01 Architecture Essays

Architecture Abhors Heroes

Architecture puts things together to give us useful functions of the highest possible quality, at the lowest possible long-term cost. In its best form, it wants to do this proactively and in a controlled manner. So architecture abhors heroes becoming necessary and considers it a personal failure if it happens.

A good architect will avoid predictable issues and predict unavoidable issues. Either way, there will be no surprises when you use the creation.

A hero is someone who rides in to save us from disaster single-handedly through her strength, guile or both. If a hero must ride in, the architect hasn’t done her job.

Bad user interface? What were you doing, Application Architect? Performance issues? How did you size it, Technology Architect? Old data? Come on, Information Architect. Did the competition get you? Where was your strategy, Enterprise Architect?

Architecture only respects someone who eliminates the need for heroics. Heroes are villains here. And if an accomplished architect and her work don’t get the headlines, so be it. The result is the reward. Doesn’t mean she has to be saintly. She will get a nod of respect from those in the know and belong to one of the longest-lived and best-paid professions (even if no one can say exactly what she does).

A world without heroes and their dramatics would be so boring, you say? But there would still be the joys of invention, art, sport, love and laughter. These lovely things would flourish more in a world with greater method and standards and foresight and discipline because the would-be heroes could be inventors and athletes and artists and good friends and parents, instead. It is so wasteful for the world to let things go bad then fix them up with heroics.

Of course, many other professions when practised well also avoid the need for heroism. A project manager can plan well and prevent fires, a consultant can predict the future and ensure growth, and so on. But, their world often relies on or applauds heroes. For the architect, obviating heroics is his raison d’être.

Is this hubris? No, just love for a profession that can make our brief passage through a random, meaningless universe a little more graceful.

Published on 2018-08-24 07:03

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