Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ivory Tower Architect

In one of my recent project, client was afraid of doing some architectural changes.  The changes proposed were necessary and were for the betterment of the application.  We were proposing the use of some of the industry standard libraries, frameworks and tools.  Use of these new frameworks would make the code more maintainable.

In spite of the benefits of the proposed architectural changes, client was not really keen on doing those changes.


This question kept bothering me for sometime.  Digging a little deeper into the past, found that client had a bad experience with one of the architects.  They had hired an architect, worked with him for a year, but nothing fruitful came out of this engagement.  Sounds familiar?

Time and again I have faced this sort of a situation.  One of my previous post was on similar lines.  Be a Developer not an architect!

Googling a little I found a commonly used term for such architects.  Its called Ivory Tower Architect

What are the symptoms of Ivory Tower Architects:

Notice the usage of the word "symptoms".

According to wikitonary The meaning of "symptom" is 
"Anything that indicates, or is characteristic of, the presence of something else, especially of something undesirable."
Based on the above definition, you must have understood that Ivory Tower Architect is almost like a decease.  If it gets hold of someone, it does not leave them very easily.

Back to the original question.  The symptoms of Ivory Tower Architects:

  • Loves attending meetings all the time.  He thinks, their job is to attend meetings.  If there is nothing to discuss, He will invent new reasons to organize a meeting.  Usually these meetings are very long, in fact He believes in "longer the better"
  • Loves talking down to the developers.  He thinks developers are some inferior species.
  • Loves to show off his mastery of software design.  When I say, "the mastery of software design", it means mastery in drawing pretty pictures.  Whether the design actually works in practice, is not relevant to him (Usually, the design won't work)
  • Loves to churn out documents.  This person is like the printing press, continuously creates/updates documents.  He thinks, his productivity is measured by number of mail, xls and doc files created/updated in a day.  Not to mentioned the number of Minutes of Meetings he (or someone on his behalf) publishes every day.
  • Forces the development team to implement the architecture he has designed
  • Pretends that he is listening to your suggestions, but actually he is thinking about ways to reject your suggestions.  No matter how relevant your suggestion is, he will never accept it.  To do so undermines his very existence
  • He will never ever work directly on the code himself.  He thinks that coding should only be done by mortal developers!
  • Does not believe in the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) principle.
If you know someone who has these symptoms, please do not forget to send them a get well soon card (this is the best you can do)!  In case you can gather enough courage, tell them to stop goofing around and start doing real work!
Have some Fun!