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ARCHITECTS DON'T HAMMER NAILS

BLOGROLL

ARCHITECTS DON'T HAMMER NAILS

MARCH 9/MICHAEL BAYLOR

I admittedly have been out of Western culture for quite some time but when did the title “Architect” become so diluted that it refers to a jack of all trades?

Let me first acknowledge that this subject has been broached by many others, much smarter and more articulate than I, but recent exposure made it necessary to get it off my chest.

In my view, the title “Architect” should be reserved for someone that leverages specialized skills and abilities to:

  1. Elicit requirements with surgical precision;

  2. Balance competing interests of all stakeholders;

  3. Understand and incorporate the business, technical and regulatory compliance requirements;

  4. Manage risk;

  5. Specify the IDE, languages, etc. (the materials) to be used;

  6. Set forth the standards and quality measures (building codes) that will be utilized during construction, and;

  7. Create a vision that is articulated in graphical and textual descriptions that provide Developers (the builders) the guidance to realize the architecture in various prototypes and final builds.

The role of the architect during construction is to provide oversight and to ensure that trade-offs due to cost, schedule, changing requirements, etc. do not compromise the integrity of the overall architecture.

I have yet to have the privilege of meeting a single person that possesses the requisite skills to perform those functions effectively and also be an effective Developer. They are completely different skill-sets and mindsets.

The role of an Architect is intellectual and artistic (calm down, development is also intellectual and artistic). But he or she sees beyond the wild expectations and unreasonable demands of the client and is able to identify solutions that balance the usage scenarios with practical and elegant designs that will also satisfy all of the business, technical and regulatory requirements.

The Architect’s view is non-representational. That is, he or she does not aim to depict an object but rather, compose with a focus on structure and form. Whereas a Developer’s view is absolutely representational in that they depict the architecture in a physically recognizable form, namely, code and other physical artifacts.

My question then is, when was the last time you saw a “traditional” architect at a construction site swinging a hammer (at the client’s head because they changed the requirements for the thousandth time doesn’t count)? My answer would be none and I have had the opportunity to visit many construction projects.

So how then did the term Architect become so overused and misused in the technology profession? I do not think it is right to expect an Architect to be a Developer and vice-versa.

It should be alright (and encouraged) to specialize and become the best at your chosen profession. Consolidating the two roles into one person dilutes the value and quality of both.