ARCast.TV - Training - Architect as Advocate

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    rojacobs

    ARCast.net - Training - Architect as Advocate

    Ron Jacobs: Hey. This is Ron Jacobs, and welcome back to ARCast TV. You know, I have been reading this very interesting book about two guys who were found guilty of a murder. And of course, they were actually innocent.


    They were sent to prison, and fortunately for them an advocate came along and stood up for them and helped them to defend themselves against the system. And eventually they were set free.


    It is amazing what an advocate can do, isn't it? And today, I want to think about how an architect acts like an advocate. Because I think you will find that it is a very interesting role that the architect has to play. And I bet it is one that you never thought of before. So let's go back to Tech Ed and see the architect as an advocate.


    [music ends]
    Ron: So, I am going to think about the second role of the architect. Now this is one that is a little bit different, also. It is the role of advocate. When I think about what an advocate is...to people in the UK, they have it as part of the legal profession, somebody is an advocate. In the United States, we do not call it an advocate, we call it a lawyer, an attorney.


    But really in its broadest sense an advocate is somebody who speaks on behalf of another, who gives support to another, or maybe somebody who is a legal representative of another person.


    When I was thinking of an example for an advocate, I thought of Allan Dershowitz. Allan Dershowitz is a famous American lawyer. He is well-known for his involvement in one of the most controversial trials of the 90s, he was part of the legal defense team for OJ Simpson.


    Now, I know you guys know about OJ Simpson because it just so happens that the day they announced the verdict for the OJ Simpson trial, I happened to be in Frankfurt. I turned on the television, and I saw they were broadcasting the jury verdict live on the TV there in Frankfurt. So I thought, "Wow, this is world-wide news. This whole thing is happening"


    But I thought it was interesting on of the other cases that Dershowitz defended was a guy named Claus Von Bullo. Now Claus Van Bullo was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder on his estranged wife Sunny, way back in 1982.


    The police had a theory of the crime and what had happened was that they found Sunny Von Bullo unconscious, and next to her body was a syringe. On the tip of the syringe police forensics experts found traces of insulin. They believed that Klaus Van Bullo, in an attempt to murder his wife, injected her with an overdose of insulin. But he did not give her quite enough to kill her; it just left her in a coma.


    And so based on this evidence, they went to trial. He was found guilty. If you can just imagine what that must feel like. Can you just put yourself in his shoes for a minute? You have been found guilty of attempted murder. Your friends have abandoned you. Your family has turned their back on you. The world believes that you are guilty and you have nothing but prison ahead of you for the rest of your life.


    It is a desperate, desperate place. If you were in that place, clearly you need an advocate. Claus Von Bullo went out and hired Allan Dershowitz to be his advocate and Dershowitz later wrote about this. He wrote some interesting things. He said, "Believing in the innocence of my client is not a relevant factor in deciding which cases to take."


    Now when I first read that I thought, "Oh, there is a lawyer for you. They do not care if you are innocent or not, they just want to take their money." But really, this is a great, great insight into the mind of an advocate. Because an advocate is committed to supporting you, regardless of what they believe about you personally. That is an advocate for you.


    And secondly he said, "I can't both be your friend and always be straight with you. I can be your lawyer and I will always be straight with you." A lawyer has to be brutally honest. And that is the way it is when you are an advocate.


    Here is the interesting thing. Dershowitz got their defense team together, and they came up with a strategy. They needed to have a way to defend this client and their strategy for the appeal was to attack this piece of evidence, this syringe with the insulin.


    And so they did a lot of research, brought in their own chemical forensic experts, and they found that Scotland Yard had done some research on this and found that certain combinations of drugs could lead to a false positive test.


    They submitted syringes to various independent labs in blind experiments and were able to prove that this insulin test could have been a false test. And based on this evidence, they were able to get the conviction overturned and Claus Van Buller went free in 1985.


    Whether or not he was an innocent man, I do not really know. I know that to this day, he is still free and his wife is still in a coma. Which is a tragic situation, but really our purpose is to think about the advocate in this case.


    You see, as an architect, you are an advocate. You are representing somebody -- a client, a stakeholder, a business, somebody is asking for a solution that you are in charge of building. And as an advocate, you are going to act on their behalf. You are going to serve them and meet their needs.


    So I thought this was so interesting, I decided to actually find an attorney. So I contacted our guys in Microsoft Los Angeles Area. I asked them if they could help me find and attorney that would talk to me on camera.


    Not just any attorney -- I did not want a corporate lawyer or a tax attorney. I wanted a criminal defense attorney, somebody who actually defends criminals. And so they found somebody for me. So let us take a look at this video.


    [music begins]
    Ron: I am here at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Ines. Now, coming to court is serious business. If you have ever been charged with a crime, you really are in a position where you need some help. And you are going to want somebody who knows the law. But more than that, you are going to want somebody who is on your side. Somebody who will represent you. Somebody who will serve as your advocate.


    [pause, music]


    Now you might be saying, "This is crazy. I am building a software project. I do not need a lawyer. But I want you to think about how the lawyer in his role as advocate acts in the same way that you need to act for your client when you are building a project.


    [pause, music]


    [music ends]
    Ron: Let us imagine that maybe I have been charged with some sort of criminal matter and I was going to meet with you, and you are going to represent me. What kinds of things would you tell me.


    Gerald: Well, first of all I would not tell you much. I would listen to you. And I would listen to your story, because I am the only one who will. There is already a structure set up against you.


    There is the prosecution's evidence brought by the police department's investigators and to the prosecutor. And there is a case file, based on a case they have already set up top to bottom, but it is usually pretty bare-bones.


    Your job is as you come in you do not get that right away, so you have to start building. So what I do is I ask my clients who they are. I ask them...I start the day before the incident, I try to get them to talk, get used to talking to me.


    And then I find out as much about what went on in the 24 hours or whatever assuming it is an instantaneous crime that they are charged with as opposed to embezzlement over a long period. But I start at the beginning with a little before, and lead them through until I get a video in my mind of what conduct they did which brought in police intervention or the activations. Then, I debrief them entirely. Based on that, I start developing a private investigator protocol. All the things I want a private investigator to follow up on. Chemical and forensic, alcohol expert or whatever I need for that protocol. If I can see it coming there, sometimes a polygraph.


    After that, I have them give me a biography because the police reports show only a thing they did and there is more to it than that. You have to build a round person. You have to build a dynamic person so you have got to know them.


    [music]


    Ron: You see every project has a client. You might not have thought about who your client is, but it would be really important to know, because, they are the one who you are building the software for. They are the ones that you are going to have to keep in mind whenever you are thinking about the things you need to build and what kind of problems you are running into. They are the ones who you are going to be negotiating for as you are looking at the technologies that you'll apply and the kind of changes you are willing to accept. They're your client.


    Sometimes you have to speak straight with them. Sometimes you have to tell them the things that no one else wants to tell them, but they're your client. You have to represent them as an advocate.


    Ron:To be an advocate, there are three things you have to do. You have to listen, observe and think strategically. Now, when I find out that listening is actually one of the problems that architects have. Sometimes they don't listen very well and because they aren't listening very well, they build things that people don't really want. When you are listening, you have to first of all figure out "who do I need to listen too?" and I would encourage you to make the pool of people you are listening to rather large.


    Listen to the customers. Listen to the partners and the users, the developers. Get the whole big picture of what is going on and make sure you understand the resources that are available, the needs that the client has and any unique challenges to the organization.


    Look at what their preferences are and how they do business.


    One architect is actually hired to build a production system for manufacturing assets, actually followed a piece of equipment all throughout the life cycle and interviewed people along the way. I love that because you know what you find out when you do this? You learn little bits of information that you wouldn't learn any other way.


    Like, when you are down on the warehouse dock, and you are talking to the guy who actually unloads the thing from the truck. You watch what he does and you say, "Now what was that little thing that you did there?" He is like, "Oh yeah. When we bring this in here, we have to check this thing off here and tell somebody about that." You find some piece of information that is crucial to the success of the project but nobody ever thought to say it.


    I have been on the other end of this, actually recently, in building the website that you saw earlier about training architects. I would have thought, of all people that I would do a good job of completely articulating what we wanted to the architect who was building that site. But, I have to tell you there were like a dozen times when I went, "Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you. I want to have..." this, this and that. You have been on the receiving end of this right? Don't leave me up here. [laughter] I see those hands. Yes. We need to follow things through to their completeness and this is one way to do it.


    Now, there are some startling examples of failure to observe. I am sure there are many in the corporate world, but mostly corporations like to hide their mistakes. But governments cannot hide anything. [laughter] One of the most colossal failures of software in recorded history, 13 years, billions of dollars spent. Not a single line of code that ever went into production. I would not want to be the architect on that project.


    The United States Government decided to replace the air traffic control system and set out on this huge project to solve this problem. It was never used and when the study, after the fact, tried to understand what went wrong, they came up with some interesting observations.


    Now, I want you to think with me about they way an air traffic controller works. They spend their days looking at a radar screen. On this radar screen are little blips with numbers that represent flights. Each flight has people on-board that aircraft. If you make a mistake, people will die, as happened just very recently when two aircraft collided over the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil. The investigation discovered that the air traffic controllers had inadvertently assigned both of them to the same altitude and the aircraft collided. 155 people died.


    Can you feel the pressure of this job? You are starring at this screen day in and day out. Lives are at stake. The new system that they developed required the air traffic controller, when they wanted to change the vector of a plane, to take their eyes off their screen, look at another monitor, enter 16 keystrokes and then turn back. Suddenly they have lost all contacts. "What was I looking at? Where was that flight? What happened?"


    Can you understand why they absolutely refused to use the new system? Now here is the tragic thing. When they asked, "How could they have been so foolish as to design a new system that the air traffic controllers would not use?" It turns out that the planners of this project explicitly told the architects not to observe then air traffic controllers because they did not want to limit their creativity.


    It is OK. You can laugh at that. That is a tragic joke isn't it? The idea that they would not observe these people working in their environment. Yet, sometimes, I have seen many projects where when the users finally get them, they hate them. Haven't you ever seen people go, "Oh yeah. That is my new system. I liked the old one better. Can't we go back to the old one?" No. We get this all the time because sometimes the architects think "We know better. We don't want to do things they way they used to." We give people something they don't want to use.


    Remember I said that Dershowitz and his legal team developed a strategy of how they were going to win the appeal for Carlos Sambula. Likewise, architects need to understand strategy. The business has a strategy or at least they ought to and it would be good for the architect to understand what's the business' strategy. How do they intend to win in their marketplace? How do they intent do defeat the competition?


    Understanding the strategy helps you to answer these questions. Could the design of your system advance the clients business? Could it transform the enterprise or the way the individual users work? So these are the things that an advocate has to think about.


    [music]


    Ron: Yeah, that is what an architect has to think about. There's a lot to it really. Being an advocate really means that you are always focusing on the needs of the client. You are thinking about what is best for them, what is best for their business, how the solution is going to be moving their business forward.


    You know, sadly enough, many times projects don't operate that way. You find that the team is really more interested in advancing their career or experimenting with the latest cool new technology or making more money for their consulting firm, or what ever it is. I think that business people can see through that and that really hurts the whole professions. So, if you are an architect, be an advocate. Represent them; talk straight to them; tell them like it is. Because, the truth is, everybody needs an advocate from time to time.


    I hope you enjoyed that. We will see you next time.

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