Neal Ford  |
  • Author, Thoughtworker, & Meme Wrangler

Architectural Katas


The rules are broken down by the different Phases of the exercise. However, one rule trumps all the others: Any other questions that are not already covered by these rules, you may ask the Moderator about. When in doubt, ask.

Preparation: Getting your project team together

The first step is to assemble your project team. There are only a few rules regarding the composition of your team:

Once that’s done, select your kata and proceed on to the Discussion Phase.

Discussion Phase: Figuring out what you’re building and building it

For the next “N” minutes or hours (depending on what the Moderator tells you), your project team will now examine the requirements for the kata as given, and work out a rough vision of what the project’s architecture will look like.

The Moderator will give you some kind of audio and visual cue when your time is getting low, and then at some point, time will run out and it will be time to move on to the Peer Review Phase.

Peer Review Phase: Presenting your architecture to the rest of the group

During this phase, your project team will be doing one of two things, either presenting to the rest of the group, or listening to other groups’ presentations.

If you are presenting, you must…

If you are listening to the other groups, then your job is to ask questions of the project team currently presenting. Please try to keep the questions constructive, but feel free to openly question any choice or decision that you think might not have been carefully examined or thought out. If the conversation devolves into a shouted “Yes it does!”/”No it doesn’t!” kind of back-and-forth, the Moderator may send you both to your room without dessert. Remember that project teams may assume anything about a technology they don’t know well, so long as that assumption is clearly spelled out; if they assumed something that you know to be false, by all means inform them of that, but bear in mind that someone else in the room may have different experience with it than you, and keep an open mind.

Voting Phase: Final feedback on the proposal

After each project team has finished their presentation, then we move to the voting phase. The Moderator will call out a “1-2-3”, and you will each individually give the project team an overall feedback vote:

But all is not finished! Once the voting is complete, the ancient Klingon proverb must be heeded: “Revenge is a dish best served cold”. The project team departing the stage chooses the next project team, and we repeat again by going back to the Peer Review Phase for a new project team.

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Neal Ford  |
  • Author, Thoughtworker, & Meme Wrangler