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Our house has an appalling layout. It’s a bungalow that has been extended twice – both times before we bought it.

We have one room in the middle of the house, surrounded on all sides by other rooms, so no natural light other than a skylight.

One bedroom has two doors. It can be tempting to use that room as a thoroughfare to get from one part of the house to another. Not ideal if you’re the owner of the bedroom.

We also have a maze of corridors, which are essentially just wasted space.

After years of putting up with it, we decided it was time for a change. Time to make the house fit the family, not the family fit the house.

So we contacted an architect.

His first question was, “What changes do you want to make to the layout?”.

That’s the wrong question to ask.

We’re not architects! We have no idea what changes we want to make, only the problems that the current layout causes.

But it wasn’t just this architect – every architect we spoke to asked the same thing.

A better question to ask would be, “What do you want to achieve?”, or possibly, “What don’t you like about the current layout?”.

You see, it’s much easier to quantify what the problem is than it is for me, with no architecture expertise, to come up with the solution.

That’s the expert’s job – in this case, the architect.

This is true in IT as well.

People say things like, “We’ll need two database servers”. I’d challenge that. You might want a reliable database service (which is a “requirement”), but merely having two database servers doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the result you want.

Our job, as the owner of a not-quite-what-we-want bungalow, is to define the problems we’re trying to solve.

The architect’s job is to take those problems and use their skill and experience to propose solutions.

If your Linux systems don’t provide you with exactly what you want, define the shortcomings rather than the solutions. When you’ve done that, take the problems to an expert to solve. If you don’t have a Linux expert, let me know and I’ll lend you one of ours.

Oh, and if you want to know more about defining requirements, download a free copy of our Amazon #1 best seller, The Linux Solution.

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