More on not-retiring

This one’s a follow-up on my previous post, from a month ago now, ‘On not retiring‘.

What I said back there was that, yeah, fairly obviously, people like me (and you too, I presume) don’t ever really retire – we just shift to a somewhat different way of working.

And for me, that ‘new way of working’ would most likely be summarised under three distinct themes:

  • skills, and skills-education – how people learn awareness, judgment and responsibility/response-ability
  • sensemaking and decision-making – all of those tools and visual-checklists that I’ve built up over the previous years
  • big-picture change – in particular, what’s needed to face up to the changes needed for genuine sustainability

Which, in effect, merge together into one unified theme:

  • helping people to develop the skills in sensemaking and decision-making for big-picture change

Yet before I can turn fully to that, I really do need to clean up everything that’s gone on before, to make it more available and in a more usable form. And yeah, I’s gotta face up to the fact that I’ve done, uh, kind of a lot of stuff since when I last looked like this:

Just to list a few examples:

  • trainee pilot
  • photographer
  • medical illustrator
  • researcher on skills-development
  • adult-education lecturer
  • published book-author
  • art-college lecturer
  • small-business entrepreneur
  • typesetter / designer
  • software-developer
  • technical-writer

And that’s just where I’d gotten to by only halfway between there and here, or then and now…- there’s been a lot more since that midway-point!

So yes, a lot of tidying-up to do. Which I need to do in context of that theme above: helping people to develop the skills in sensemaking and decision-making for big-picture change.

What I know I have on the slate to do right now could be summarised as follows:

— Make the weblog more accessible. On one side, publish much more of it in ebook format, so that people can have appropriate sets of articles offline. On the other, construct a proper knowledge-base from it – and probably include the books in some way into that knowledge-base too.

— Make the toolkit more accessible. The set of tools that I’ve developed so far for enterprise-architecture and beyond so far includes, among others:

…and so on. All of which need to be adapted to course-materials, worksheets, templates, spreadsheets, metamodels for EA-toolsets, and much, much more.

Make the tools available in software form. By that I mean:

There’s, uh, quite a lot of work implied in that – and I’m not the right person to do it. (I do know some of my limitations…) But I probably should be involved in setting up and helping to keep it on track.

— Complete and/or write anew various non-fiction books. The ones I have on the slate right now, together with an estimate of their current status, would include:

  • The SCAN Sketchbook – step-by-step one-idea-per-page intro to the SCAN sensemaking decision-making framework [about 20% complete]
  • The Enterprise Canvas Sketchbook – step-by-step one-idea-per-page intro to the Enterprise Canvas service-modelling framework [only just started]
  • no title yet: a general approach to transformation, starting from the holomap stakeholder-mapping framework [text not started: initial planning only]
  • no title yet: a general approach to transformation and whole-enterprise architecture, starting from the Five Element architecture-development method [text not started: initial planning only]
  • Making Sense – a general-audience book on developing the practice of sensemaking as a learned-skill, starting from the SMDA loop and expanding to tools for transformation [text not started: initial planning only]

— Complete and/or write anew various fiction books. This is a theme I’ve played with somewhat over the years, but that I’d like to develop further – not least because it seems likely that many people will only ‘get’ some of the ideas and practices that I’m describing if they’re presented in fictional form. The only ones that are on the slate right now, with their current status, are:

  • The end of certainty – a kind of ‘business thriller’ that also embeds a practical introduction to Five Element as a change-framework [about 50% complete]
  • Knotwork – a transmedia adventure-series placed within a ‘steampunk‘ / alternate-history-type genre, that also embeds many of the RBPEA (Really-Big-Picture Enterprise-Architecture) themes [currently in ‘world-building’ / plot-design phase]

So, given that list, let’s do some rough estimates of how long all of that would take to complete:

  • knowledge-base: 6 months minimum
  • tools-adaptations: probably 2-3 months per tool
  • standalone-apps: base=framework setup 3-6 months, then 2-3 months per app
  • full EA-toolset: minimum 3 months to MVP, probably minimum 12 months to full 1.0 version
  • non-fiction books: 3-6 months each
  • fiction-books: variable, 3-12 months each

Which adds up to around 5-10 years at least.

And that’s assuming I don’t get distracted off onto anything else in the meantime such as conferences and consultancy and suchlike, which I’d probably need to do in order to keep making a living whilst I’m doing all of that lot. Which probably doubles the total time to more like 10-20 years.

That also assumes I don’t add anything new at all in all of that time, either.

Yet let’s be blunt and somewhat bleak about this: at my age, there’s a fairly low chance that I’ll live long enough to complete it all.

Which means that – to again be blunt – I need to assign some priorities here. About which, as an otherwise master of procrastination and other suchlike faults, I really do need some help…

So, given those lists above, and if you find my work useful:

Which would be the most important items for you? (And why, perhaps?)

Which items should I finish first? Which next? and so on

— If they’re items that I can’t finish on my own – the knowledge-base and the apps, for example – who would you suggest to help me bring them to completion?

Over to you for your advice and suggestions, if you would? – and many thanks for all your help so far.

9 Comments on “More on not-retiring

  1. Great pic! Id prioritize the non fiction books. Some of the other stuff will be completed w the books. Add ti the list an online education training on the really big change.

    • Many thanks, Pat. You’re right about the online training-course – which would add another 1-2 years just in itself… I tried it once: I got about 10% the way through after two months of very hard work, and it still didn’t make sense. The hard part is find the right balance between overly-abstract (good general principles and not enough about how to apply them in practice) versus overly-concrete (specific narrow application – e.g. as per TOGAF 7 – with general principles to connect it to anything else). I’m still a long way from finding that balance-point yet, in fact I’m increasingly doubting that I’m the right person to do it. Oh well.

  2. Hi Tom,

    IMHO you have such level of knowledge that you should focus on sharing in a way that provide you a living: teaching!

    I do think that focusing on books and training material would be perfect for that goal. And if you’re ok to travel a little, Paris is opened to you 😉

    Maybe the only challeng in this would be to find the right ballance between your vision and what people can understand (and do) with it. It might be needed in some cases to reframe your ideas in a more pracitical way for typical Enterprise (IT) Architects.

    I hope to discuss this soon with you…


    • Many thanks for this, JB – and yes, you’re right about training etc, exactly as Pat says above. The catch is exactly as you say: “find the right balance between your vision and what people can understand (and do) with it” – because as I said to Pat above, I’m in increasing doubt as to whether I’m the right person to find that balance. (Being one of the world’s worst self-marketers doesn’t help, either… 🙁 )

      If we may, I’d very much like to talk with you about this when we meet later in this month. In the meantime, let’s keep in touch about this?

  3. I wouldn’t diminish the value and impact of the fiction books. I look at the impact The Goal has had in process/quality fields, and The Phoenix Project has had in getting peoples attention for IT/Ops transformations. Something on par on that in the EA realm could have a significant, legacy defining impact.

    • Thanks for the vote of support on this, Jeremy! To be honest, it’s where my heart probably resides most at the moment, and the only one that seems to get people outside of ‘the trade’ fired up and excited – which would be a huge plus all round, if I can get it to work. Which is the tricky part, of course…

      More on this soon, anyway – Watch This Space, perhaps?

  4. Well, this presents an interesting architectural challenge! One where the world will change radically over the period you forecast your activities to require!

    So I would do what architects do – identify, describe and elaborate on:

    a) core patterns which deliver the greatest value
    b) key gaps that others are not addressing

    • Very good points about ‘eating my own dogfood’, Peter – and yeah, I need to rise to your challenge on that. Will do so in the next post, a quick status report on this – in fact I need to use those two “identify, describe and elaborate on” themes as the core for the post. Thanks for that! (I think… 😉 )

  5. A quick read of those four comments above, and the others on the LinkedIn cross-post, indicates not only yet another theme that I’d largely missed – the need for standalone training-materials and training-course – but an almost perfect balance of suggested priorities. Which, as you’ll note, leaves me almost exactly where I started – i.e. going round in circles, trying to do everything all at once, with the result that I’m getting almost nothing done… 🙁 Oh well. I’ll do a quick status-report on this in the next couple of days, to summarise where I think (hope?) I can get some traction on this. Thanks again everyone, anyway.

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