William Martinez has pointed me to a paper which talks about Emergent Design from an Architects perspective. Apparently Architects are now deferring architectural decisions to the last responsible moment in an attempt to be more Agile.
On the same site they present a skills matrix defining the role of an architect. looking at the matrix it looks as though the new Agile Architect is a cross between a Systems Design Engineer a Senior Development Lead and an Agile Coach.
To me the term Agile Architect is a misnomer. Architecture as I understand it is about technology selection high level design. In an Agile team, the team are responsible for making such decisions. If the Architect is part and parcel of the team or is an outside consultant that the team can consult then I guess that this approach is still consistent with say Scrum. But ultimately the team must decide. Since the team is ultimately responsible for delivery. Anything else would brake the central tenant of Scrum which is that the team should be self organised and make their own decisions.
It puts me in mind of Scott Amblers website on Agile Modeling. Again a central tenant of Agile Development is feedback. Yet you don't get much feedback from a non-executable UML Model until pretty late in the development process. So again Agile Modeling is a bit of a misnomer.
So why are we seeing such things? Well in my opinion this is the consequence of organisations that have structured themselves around a waterfall "production line" view of software development who never the less like the sound of Agility, yet do not want to confront the need for organisational change. To me these are just symptoms of Agile as a fad. Wannabes jumping on to the bandwagon. Me too Agile.
True Agile seems to be taking root in environments with less cultural baggage such as new startups. But for those who are merely interested in trying out the latest fad without making a real commitment to cultural change, they can change their practices a tad and re-brand themselves as Agile. "Me too" Agile. Which is what I believe we are seeing here.