Chapter 24. Sketching Bank Robbers

Architects as Police Sketch Artists

That’s what he looked like!
That’s what he looked like!

With a demanding job like that of an architect in a large IT organization, it’s a healthy exercise to do more of those things you enjoy and fewer of those you don’t enjoy. Of course, this requires you to know what you truly enjoy (and truly despise) in the first place—a task that can be a little more challenging than it sounds, especially for left-brained IT architects. The latter is generally more easily answered: in my case it’s 8 a.m. meetings with no particular objective that end up in a monologue by the highest-paid person. The former usually takes a bit more reflection. Over the years, I have realized that one of my favorite work activities is to listen to system owners or solution architects describe their system, often in fragments, and to draw a cohesive picture for them. The most satisfying moment happens when they exclaim, “That’s exactly what it looks like,” without them having been able to draw the picture themselves. This exercise is also a great opportunity to learn about those system details that aren’t documented anywhere.

Asking people to tell you about their system so that you can draw it for them may remind you of the old joke that describes consultants (Chapter 38) as those people who borrow your watch to tell you what time it is (and charge you a lot of money ...

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