no longer be able to measure your productivity in terms of lines of code or any similar “objective” measure. When I first started getting more involved in architect-level activities, I saw that my productivity as a coder was declining and I was quite distraught. It took me a long time to reconcile myself to the idea that code was no longer my main contribution, and that I had to find more flexible ways to determine whether I was functioning optimally. This is also a time-management problem, as you become less able to use checkin trails etc. to keep yourself on schedule.

Accept that you cannot escape your responsibility to be a leader, mentor, etc. Think of yourself as a high-level NCO on the battlefield. You’re not an officer making command decisions and you’re not some paper-pusher who never picked up a gun; those are the executives and managers respectively. Instead, you’re in the foxholes with the grunts, fighting the same war they are. Your leadership consists of communicating basic skills and priorities, managing morale and discipline, acting as an advocate, and generally setting a good example. If you’re not comfortable doing all of these things, find a different role, perhaps one that concentrates more on specialized technical skills, because nobody is more universally loathed – by superiors, peers, and more junior team members – than a tech lead or architect who doesn’t help to “stiffen the backbone” of the organization.

In a similar vein, your new position makes you a target for the climbers and backstabbers in your company. Everything you say will travel further and carry more weight than it did before, with potentially disastrous consequences if you’re not careful. A grunt can say almost anything because, basically, nobody will really notice or care. When you’re an architect that’s not the case. I know it seems political, but it pays to develop “situational awareness” of who you’re talking to, what their agendas are, who they’re likely to repeat your words to, etc. It’s distasteful, but if you want your people or your projects or your principles to prevail then you have to avoid traps and ambushes.