Great Lakes Software Symposium

November 8 - 10, 2013

Critical Thinking in Software Engineering, Part I: Lecture

Friday - Nov 8 1:15 PM - Lakeshore

Matt Stine

Matt Stine

Global CTO - Software Architecture at Pivotal

No matter where you slice software engineering:

  • architecture
  • technology selection
  • process
  • etc.

The root cause of many, if not most problems, is the common absence of critical thinking in how we approach decision making. Instead of thinking critically about our engineering decisions, we often follow a Cargo Cult mentality or blindly follow the pronouncements of the Blowhard Jamboree. The end results all too often include suboptimal productivity, excessive spending, poor quality and cancelled projects.

When we think instead critically about a component of software engineering, we take it apart. We discard our presuppositions. We challenge tradition. We gather our own evidence. We question everything.

This talk will examine the pathologies associated with not thinking critically, including a tour of the antipatterns that can emerge from such a practice. We'll then walk through the concentric circles of the critical thinking process, including evidence evaluation, argument evaluation, and argument construction. You'll leave this session with a critical thinking framework which can be applied to software engineering as well as beyond.

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About Matt Stine

Matt Stine is an 18 year veteran of the enterprise IT industry, with nine of those years spent as a consulting solutions architect for multiple Fortune 500 companies, as well as the not-for-profit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He is the author of Migrating to Cloud-Native Application Architectures from O'Reilly, and the host of the Software Architecture Radio podcast.

Matt is obsessed with the idea that enterprise IT “doesn’t have to suck,” and spends much of his time thinking about lean/agile software development methodologies, DevOps, architectural principles/patterns/practices, and programming paradigms, in an attempt to find the perfect storm of techniques that will allow corporate IT departments to not only function like startup companies but also create software that delights users while maintaining a high degree of conceptual integrity. He is currently the Global CTO of Architecture at Pivotal, and spends much of his time advising IT leadership on the effective adoption of cloud-native architectures.

Matt has spoken at conferences ranging from JavaOne to OSCON to YOW! and is a nine-year member of the No Fluff Just Stuff tour. Matt is also the founder and past president of the Memphis Java User Group.