The Agile Architect
The Agile Tailor and Other Stories
There's nothing like a humorous column. And trust me, this is nothing like a humorous column. Our Agile Architect pokes fun at all things agile.
- By Mark J. Balbes, Ph.D.
I had a dream last night.
I was visiting my tailor Antonio to pick up my new, custom-made suit. I walk in and greet him. "Hi Antonio. How's my suit coming? Have you read my latest Agile Architect column?"
"Well, you see…" he says in a thick Italian accent that I will not try to reproduce here, "I was not going to be finished on time with your suit. I spent too much time reading your Agile Architect columns like you've been badgering me to do."
"When I finally started on the suit, I had an idea. I should apply your work principles to the suit I'm making for you. So I asked myself, what would you do in my position? You would ask, what are the most important aspects of a suit and that's what you'd build first. So what's the most important aspect of a suit jacket, I think. That's easy. It's to square off the shoulders to create an impressive, imposing figure. So rather than building all the features of a jacket, I just created the shoulders." And, so saying, he proudly holds out my new suit jacket, consisting of only the top 8 inches.
"Then," he continues, "I turn to the pants. That was more complicated. What's the most important part of the pants? But, of course, there's really no question. It's to keep the central part of the body warm and of course, to cover the unmentionables." And he proudly holds up my new suit pants, or rather, shorts since there were no legs.
"But," I said, "there are no legs. There's no fly. How am I supposed to...?" my voice trails off.
"It's easy," he says. "Try it on."
The next thing I know, I'm walking down the street in my broad-shouldered bikini suit. I pass the local grocer and decide I'd like an apple. I walk in and Antonio, the grocer, greets me. "How are you, Dr. Balbes?" Antonio says.
"Hi Antonio. Have you read…?" I start.
"Yes, yes, I've read your latest article. What can I do for you?"
"Well," I respond. "I really have a taste for a nice apple." I say, reaching for a ripe red apple lying on the top of the apple barrel.
"No, no! Not so fast," Antonio scolds. "Before you take an apple, we need acceptance criteria, like you say in your articles! Do you like your apple sweet or tart? Do you want it crisp or soft? Do you want a big apple or small? When you smell the apple, what aroma do you want?"
"Um," I respond wisely. "I guess I want a large, crisp, sweet apple with an appley aroma."
"Good, good," Antonio says, "Now we can get to our test-driven phase. Here, take a bite of this," he says holding out an apple for me.
I bite into the apple. It's sweet but a bit mushy. "It's okay, not quite as crisp as I'd like."
"Then try this one," says Antonio, holding out another apple. I take a bite. "Is it too small? Then try this one."
It takes 20 minutes, but we finally find the perfect apple. I bring it to the cash register.
"That'll be $95.50," says Antonio.
"For one apple?" I bite back.
"No, no," says Antonio. "For 20 lbs. of apples," he says gesturing to the floor littered with apples, a single bite out of each.
"Antonio, that was a dirty trick," I say as I pull my arm back, ready to launch my apple in his direction,
"Whoa, whoa," says Antonio. "We didn't pick that apple for throwing. We need new acceptance criteria. What kind of sound do you want the apple to make when it hits? A sharp crack or a squishy squashy sound?"
I lower the apple, pay the money and walk out shaking my head.
Next, I head to my weekly poker game. I walk in the door of my best friend Antonio's apartment. The regular gang is there. "Hey guys," I say, looking studly in my new suit. "Have you read my latest...?"
"Yes!" they all yell in unison.
"Sit," says Antonio. "We've already dealt the first hand." I pick up the cards in front of me and Antonio sidles up right next to me, peering intently over my shoulder at the cards in my hand.
"Hey, Antonio, " I say. "Look at your own cards."
"I am," he says. "We've decided to take a lesson from your articles and play pair poker."
"How is that supposed to work?" I ask.
"You put up the money. I make the bet. You hold the cards. I make more bets. When we win, we split the winnings. Oh, by the way. We're all in!" he says as he pushes all of my cash into the center of the table.
"But..." I start.
"Three kings, Antonio," says another of my poker buddies. He throws down his cards and grabs up all my cash.
"But..." I stammer.
"Too bad," says Antonio. "Looks like we're out of the game. Do you have any more cash?"
"No," I say dejectedly. "I guess I'm just going to go home,". As I walk out the door, I hear Antonio whisper, "Now maybe he'll stop with the articles, always those damn articles."
I decide to take the long way home through the park. After a short altercation with a police officer about appropriate attire, I finally make it home. As I walk in the front door, my wife takes one look at me in my new mini-suit, still clutching my perfect apple and bursts into laughter. "What happened to you?" she says.
"Hi honey. I'm home." I say dejectedly, but out of habit. "Have you read my latest article?"
"Well, as a matter of fact, I did," she says. "In fact," she continues, directing me over to the couch and sitting down next to me, "I think it's about time we have a retrospective about your performance in the bedroom."
And then I woke up.
Dr. Mark Balbes serves as Vice President, Architecture at Asynchrony Solutions, and leads multiple Agile projects for Government and Fortune 500 companies. He received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from Duke University in 1992, then continued his research in nuclear astrophysics at Ohio State University. Dr. Balbes has worked in the industrial sector since 1995 applying his scientific expertise to the disciplines of software development. He has led teams as small as a few software developers to as large as a multi-national Engineering department with development centers in the U.S., Canada, and India. Whether serving as product manager, chief scientist, or chief architect, he provides both technical and thought leadership around Agile development, Agile architecture, and Agile project management principles.