Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Johnny Carson as Carnac the Magnificent Architect

Johnny Carson once claimed that his favorite joke went like this:

Imagine the African Savanna in late August. In what was a large lake, but is now a relatively small mud-pool sits two hippos. They are submerged to their eyeballs, which appear just above the surface. The air is thick with humidity, and there is no sign of movement in the air, the grasses, or the animals. The first hippo looks at the other and says, “I just can’t get it through my head that it’s Tuesday.”

Johnny has a strange sense of humor.

Thankfully he also gave us Carnac the Magnificent, the mystic who divines answers to questions in sealed envelopes. For instance, Carnac divines the answer, “Eleven.” to the sealed question, “What is the combined total of Bo Derek and Phyllis Diller?” Here are some more...

Answer: “Timbuktoo”
Question: “What comes after Timbukone?”

Answer: “Sis, Boom, Baa.”
Question: “What is the sound of an exploding sheep?”

I don’t care who you are, that’s good stuff.

Humor is a lot like architecture reviews; one person’s perfect is another’s total miss.

Sometimes, after an Architecture Review Board meeting, someone will say, “Well, that should never have come to the ARB.” I suppose it is one of those in-the-eye-of-the-beholder kinds of thingies. Turns out there are two extremes of projects that will invoke that response.

First, is almost any project that, after an hour of business, architecture, and technology review, the Boards finds everything to be satisfactory. It’s almost as if the reviewing architects are thinking, “If I don’t find something wrong, this has been a waste of everybody’s time.”

Seriously? I would agree that a solution that employs only pre-approved components, reference architectures, and shared systems is overkill for an ARB. There are very few of these. Ever.

The second kind of review that generates “Why bother” commentary is one where the Board finds multiple, multiple issues that generate multiple action items. When this occurs it is often because some assumption that turns out to be invalid.

So... if the Board finds multiple issues - the ARB was a waste, but if the Board finds nothing, well then the meeting was unnecessary. Ow, ow, my ears are bleeding.

For some, the only review which satisfies the mission of the Board is one with 4.2 issues, 2 concerns, and one observation. If only Carnac could identify those before we waste everybody’s time.

There’s no predicting which proposed architectures are going to be perfect, and those which will require improvements - that’s why the Board actually takes the time to review them. Last month we held two ARB meetings, with a total attendance of 130 individuals hearing about standards, expectations, remediations, and rationale.

I don’t care who you are, that’s good stuff.

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