A calm kind of word. Quiet. Friendly. Supportive, enfolding – those kinds of feelings.

A companion is literally “someone with whom we share bread”. Hence companionship is that state, condition, process, experience, whatever, of ‘sharing bread’ with companions.

So it’s an interesting word – and an especially interesting metaphor for enterprise-architecture.

In your enterprise, in your work-context, or elsewhere, with whom do you share your (metaphoric, or maybe even literal) bread? Why? How? In what ways do you share it? What is it that connects you as ‘companions’ in a shared-enterprise?

With whom do you not share your bread? Why not? How not? How and why are these Others not your companions in this enterprise?

What happens when you offer to share your bread, and your offer is refused? How do you feel about the refusal?

What happens when someone simply takes the bread, perhaps without even asking? How do you feel when your offer is not even noticed, but the bread taken anyway as if as of ‘right’?

What happens when someone agrees to share, offers to share, takes your bread, and then betrays their own offer? What are your feelings about that ‘not-companion’, and about future offers of companionship from that quarter?

It’s a metaphor that can be most enlightening in every aspect of enterprise-architecture, business-architecture, even in IT service-architectures… explore?

Comments, perhaps?

3 Comments on “Companionship

  1. Tom,

    Outstanding. I’ve never considered the relationship I, or the team, has with members of the client/customer/user community in terms of companionship. In truth, now that you mention it, companionship is what is actually being sought with each member of the community. I have always thought of companionship in terms of intimacy. Even when considering companionship as fellowship, there is an implication of intimacy. Although the level of ‘knowing’ among members does not (or should I say, should not) rise to the level found in marriage, an intimate ‘knowing’ is definitely involved. Though having never applied the word companionship to the client relationship, I am surprisingly comfortable with the concept. It goes to love. I am speaking here of both the state of being and the behavior of love. My proposition, then, is that an association is companionship if and only if love exists in it.

    This is really interesting. The aberrations you listed for a client are, unfortunately, part of an EA’s life. As might be expected, I have been confronted by these behaviors. Many years ago, due to these situations, I came up with the idea of auto-forgiveness, which is assuredly an aspect of love. Since it is my desire that my client be a companion for delivering projects, then I should be willing to act in that capacity (forgiveness/love) towards my client regardless of my client’s behavior towards me. To accomplish this, I submit that the EA’s position in the companionship is constantly projected with forgiveness constantly enabled – much like the notion of ‘unconditional love’.

    Not to be distracted: love is not ‘never having to say you’re sorry.’ (From the movie “Love Story”. Oh, please, gag me with a spoon. My wife dragged me off to see it on the second day of our marriage ~ which, for some odd reason, is still going on after 40 years; and that movie.) Actually, it’s one’s companion who never has to say ‘I’m sorry’. So, as long as one member of the companionship acts in love/forgiveness, then the companionship remains. If no love is found in an association, then it is not a companionship.

    I am probably presenting companionship in a stronger way than you may have intentioned. However, I think it must rise to this level to be called companionship.

    I’m thinking there is a book in here someplace.

  2. @Myron Chaffee “My proposition, then, is that an association is companionship if and only if love exists in it.” – a very good point. Reminds me of Stafford Beer’s book ‘The Heart of the Firm’, the follow-on to his previous classic ‘The Brain of the Firm’, about the Viable System Model.

    I’m not trying to make a big deal about the word ‘companionship’: it was just one of those ‘first thing in the morning’ ideas that seemed to stick, and seemed worth exploring. As you’ve shown, it looks like it might well be worth exploring a lot further, especially in the business context.

    As you say, “I’m thinking there is a book in here someplace”. I’ve probably done too many books already: your turn, I think? 🙂

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