Getting down to work in a different garden

When I said I was moving on, in the previous post ‘Time for this on toad to move on‘, yes, I was serious: I’m moving out of mainstream ‘enterprise’-architecture.

Am I giving up? No, not at all.

Am I actually leaving the entire enterprise-architecture domain? Nope. (Sorry to disappoint a few folks there, but you’ll just have to put up with that. 🙂 )

So what exactly am I doing, then?

All I’m doing here, metaphorically speaking, is that I’m moving along the road a bit: a few metaphoric houses up the road, if you like. Similar sort of work to what I’ve always done, in many ways, but a much bigger picture this time. A much bigger picture. I’m not going to be looking (much) at the ‘enterprise’-architecture of some small bits of detail-level IT any more: I’ll be looking at the ‘enterprise-architecture’ of the whole darn planet…

Arrogant sucker, ain’t I? 🙂

In a way, yeah, of course it is, to say something like that. But if you look around on this blog and elsewhere, in effect that’s what I’ve already been doing, for years. All that’s really different now is that I’m making it a bit more explicit.

And to be blunt, looking around a bit, it really does feel as if I’m one of the few people anywhere who has a freakin’ clue about what’s really going on out there (answer: an MQ-9 mythquake [kind of like a worldwide Richter-9 earthquake, only worse]), what chance we have to stop it (answer: none at all), what won’t work (answer: just about everything we might think of as ‘normal’ or ‘business-as-usual’), and what might work (very-tentative-suggested-answer: something on the lines of a responsibility-based service-oriented enterprise model for a global economics, with systematic eradication of any concept of possession – including all concept of ‘rights’ – and total restructure of every possible aspect of politics at every level. In other words, just a few minor changes here and there… 🙂 ). Seems like there might be a real need, then, for someone with my kind of background in futures, social-dynamics, skills-development, creativity, complexity, innovation, sensemaking and strategy, across a whole swathe of different companies, climates, cultures and continents. Oh, and there’s also enterprise-architectures, of course: reckon that might possibly be useful, too.

Yes: a real big need for that.

Kind of a big anti-want for it, though.

A very big anti-want.

Oh well.

But no problem, really. Do I think I can make a living out of it? Nope, of course not: I’m not that crazy. But I’m not making any kind of viable living out of enterprise-architecture, either, so what’s the difference? As long as I can pay my way somehow in this increasingly-insane ‘economic system’, that’s all I’ll need. And given that I’ve survived somehow for all these years, without ever having suffered the indignity of being a so-called ‘permanent’ employee, I reckon I’ll manage to keep going for a while yet. Somehow. Doesn’t really matter that I don’t know how: the way things are going, pretty soon no concept of a ‘plan’ is going to make sense any more, so perhaps I’m just getting in early to beat the rush? 🙂

Yeah, sure it’s lonely at times: I don’t have any real support at all, no family, no partner since literally decades ago, and at my age pretty unlikely ever again. Good: it means that there’s no-one else to get hurt on my behalf if I screw things up.

Sure it’s scary, desperately insecure: I don’t even have a home of my own any more. Good: nothing particularly to lose, then; nothing of that kind that can be used as leverage against me. And I can just up-sticks and go anywhere that I’m needed. Easy. (In principle, anyway… 😐 )

I’m useless at organising anything, events, stuff like that. Good: instead of desperately pretending that I can do everything myself, let other people do that stuff instead – they’re much better at it than I’ve ever been or ever will be. Just do my part of the work, and let others get on with theirs. Simple. (Interesting challenges on trust, of course… 😐 )

Turn every obstacle into an opportunity. Live this stuff that I’ve been talking about: rather than ‘making a living’, much better to go for ‘making a life’.

Crazy? Sure. Of course it is: never said it wasn’t. But then I come out of a family-background with a long anarchist-style tradition (of the more constructive if occasionally-quixotic Quaker variety, rather than the brainless bomb-throwing kind), and it’s about time I put those principles into real-world practice. Time to give something back – especially as, at age 60, I probably don’t have that many years left in which to do so. That fact matters, a lot. It also brings its own rather interesting sense of urgency…

So what does all this mean, in plain, ordinary, everyday terms?

Various things I won’t be doing:

  1. I won’t do any more work here on detail-layer analysis of IT-oriented ‘enterprise’-architecture such as TOGAF or Archimate (unless anyone specifically asks me for an opinion or whatever).
  2. I won’t be presenting myself for any more contract-work as an ‘enterprise-architect’. (I’ll still be available to do spot-work commercial consultancy or training for most types of EA, in just about any industry that isn’t finance, banking or insurance – but I will expect to get paid for that, every time.)
  3. I won’t offer any more ‘free’ advice on enterprise-architecture or whatever to people who can darn well afford to pay for it. (I’ll still be more than happy to help anyone in any other way – especially any of the upcoming ‘new generation’ of enterprise-architects.)
  4. I probably won’t be going to any more ‘enterprise’-architecture conferences, not least because I won’t be able to afford it (unless someone pays at least my expenses, of course).
  5. I won’t pander any more to people who to me seem arrogant, bullying, unwilling to think, and otherwise acting in an asinine or irresponsible manner (and yes, there’s been a lot of them I’ve put up with way too often over the past few years…)

Various things I will be doing:

  1. I will be doing a lot more research and exploration on ‘big-picture’ themes, developing new types of tools and techniques to tackle those issues in a much more constructive way than as at present; and working with others to develop new toolsets and training-materials for these needs. (It’d be nice if someone else paid for some of that work, but being realistic I wouldn’t expect it, unless anyone else that I’m working with is getting paid for it too.)
  2. I will be doing various types of consultancy-work with non-profits, citizen-groups and other organisations that are reaching towards a more constructive world. (Again, it’d be nice if I got paid to do some of that, but I’d only expect it from commercial organisations or government bodies, who should be able to afford to subsidise some of that other work at least.)
  3. I will show the EA community and others how to apply those ideas, tools and techniques, within the conventional business context, such as with Enterprise Canvas and the like. (It would likewise be nice if sometimes people would at least offer to pay some of my expenses for doing this, but I do acknowledge that there are too many of us already in this same boat that I am with regard to ‘real-EA’.)
  4. I probably will be going to a wide variety of conferences and other gatherings on broader-scope societal-change topics. (As ever, the real limit here will be my probable near-nonexistent income: so if you really want me at your gathering, please do find some way to subsidise my travel-expenses at least.)
  5. Much of my work and writing will be a lot more ‘political’ and challenging for a lot more folks: in which case, sorry, but that’s just too bad, because none of us can afford to tolerate outright irresponsibility and abuse any more. (I am very clear about what is and is not abuse in the social context, by the way: see the ‘manifesto‘ on that, from my book Power and Response-ability.)

So that’s it: getting down to work in a different garden – a garden that’s a rather better fit, than that of current mainstream ‘enterprise’-architecture, for this admittedly somewhat-strange kind of toad.

Comments / suggestions / requests, anyone?

Posted in Business, Complexity / Structure, Enterprise architecture, Futures, Society, The Outsider Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
5 comments on “Getting down to work in a different garden
  1. Stuart Boardman says:

    Tom, given our chat yesterday this is no big surprise. We’ll speak in London so I’m only really responding, so you know someone’s paying attention.
    “Political” is fine by me. Enterprise Canvas is fine by me. Plenty of work to do in both those areas – plus finding ways to incorporate insights from other folks.
    Look forward to seeing you next week.

  2. Pat says:

    Why not apply to speak at TED?

    I would also follow Seth Godin more. He see’s the same money-less path of the future.

    I’ll be on the sideline watching. Though I left the corporate-architecture world, I still find these skills incredibly useful for any company not understanding the changes that are occurring through the current chaos.

    • Tom G says:

      Pat – thanks for the suggestion re TED, though a) I don’t think I have the nerve (in either sense), b) I definitely don’t think I’m good enough, and c) I kinda doubt that as yet I have much in the form of “ideas worth spreading” – it’s still too diffuse, too blurry, too… well, I think you know what I mean there? Sigh… (But yes, nice idea, though – and very flattered that you think it’s even worth a try…! 🙂 )

      Good luck too in your own change of ‘garden’, by the way: Viditude seems to be coming on well, I think?

  3. Peter T says:

    Twas bound to occur.
    The chaos that is occurring is now more VISABLE and describable (a word?) than ever and moving up the chain (bleeding edge) is what you do. Corp Arch is more and more required to mitigate risk as information moves faster and becomes localised knowledge for instant action/gratification.
    Corporates are struggling with this as they scale up. Those large and loud corporates are often in the media. The large and quiet ones have it under control and the ones to watch. Governments too are suffering with mandate, politician expense ($) and constituent knowledge of reality.
    If we don’t bring all humanity with us – it may all end up in Anarchy due to the resource battles before us – OR – hopefully Anarchy in reverse. Not sure when your time will come – but no good deed goes unpunished so keep up the good work!

    • Tom G says:

      Peter – to quote an old friend, “many thanks for your support, I will wear it always”… 🙂

      There’s a very good point there, though, that one obvious place for monetisation (yuck…) of what I do is in explaining what the risks really are, and what corporations and government-departments and the like to mitigate them (which is actually quite a lot, once they start thinking about it – the real challenge is in doing it…). So yeah, you’re right, I do need to focus on that more.

      And yes, in the longer term (as per my sort-of-novel Yabbies), I do see a kind of responsibility-based variant of anarchy as the most viable option – and also, if we don’t go that direction, then yes, what we’re likely to get is a very different and much more destructive kind of anarchy, as the current ‘elites’ try with ever more desperation to cling on to ‘their’ possessions until the bitter end. Some real challenges ahead…

      But thanks again, anyway – and will keep in touch, of course.

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