On (not) changing the world

Back on the ‘no more arguments‘ theme, there were a couple of responses I received that, although nominally private, were so apposite and to-the-point that I really do need to reprise them here.

(Because the messages were private, I’ll paraphrase them somewhat, and also remove anything that might identify the respective writer, of course.)

Here’s the first of those two responses:

I see you’ve finally decided it’s impossible to change the world – well, at least the entrenched mindset of the IT Architect …

I found that the whole community is full of opinionated assholes all arguing that their point of view was the only one worth following; I too have moved on.

(Well, still with the same company, but now trying to do less of the preaching and more doing …)

Two of the phrases there really struck home for me:

— “full of opinionated assholes all arguing” – yes, and I became aware I was perhaps one of the worst of them… 😐 Which was a key reason why I needed to stop. And in any case the only person I can actually change – the only person over whom I have direct choices – is me: hence the only real change I can directly influence is in my own behaviours. Ouch… But necessary, too.

— “less of the preaching and more doing” – yes, and the best way to end the arguments is to have already done whatever it is that we’re arguing about. It became kinda clear to me that I was doing way too much ‘preaching’ and way too little out-there-in-the-real-world doing: hence an urgent need to shift my own way of working in the world. If anyone else happens to choose to follow what I’m doing, that’s great: but unless I am doing something, there’s nothing to actually follow in the first place, is there? Another ‘ouch’… – but again, kinda necessary for me to notice it. Which I now have.

Anyway, here’s the extract from that other person’s note:

I am rather relieved to see you posting on your blog and shaping your year, your directions and your priorities.  I was quite concerned if you were to withdraw rather than finding a way to re-engage.

As I said in the ‘Taking a break‘ post, I’m not actually withdrawing from enterprise-architecture as such. What I’m doing instead is withdrawing from all those pointless arguments about what EA ‘really is’ and suchlike.

After all, there are two ways I can take those arguments:

— Either I’m wrong, in which case there’s no point in arguing anyway. 😐

— Or I’m right, but people will perhaps take at least another five to ten years to get what it is that I’m saying – in which case, my pushing to get them to understand simply won’t help to get them there any faster, so again there’s no point anyway.

Hence best I just get back to what I’m best at doing, which is thinking about what tools need developing, and go ahead and develop them. If people don’t get it right now, too bad: just do the development as best I can anyway, with or without help. Publish the results, continue to get zero-income from it, survive somehow. Something like that.

The best way to fail to change the world is to argue about it.

The best way to change the world is just to get on and do it, one small step at a time.

Kinda obvious when framed like that, really. 🙂

Posted in Complexity / Structure, Enterprise architecture, Futures, Power and responsibility, Society, The Outsider Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
3 comments on “On (not) changing the world
  1. “One small step at a time.”

    Robert Fripp says, “We begin with the possible, and move gradually towards the impossible.”

    We move from one MVP to the next MVP.

    • Tom G says:

      “…from one MVP to the next MVP” – yes, exactly.

      Jack Martin Leith describes this well with his concept of change as ‘Now to New’. (There doesn’t seem to be any direct URL-link, unfortunately, but go to his page ‘Why these management concepts are not part of futuregen’ and scroll down to the section ‘Change is a journey’:

      “Instead of seeing change as a journey from here to there, we see it as a flip from Now (the current state of affairs) to New (the desired state of affairs, which we refer to as the desired present, not the desired future). Now is our present reality. New is our desired present reality.”

      I’ll admit that I don’t fully agree with Jack there, in that I do believe that some sense of ‘big-picture intent’ is useful as a lodestone, but he’s definitely right in that Now-to-New (rather than ‘Big Design Up Front’) is what we need at the point of action.

      So, if we’re to move “from one MVP to the next MVP”, what’s the first MVP we need to achieve? 🙂

  2. Stuart Boardman says:

    The only thing I can say to this post is “yes” – in capitals with exclamation marks. Please do this Tom. There may not be enough people who understand you but those of us that do, need this.

    Regarding Jack’s “now to new”, you might want to look at these blogs I wrote based on Jack’s ideas: http://blog.opengroup.org/2013/01/10/the-death-of-planning/ and http://blog.opengroup.org/2013/02/05/new-now-planning/ (in that order)

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