The importance of ‘also’
“Every business is an information business.”
That was the first line of an infographic I saw this morning.
And yep, no doubt about it: every business is indeed an information business.
But there’s a rather important word that’s missing there: also.
Fact is that every business is just a business. Nothing else.
Every business is also an ‘information business’, in that it garners and works with and acts on information.
Every business is also a people business, in that the business itself is (to use Bob Marshall’s words) all about “attending to folk’s needs”.
Every business is also a relationship business, in that it ultimately depends on garnering and working with and acting on the relationships with all of those people.
Every business is also a marketing business, in that it ‘sells’ its idea, its purpose, its reason-to-be, through all of those relationships.
Every business is also an asset-management business, in that it must garner and work with and act on all manner of assets.
Every business is also an event-driven business, in that it responds to a variety of trigger-events.
Every business is also a purpose-driven business, in that it uses (variously-layered) notions of purpose to guide its decision-making about those events.
Every business is also a…
Yeah, you get the picture: we could go on indefinitely, couldn’t we?
Yet the core of it all is that every business is just a business is just a business – nothing else. ‘The business’ as a unified whole. Everything else – every prepended attribute such as ‘information’ or ‘marketing’ or ‘people’ or ‘asset’ or whatever – is merely one amongst an almost infinite variety of ‘also‘.
Without the ‘also’, there tends to be an implicit ‘only’: “is an information business” reinterpreted as “is only an information business”. The moment someone forgets the ‘also’, we’re straight into some form of ‘-centrism’. (As happened in that original infographic mentioned above, in fact: it started with “Every business is an information business”, and two lines later we were straight into full-on IT-centrism. Sigh…)
From an architectural viewpoint, reality is this:
- things work better when they work together, on purpose
- everything depends on everything else
- nothing is inherently ‘more important’ than anything else
- everywhere and nowhere is ‘the centre’, all at the same time
The moment we get any of that that wrong, we’d no longer be doing architecture – we’d be doing ‘solutioneering’. Which is not a good idea…
The architecture is in the connections and interdependencies between everything and everything else, on purpose.
Or, in short, the architecture is in the ‘also’.