I must tell you, I hate training.  I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! This is me in a training class …

sad_bee

Just a sad sack. Why? Because most training sucks, that’s why!  I always feel like give an equivalent amount of undisturbed time, I could learn more on my own.  In one hour’s time, I can watch key sections of about 10 videos at 1.5x speed in a Silverlight player and get more out of that hour than an entire day of watching someone slog through a deck targeted at the least common denominator.  So, most of the time, I avoid training.

There are exceptions, however.  I remember fondly the Guerilla .NET course I took in LA shortly after the .NET 1.0 release taught by Mike Woodring and Keith Brown.  And last week, I had the privilege of attending IDesign’s Architect's Master Class taught by Juval Lowy.  I must tell you, that even for a bitter, jaded, cynical old architect, it was a wonderful experience.  I’ve let the material and my thoughts marinade for a bit and I’m now ready to give my initial thoughts.

First off, if you don’t know who Juval is, you need to stop reading my tripe and head immediately over to his site and just start reading.  Just pick a random point and start reading.  Or better yet, grab one of his books.  I’ll wait.    After a few articles, you will get the idea.  And, you will think you understand what I’m talking about.  But, you don’t understand.  I’ve been reading Juval in MSDN and in books for years and I thought I understood too.  I had no idea.

For five days straight, you get an uninterrupted stream of thoughts on design, technology, life, WCF, Microsoft any 5 or 10 minutes of which could be blown out into another hour of discussion, questions and learning.  It’s truly an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.  It’s like when Tron, Ram and Flynn drink from the energy river … “You always forget how good fresh energy feels, till you get to a pure source”.  And, Juval does not dumb it down.  Thank goodness.  His class is designed from top to bottom for the elite.  He has a marvelous disdain for the least common denominator.  He purposefully wants to show his students what the next level looks like and he does a sublime job of it.

I do myself credit here, so please forgive the conceit, but it was nice to find a kindred spirit in Juval.  I have long since realized that the industry does not appreciate what architects do.  And, I have long since realized that we work in a field replete with charlatans and snake oil salesmen.  Juval described it in terms of people in the middle ages dealing with the Plague.  Some people realized, he reasoned, that in order to survive, they would need to create a bubble of sanity and hygiene around themselves.  That’s exactly what I did with the company that I founded before I came to Microsoft.  I got sick and tired of dealing with “the mob” and wanted to do things my way – and that’s exactly what I did for three years.  Over and over again, Juval would bring up points that I believed in, but describe them in a new and interesting.  It was wonderful to hear a different perspective on beliefs I have long held on the industry, architects, projects, methodologies, management, and life.

After the class, I had the opportunity to ask Juval some questions one-on-one.  Instead of the usual 100 different questions/points of contention I would have had if this was normal training, the only question I had on my mind was to ask myself “Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?”  That’s the question I am still asking myself.  I think this is the highest complement I can give to the Architect’s Master Class.  The information was so complete and so well delivered that by the end of the week, the ball was in my court.

The bottom line is that if you have the opportunity to take the Architect’s Master Class or you have the opportunity to send one of your architects, do yourself and your organization a favor and sign up now.