This is a very interesting analogy presented in the Architecture Thinking course by IBM.
“Are you an I or a Pi?”
This is related to making a difference between specialists and architects. The question is actually “Are you a specialist or an architect?”
The picture above describes it perfectly. “I” is one specialty. If you are a specialist in Java/.Net/iOS/Android/etc. that is your “I”.
“Pi” describes architects. Architects might have one or more specialties (in the Pi picture there are two “I” specialties) but that’s not the architectural strength. Their strength is that line above those “I”‘s. They need to have a broad scope to be able to see the big picture and to guide specialists in doing their work.
Quite often people ask “are architects better than specialists?” or “is the architecture the next step in a growth of a developer?”
On both questions I would answer no. As an architect you need to have an IT background but you are not better than a specialist. Your scope is just different. Projects need both architects and specialists.
Take a look at it in medical terms. Architects would be General Practitioners while specialists (developers or SME’s) would be Surgeons.
A General Practitioner knows a lot and is your first go-to person in case of a problem. But GP can’t save your life. He can see where the problem is and then he can engage a proper specialist. A specialist can save your life but he will just fix the problem that GP pointed out. GP sees the big picture and can engage one or more surgeons to help you out.
But that doesn’t mean GP’s are better than Surgeons. We need both of them.
So, in deciding about your future role don’t think who is better or more paid, think about where your comfort zone is and what do you want to do. Being a surgeon to the rest of your professional career is fine. Being a GP to the rest of your professional career is fine as well.