Notes on Design in Practice

Rich Hickey's talks have been influential in my thinking about building software, in particular his thoughts on the importance of "hammock time" and craftsmanship.

Rich's latest talk is titled Design in Practice and clarifies a structure of building and recording a design that I feel is "just enough" to helpful without being burdensome. Further it elaborates Architecture Decision Records (ADR), which is the design structure I'm most familiar with. I still refer back to Mike Nygard's post on ADRs from 2011 regularly.

Notes on Design in Practice


full transcript:

This talk is about formalizing the process of design. Given Rich's background, he's primarily talking about software design but you may apply these concepts to other domains.

Some of the benefits and goals include

He begins by talking about precision in words. Using precise words helps keep wording concise and makes understanding easier. An artifact of using precise words is a glossary.

Rich reminds us the questions and the Socratic method are powerful tools for building understanding. Exposing answers to find the truth helps everyone learn. Detach yourself from your ideas. There is an objective truth and the goal is discover it together.

A framework for questions:

These questions frame your current status and your direction, from both progress and understanding. Rich suggests these questions can help with reflective inquiry; being aware of your own thinking.

He suggests that we should try to structure the record of our design in stories. A story should have these sections:

Not a checklist. Goal is record decisions made and why.

The suggested phases that a design process follows are:

  1. Describe (situation)
  2. Diagnose (possible problems)
  3. Delimit (the problem you are going to solve)
  4. Direction (strategy, approach)
  5. Design (tactics, implementation plan)
  6. Dev (build it)

Rich continues to explain the 6 phases.






Published: 2023-08-17

Tagged: talk clojure design richhickey