Making plans, sort-of

Okay, I’ve moved on to a different garden: what next? What’s the plan?

Uh… probably that ‘The Plan’ is that there isn’t one? In fact that’s the whole point?

(Or, if you simply must have a plan, I could paraphrase a former colleague and say that the plan is to not have a specific plan.)

Why? Simple reason, really: the purpose of a plan is to control something. And since ‘control’ is itself little more than a rather forlorn myth – especially in this kind of context – then it really doesn’t make sense to have a plan, because ‘control’ doesn’t make sense either.

I do have a sense of the direction I’m headed, though. Call that ‘a plan’, if you like. Sort-of.

It’s still enterprise-architecture. But a much bigger view of enterprise-architecture than you’d normally see associated with that term.

[As an aside, one of the joys of this shift is that I won’t have to waste any more time arguing with the IT-obsessed and, now, the business-obsessed, about their misuse of the term ‘enterprise-architecture’. I know it’s wrong, they know it’s wrong, everyone knows it’s wrong, and just about everyone knows the damage that that term-hijack is causing, too. But hey, if they really need to keep on ‘pissin’ in the pool’, best to just leave ’em to it, I guess. At least when you come here, you do know that when I talk about ‘enterprise architecture’, I do mean ‘enterprise’, and ‘architecture’, and the way they fit together – and not some piddling point about how two IT-boxes talk to each other. Unless we do need to talk about that. Which we do sometimes, of course. 🙂 ]

What I’m really aiming at is the architecture of the biggest enterprise we have: the human enterprise. All of it. Which takes place within a broader ecosystem, usually referred to as ‘this planet’ or suchlike. Which is, yes, kinda big…

[In Twitter and elsewhere I’ll use the hashtag #rbpea to indicate this type of ‘Really-Big-Picture Enterprise-Architecture’.]

Why? It’s because I can see there are some big, big, BIG architecture-type questions that just about no-one else seems to have addressed so far, if at all. Or even noticed, in most cases. Kind of ‘oops…’, if you like. A very big ‘oops…’.

Which means that someone needs to be doing something about that ‘very big oops…’. And I look around, and I can’t see anyone else doing it, or putting their hand up to do it. Which, uh, kinda suggests that it’s my turn to do something about it. Yikes… Yeah, kinda challenging, coming face to face with that…

It doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily be much good at it: others would probably be a lot better for this than I am, no doubt about that. But it’s clear that someone needs to hold the fort for now: and right now that ‘someone’ seems to be me. Oh well…

I certainly don’t claim to have ‘the Answers’; at the moment I’d barely claim to have more than a few good questions. But at least it’s something. And I do have some relevant skills and experience, so in that sense I do have some ‘response-ability’ here. Hence, in that sense, my responsibility.

So that’s the ‘plan’, really: be responsible. See what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel, and then literally ‘be response-able’ about that. Be like Wangari Maathai’s hummingbird – or perhaps, in my case, more like a weary, wary old toad – just doing the best I can.

Not a big plan. Not a complicated plan, with a nice big complicated roadmap from ‘as-is’ to ‘to-be’ and crop-circles an’ all that, like what all those realproper certififificateded enterprise-architects do.

But a plan. Sort-of.


There’s one part of this plan, though, that a fair few people may not like – and I perhaps ought to apologise for that in advance. (Though might be better to just stop apologising for everything anyway?) It’s just that being responsible also means being honest: and being honest about what I see is going to annoy a few folks – because to be blunt there are a heck of a lot of ideas and actions out there that are just plain dumb. Stupid: the definitely-not-a-good-idea kind of stupid. Often the darn-lucky-if-we-survive-this-one kind of really stupid, too. Sorry, but it’s true.

One example of that kind of ‘really-stupid’ is the notion of ‘rights‘, which just does not and cannot work, no matter how much people try to kludge to make it it look as if it does. It’s bullshit: it’s a ‘kiddies-anarchy’ view of the world, built around evasion of any notion of responsibility. And we need to stop pretending that it’s anything more than that – so that we then do have a chance to rebuild something that actually can and does work.

Ditto the entirety of what’s laughably called ‘economics‘. Ditto the whole notion of ‘intellectual property’ – or most any current form of so-called ‘property’, for that matter. Ditto, behind it, the entire concept of ‘possession‘. All of us know it’s all bullshit, a made-up fantasy to prop up the pretences of people whose idea of ‘making a living’ consists almost entirely of untrammelled theft – an ‘economy’ based on theft-without-end. Gosh: that’s an ‘economy’??? – doesn’t look like one to me… not in any sane sense of ‘economy’ that I’ve ever heard of, anyway… So why not say so? – before we really do all end up in drowning in this bullshit?


In that old fable of ‘the Emperor has no clothes’, it’s a naive kid that unknowingly calls everyone’s bluff, by saying the truth about what he see. But I’ve come to realise that in reality it isn’t some innocent kid: it’s a grumpy old toad like me. Which means that sometimes – often, perhaps – some people ain’t gonna like what I say about what I see. Too bad. Sorry, ’bout that, but there ’tis: there are only two choices here – it’s either be honest, or don’t bother, and from now on I’m a lot clearer about which one of those two I need to pick.

One thing I won’t do is put anyone else down. I’ll challenge the bullshit whenever I see it, and challenge hard about it at times (and expect others to challenge me about that, too): but it’ll always be about the ideas, the thinking, the action – not the person. I promise you that. So if you find yourself ‘taking it personally’ about something I’ve said, please look closely at yourself first, and before you come out all-guns-blazing at me – because it’s in that ‘taking it personal’ that you’re most likely to learn the most, and most likely to find out who you truly are.

Anyway, down to it. That’s the plan, sort-of. And yes, there’s a lot to do – and a lot to talk about with you, too, if you wish?

3 Comments on “Making plans, sort-of

  1. Tom, one thing I have noticed on EA & Strategy projects the last few years is things coming out of ‘left field’ and emergence. ‘The best made plans of mice and men’ spring to mind. @aptivator (ex @storiedstrategy) tweeted the other week: ‘As #complexity rises, precise #strategy statements loose meaning and meaningful statements loose precision! #narrative’. A big criticism (by some) is that Enterprise Architecture is not agile enough (agile – oh how I hate that word); yes there is scenario planning but perhaps we need something more flexible? Strategic plans can decay very quickly over time due to emergence. Perhaps the building metaphor is finally dead and it is an organism from here on in? After all it is a living Planet – Just some random thoughts.

    • Stephen – ooh, some good points here!

      One of them is scenarios: from a futurist perspective, the version of ‘scenarios’ that you’ll see in TOGAF and the like is little better than a slightly-glorified use-case, and is simply not usable for strategy-work. For a better description, go see the how-tos on the Shell website: there are some critiques about the method (see Wikipedia at ), but at least it’s a start? 🙂 The point about the Shell method was that it was a break from the old idea of ‘predicting the future’ (as reflected in the dread non-strategy of “last year +10%”…) and more towards futures (plural), where the process of exploration was as important, if not more important, than the nominal results of the exploration.

      And yes, agree with the misuse/overuse/whatever of ‘agility’ – it’s actually a whole swathe of attributes that we need from and in an EA, of which agility is merely one of many.

      I would say, though, that the building-metaphor is still useful for some (many?) purposes: it’s just that we have to remember that it is only a metaphor, not the territory itself… 🙂

  2. Tom
    even though you do not have a plan, ( and i think the notion of not having a ‘specific’ plan is excellent), you probably have a few themes ( for the want of a better word… ) that will feature regularly, and although we can probably infer some from the tone of recent posts and discussions, perhaps you could offer a kind of ‘version 0.1 cut’ of your new programme. Is it still recognisably EA ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *