Upcoming Events & Experiences

This morning, I used Cal Newport’s Time-Block Planner, Trello, an 8.5 x 11 pad of graph paper, new-to-me Nuclino and a giant whiteboard to map out upcoming creative work. There’s a lot happening this year!

With conferences recommitting to hands-on, interactive events, we can meet in person. If you aren’t into people-y situations, no worries, there are also remote experiences to enjoy. And some great books coming out this year.

Here is a sneak peek at some upcoming events, workshops and books to read. If you see something you like, I encourage you to sign up quickly. Tickets for most of these events sell out fast.

Try an open space

I confess, I was dubious about the Open Space concept; I prefer more structure. Or so I thought. The January 2nd, 2023 (Architectural) Decision Making Gathering changed my mind. (You can view the opening here. ) That event was so successful, the Virtual DDD organizing team is hosting another in April.

Technical Leadership and Collaborative Software Design. “As systemic complexity increases around us, many technologists are redefining “leadership.” What is technical leadership when good decision-making depends on collective, cross-functional thinking? How is collaborative modeling a form of leadership? What type of leadership does a systems architect provide?”

The event happens on April 21st, 2023. Eb Ikonne, author of “Becoming a Leader in Product Development: An Evidence-Based Guide to the Essentials” will open the event with a keynote to create context for our discussions. He’ll be describing adaptive leadership as something we can practice and a skill we can cultivate.

If you’ve never been to an open space, it works like this: Attendees arrive and describe the discussions, sessions, they’d like to facilitate. The schedule arises organically, by sliding those sessions into time slots. Everyone else joins in, wanders around to multiple sessions, or hangs out in the hallway enjoying informal chats. The philosophy is “Everything that happens is exactly what’s supposed to happen”.

We (the organizers) are deeply committed to cultivating diversity of thought. Our goal is to make the event welcoming and available to everyone. The cost is nominal and scholarships are available.

Here’s the description.

Full-day workshop on nonlinear (systems) thinking

The Codecamp_Festival is followed by my favorite after party. Before it begins, you can take full-day Masterclasses with Kevlin Henny (Architecture with Agility) , Dylan Beattie (Distributed Systems with C# and .NET) or Micheal Feathers (Moving Past Technical Debt) .

I’m offering a Masterclass on Nonlinear Thinking, practices for skillfully and consistently thinking in systems, alone and together. We will model an interesting (and familiar) real-world systems challenge, find leverage points and develop a recommendation in the midst of uncertainty.

The return of Architecture over Architects

Andrew Harmel-Law and I will also be giving a talk at Codecamp_Festival in Bucharest. If you’ve subscribed to the O’Reilly platform, you can get a sneak peek of a shorter version here. (Also, keep an eye out for Andrew’s upcoming O’Reilly book Facilitating Software Architecture.)

Paris in the springtime

Newcrafts has a reputation for being a don’t-miss conference. The event was paused for Covid and now, it’s baaaack. If the number of talk submissions is any indication, this conference will sell out quickly.

There are pre-conference workshops from great teachers like Jessica Kerr, Kent Beck, Dave Farley, Clare Sudbery and Nick Tune.

The schedule has not been published yet. You can join me (in person) for Writing as Thinking (and learning and leading), a mini-version of the recent 8-week course.

“Constructing something whole and actionable from abstract ideas requires creating conceptual integrity. Unfortunately, we are truly terrible at creating or maintaining conceptual integrity … unless we are supported by practices.

Fortunately, writing is the practice of crafting conceptual integrity.

Bring your favorite pen.”

DDD EU Amsterdam

This is my favorite event of the year. You do not need to be practicing Domain-driven Design to enjoy it. They work hard to improve our systems-thinking skillset, especially collective modeling, regardless of the framework you are immersed in. Of course, if you are interested in learning DDD, there is an entire day of Foundations.

Andrew Harmel-Law and I, along with others to be announced soon, will be offering a workshop that has never been tried before! Here’s a sneak peek.

“In this workshop, you’ll enter a fictional organization that wants technology changes. In this First of Its Kind Murder-Mystery Style RPG workshop, you’ll have an egalitarian experience of “doing architecture” regardless of your role, you’ll work with teammates to make architectural recommendations, with constraints drawn from real-world experiences. Each participant will receive a role and background (known only to them). NonPlayer Characters (NPCs) reveal hidden: gotchas at (in)opportune moments as the story/workshop unfolds. From the Security-obsessed Ops Person to the Let’s Use SAFe Cx0, you’ll immerse in a real-world systems architecture scenario.

Three teams will create recommendations that solve three different objectives. They’ll need to seek advice from domain experts and NPCs who know how the system works. They’ll work together (sometimes). Each team will have a budget. Nobody knows how the game will end.”

(This conference always sells out.)

Ruth’s class

When I finished teaching a recent course, everyone was invited to retrospect. One “didn’t go well” note was “it overlapped with Ruth’s class.” An attendee asked, “Who is Ruth?”. Many others said “you haven’t taken her class? You have to take her class!” Ruth’s two-day Technical Leadership workshop will meet next on May 23rd and 30th. The course runs regularly so if you can’t make that one, follow her here or here to hear about upcoming dates.


Global Software Architecture Summit will be held in Barcelona on October 9-11. The organizers are committed to giving attendees experiences, not just information, that improve daily work. The schedule (not yet announced) will be a mix of talks, Q&A panels, informal discussion time and hands-on workshops. I’ll be teaching a Nonlinear Thinking workshop as well as giving a talk. Check out the lineup of speakers announced so far to see others. The blind ticket price is available until March 31.

My happy news

During my travels, I’ll be writing a book for O’Reilly, tentatively titled Learning Systems Thinking: Essential Non-Linear Skills and Practices for Software Professionals. I’ll let you know when pre-published chapters are available. Watch this newsletter for a course that teaches some fundamental skills covered in the book.

New books to read

Nick Tune’s Architecture Modernization jumped straight to the top of Manning’s bestseller list. Five chapters are available.

Collaborative Software Design: How to facilitate domain modeling decisions by Evelyn van Kelle, Gien Verschatse and Kenny Baas-Schwegler

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard

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