When what you need most is the paddle…

Yeah, it’s been that kind of time. Trying to respond politely, professionally, as a whole-enterprise architect, to a seemingly-unending stream of people who just don’t get it. People who measure everything – including human life – in solely monetary terms. People who believe that machines are the only things that matter. People who think solely in the short-term. People who have no place in their vocabulary for words such as ‘compassion’, ‘trust’, ‘respect’ or ‘hope’.

Coping with that, day after day after day, it kinda wears away at the soul. Especially as the work itself requires us to have a very thin skin, in order to sense out what’s really going on in any given context. Maybe I need a different job. Or a different something

In that sense, perhaps I shouldn’t use that label of ‘whole-enterprise architect’? At least, not for the people who don’t understand either ‘enterprise’, or ‘architect’ – or even the word ‘whole’ whenever it literally means whole-as-whole.

Instead, I’d say I’m more someone who makes sensemaking possible for everyone, at every scope and scale, across every aspect of the enterprise, to guide the way towards greater effectiveness overall. That’s what whole-enterprise architecture is, really. Mostly about the human world, to be honest – much more so than the technical world, anyway.

But even that still doesn’t seem to make sense to some people, either. Oh well.

So perhaps a simpler metaphor, if a somewhat coarser one: When you find yourself heading up Sh*t Creek without a paddle, I’m the guy who can make sure that there’s a self-assembling paddle, right there in your conceptual-toolkit, to help you make sense of the mess you’re in, and steer a new way out of the sh*t.

I can’t do much about the state of your canoe.

I can’t do much about the navigational choices that got you that far up the creek.

I can’t do much about the carelessness that caused you to lose it.

But I can do something about the paddle.

Get in touch if you want to know more, perhaps?

[Update, 07 June 2016]

This was originally posted on LinkedIn as ‘When what you need most is the paddle…‘ on 05 June 2016.

Shortly after I’d published it, healthcare enterprise-architect Raechel Wright came back with a perfectly-reasonable request:

— “Describe for us, Tom, how you do that, find or invent the paddle. If you can’t, tell us what your favorite book is.”

So yeah, I thought I’d rise to the challenge, with some solid detail, about sources at least. What follows is my LinkedIn reply to Raechel, slightly edited to clean up the links, which LinkedIn-comments don’t support:

For one starting-point, see the series of posts here on whole-enterprise architecture, starting at ‘Towards a whole-enterprise architecture standard – 1: Introduction‘ . (They’re also on LinkedIn, with many more comments, starting at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/towards-whole-enterprise-architecture-standard-1-tom-graves.)

Take a wander here through this weblog: more than 1200 articles now, with a vast amount of detail of both theory and practice spanning almost a decade. For example, perhaps use as a starting-point the post ‘What I do, and why‘. And maybe take a wander through my set of slidedecks on Slideshare: more than 40 of them to date.

Perhaps try some of the regular ‘anti-keynotes’ from the annual defence-oriented Integrated EA Conference, such as ‘The dung-beetle’s tale‘, on complexity; or ‘Disintegrated-EA‘, on factors that cause disintegration of an architecture, and what to do about (some of) them. Or try ‘Backbone and edge‘, on how to not make the same mistakes as Gartner’s beloved ‘Bimodal IT’ – which also predates Gartner by a couple of years.

Maybe even take a wander through some of my now eleven books on whole-enterprise architecture: more details on physical books at http://tetradianbooks.com , or ebooks at https://leanpub.com/u/tetradian .

As of next month, I’ll be starting a new series of masterclasses on how to do this, initially in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. Later this year there’ll be a new book that covers how all of this links together, for and across any and every aspect of any type of enterprise, at any level, scope or scale. A supporting app is in the pipeline, though probably not until next year.

In short, there’s quite a lot that exists already, and a lot more on the way. 🙂

Oh, and a favourite book? WIB Beveridge’s 1950s classic ‘The Art Of Scientific Investigation’ – fully-legal free download in various formats at Archive.org . The Introduction begins:

“Elaborate apparatus plays an important part in the science of today, but I sometimes wonder if we are not inclined to forget that the most important instrument in research must always be the mind of [the researcher]. It is true that much time and effort is devoted to training and equipping the scientist’s mind, but little attention is paid to the technicalities of making the best use of it.”

Those “technicalities of making the best use of [the mind]” are what I mean by ‘the paddle’.

Leave a Reply

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