Great idea! Let’s get started!
How do we get started?
Kind of ‘There’s a hole in my bucket‘, often – everything depends on everything else, so there’s no clear place to start. But since everything does depend on everything else, it’d all be fine once I get started. If I could find where to start…
It’s kinda like starting-friction, or perhaps even more what engineers call ‘stiction‘ – a combination of rolling-friction plus inertia plus binding-friction. Otherwise known as the energy needed to keep going, preceded by the energy needed to get started, preceded by the energy needed to get everything loosened-up enough to be able to move at all.
Or, in human terms, the effort of doing anything, plus the endless effort of dithering in procrastination, plus the very real effort of getting unstuck-enough to get started.
Once I do get started, I do tend to keep going until they’re finished. (Sort-of, anyway. Mostly. Okay, maybe only some of the time, perhaps… ) But procrastination? – sure, I’m a real master at that one. The idea for this blog-post came up in the shower first thing this morning, of course, and the notes for it finished no more than half an hour after that. But yeah, it’s already some five hours or so later, and I’ve only just got started. Oh well.
Yet it’s breaking the starting-friction that’s often the hardest part of all. Not so hard with this kind of post, perhaps – which in turn is perhaps why I write so much… But for anything else? – yeah, it’s real easy to get real stuck. So much so that for some really quite important things I still haven’t got started at all.
Take podcasts, for example. I really ought to be doing podcasts, to accompany the blogs and the books and everything else. I also need much the same sort of process to do sound-tracks for my slidedecks, which would make them a lot more useful all round. But I don’t know how to get started. Yes, in theory, I could use the built-in microphone on my laptop or my tablet, but I know that in reality I’d actually need a decent microphone, with pop-screen and mechanical-insulation and the rest, otherwise the sound-quality would be no good. I know I’d need to set up the room properly to keep ambient-noise at bay. I know I’d need to edit the sound to add head-and-tail and to generally clean it up. Yet I don’t know how to do any of that, on and with any of the equipment I already have – and everything, it seems, depends on everything else already being in place. Which is why I still haven’t got started – even though it was already urgent several years ago…
Then there’s videos and vodcasts – which is kinda same-again, really. Yes, I could use the webcam in the laptop or the tablet, but I’ve seen enough YouTube videos to know how ghastly its (lack of) quality really is. And in fact I already have at least three or four possibly-suitable video-cameras of various vintages available to me, if I knew how to use them – which, for this purpose, I mostly don’t. There’s the same problems with microphones and stuff; but on top of that there’s the blunt fact that no room in this house is suitable for the job, especially if I need to set up lighting and green-screen and suchlike – which I probably do, but I don’t know how to do that either. Nor video-editing. And so on, and so on…
There’s drawings and graphics, for this blog and for books and courseware and so on. That I do mostly know how to do, with Visio on my antiquated Windows-XP box, or Omnigraffle and other apps on the Macs: but the workflow is so tangled and tedious – especially for blogs, where I end up having to use three or four apps just to get even the simplest of diagrams done – that it often just doesn’t seem worth the effort. What I really want is to be able to do a quick sketch, probably with a few text-captions thrown in as well, but all inside the blogging-app. Which doesn’t exist. And even when I do get a new diagram done, it ends up with the literally hundreds of graphics already on this blog, which makes it a nightmare to find anything again to re-use. Again, seems there’s no way to start to get anything working any better.
Everything depends on everything else.
More to the point, everything seems to depend on everything else being there first.
Which, unsurprisingly, leaves me kinda stuck.
Sure, in theory, I could find all the information on the net, couldn’t I? In theory, perhaps yes; but in practice, mostly no. It’s the same problem all over again: if I knew what I was looking for, I could find it – but I don’t, so I can’t. What I get instead is page after page of advert-laden blog-posts and hour upon hour of YouTube-videos that don’t actually give me the information I need so as to get started. It’s there, somewhere – probably, perhaps, maybe – but where?
Where do I start, so that I can start, so that I can start?
Probably the only way that I could get started is to meet up with someone who does know how to get started. Which most people who already do whatever-it-is-that-I-want-to-do probably can’t tell me anyway, because they’ve been doing it so long that they’ve long since forgotten how hard it was for them to get started.
That’s where’s a real need for hubs, colleges, maker-communities and the like. But where do I find even those? Where I live right now doesn’t seem to have anything like a hub, or a maker-community: the nearest is probably more than fifty miles away – in fact my nearest professional-colleague lives more than twenty miles from where I am. So it’s the same problem, yet again, about knowing where to start in order to know how to start.
And reality is that everyone is stuck in the same kind of starting-friction, whenever they and we try to get started on anything different, anything new. Reducing that friction is one of the hardest parts of any business-model design; finding ways to get things unstuck – but without falling-apart in a heap – is one of the hardest parts of any business-transformation. And in my experience at least, the hardest challenge in enterprise-architecture is not in doing the sensemaking or creating the models or defining the roadmap to go from here to there, but in getting things to happen – in getting any kind of movement started at all.
Everything depends on everything else. And everything depends on everything else already being in place first, before any kind of change can get started.
“There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, there’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole…”
So how do we get out of that trap? How do we break the starting-friction, in our own projects and elsewhere?
Ideas / suggestions / comments / experiences, anyone?