The Winchester Mansion Metaphor for Software Development

Ever heard of the Winchester Mansion? Leaving aside the local superstitions and history, the mansion is an enormous “mystery house” located in southern California. The house is a present-day tourist attraction, made even more popular recently as a set on TV show American Horror Story. The mansion features doors leading only to long drops, stairs that lead to nowhere, inaccessible interior rooms, and confusing maze-like halls. It’s complicated, albeit extravagant.


Here’s what it looks like:

So how is the Winchester Mansion a metaphor for software development?



So how is the Winchester Mansion a metaphor for software development?


One of the trends in software development over the past decade has been to move away from long planning cycles toward fast iterations. This is great because it removes the long “analysis paralysis” of gathering and documenting product requirements. It poses a major problem though: too many developers are reinventing the wheel with each new sprint. Rather than having a tried-and-true blueprint or system to follow, developers find themselves quickly throwing together a lot of separate and complicated parts to accelerate product development.


What To Do To Be More Efficient


So what do you do? Rather than use an ad hoc, Winchester Mansion-style model, developers should instead focus on what Mercenary calls “architectural consistency.” This consistency will help provide a framework to deliver a higher quality product in a more efficient manner.