Strange things, metaphors: they kind of have a life of their own sometimes…
My mother tells the story of the first house she and my father lived in, some small place way up in the north of England somewhere, back when my elder brother was still a babe-in-arms. The garden they’d inherited there was an overgrown tangle, and they didn’t have much of a clue about gardening, but it seemed a friendly sort of place. It even had its own toad, hiding in the humid dankness underneath a sprawl of strawberry-creepers that had crept in from under the fence from next-door.
It didn’t take long to see why the toad was there. Next-door’s garden was regimented, ordered, everything under control, just so. And all a bit sad, because nothing was thriving there. Beneath all that would-be perfection, the strawberry-patch was a mess of slugs and snails, stunting all the growth; what few fruit were left were all tiny. Yet over on my parents’ side of the fence, those same plants were producing a lush spread of abundant greenery, enough strawberries to keep a grocery going all on its own – and one very happy toad, who’d made very sure that there was not a single slug to be seen.
My mother realised what was happening in the next-door garden, and even offered to send ‘their’ toad over there. But the neighbour was adamant that she wasn’t having “that disgusting creature” in her perfect space: no way! And continued to fret over the fact that her once-imagined idyll was indeed dying…
Hence interesting that I’ve been writing about ‘the toad in the road‘, because I guess that’s what I am myself right now, in this garden we call ‘enterprise architecture’. A toad in the road: right idea, wrong place. Right idea for somewhere, I’d hope. But wrong place for here-and-now. Oh well.
Yeah, enterprise-architecture. You know, this could be a really nice garden? Especially if you got rid of most of this mess of concrete, and let those tired plants in their cracked concrete tubs get their roots down into the dirt at last. Plenty of potential and all that: to get the water flowing again, you might have to take a stick of dynamite to that ugly-looking paddling-pool that the last lot of kids built for themselves, over in the corner called ‘IT-centrism‘, but hey, it’s all here. Why not do it?
You’d wondered where all the wildlife went, but can’t you see there’s not much that can thrive in this kind of desert? A few bugs and wood-lice and a lizard or two, perhaps, but that’s about it. If you want it to work, perhaps plant a few things that can actually grow here: get a bit of shade going an’ all that. There’s a few plants of my own that might grow well here too, if given a halfway-decent chance: the Enterprise Canvas, perhaps, or that notation-agnostic metamodel; or maybe even a bunch of ideas about value-trees, about the service-oriented enterprise and the structure of management – kinda strange-looking at first, I know, but they really do work in this kind of climate. Only a suggestion, of course: it’s your garden, after all.
I’ll have to admit, though, that this isn’t really my kind of place that you’ve got here. Partly my fault, perhaps: I do know I’m kind of an Outsider – always have been, I guess – though I really have tried, I promise you. It’s just I really can’t cope with all the broken-down bits of machinery parked all over the place, and the possessiveness that still pervades everything: they do kinda get in the way all the time. And a bit too grey, too cold, too lifeless: too corporate, I suppose you could say? I’m gettin’ old, I s’pose: I need somewhere that’s a bit more comfortable with having real people around the place, a bit more aware of the anarchic nature of, well, nature itself? I guess I could do with a bit more of the bigger picture, too: and I don’t mind all those mythquakes that we can see coming down the road a ways, though I know they do worry some other folks a lot.
I’ll still be around, of course: if you need me, you know where to find me. And I’m always happy to drop by in your garden – especially if you find a way to bring it more back to life again.
But yeah, I gotta face the facts: this kind of ‘enterprise’-architecture garden ain’t no place for the likes o’ me – and out here at present I’m just another toad in the road.
So it’s “goodbye and thanks for all the slugs”, I guess? – because it seems like it’s time for this old toad to be a-movin’ on.