Metropolis Article on MSDN...

Sorry for the long quiet... family medical stuff... lots of travel... lots of excuses... I'll try to do better...

Looks like I got an MSDN front page for an article I wrote that was published in Journal a few weeks ago. 

I got asked to post the following ad for JOURNAL:

“The new homepage for JOURNAL - Microsoft’s Architects Journal is live on MSDN Architecture Center: This page describes what JOURNAL is and has links to JOURNAL articles that are now in the MSDN library. Currently, we have all six articles from JOURNAL1 plus MY new Metropolis article from the hot-off-the-presses JOURNAL2. Over the next couple of months, we will be publishing the remainder of JOURNAL2 articles in MSDN. In the meantime, we are providing PDF versions of both issues (available in A4 format for convenient printing) to users who register.”

Today, the article ( ) is on the front page of MSDN. Cool!

I've seen some mail on this and I wanted to post a couple of comments that I had made in response to a couple of questions:

1) We have had major problems getting our customers to except standardized structures, processes, and products. It seems that most people believe, or at least want us to believe, that the way they do things is better than everyone else and we should conform to their requirements. Also, they are reluctant to share technology with their competition. This leads to very complex Software due to the numerous configuration switches required to meet our customers different beliefs. This seems very similar to the standardized clothing example. To make matters worse, they all want it easy to implement, which it is not because of the numerous configuration switches. To make matters worse, “consultants” are used for implementation. Once a consultant gets involved they usually generate more conflicting requirements, hence the problem proliferates and gets worse. Do you have any idea how this type of obstacle was overcome in your Metropolis Comparison?

2) Who plays the role of “City Government” in the IT world?

I am just starting on a very good book by David A Hounshell called “From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932” [John Hopkins, 1984]. In this, he outlines how challenging the transition to interchangeability was. Most people did not believe that it could work and, indeed, for many years it was more expensive as interchangeable parts could only be manually created and they needed to live by additional constraints of fitting to gauges that ensured their completely standard sizes. It was a separate effort to create machines that could create many parts (and the first machines to create parts did not create interchangeable parts). Only because there were some true believers in the war department who wanted battlefield interchangeability for repairs and funded expensive (and for many years unsuccessful) work, did interchangeability come about. This was after over 30 years of failures and the resistance of effectively ALL of the skilled artisans. They resisted interchangeability as eliminating their artistic expression in creating the gun or sewing machine and they resisted the creation of machines to automate their work (for obvious reasons). This transition to interchangeability is HARD!

It is my opinion that City Government maps to IT Departments… there is confusion in the industry about the role of IT and it varies from company to company. Peter Weill of MIT CISR has some great articles and books on this. It is my belief that we will evolve to a world where the business units will fund and drive the creation of applications and the IT shop will function like the city in imposing zoning and building codes. This would include inspections for quality… the funding and drive to complete the project will come from the business unit but the constraints from the IT department. Just my opinion…

I am working on lots more of this to publish and, eventually, create a book. I am committed to having three presentations on this (each 75 minutes) at TechEd in San Diego. The MSDN article represents half of the first presentation. I hope to get a website set up soon to hold all this material (and much more stuff I have written through the years). I already have the domain but there is NO content out there... when something gets posted, the bloggers will hear immediately.