The bucket-list – a clarification

I need to do a follow-on to my previous post ‘The bucket-list‘, to add a few clarifications.

It’s not that I’m doing an “I’m taking my bat and ball and going home so there”.

It isn’t even about the money – though the lack of being paid more than a tiny pittance at best for so darn long definitely does hurt.

It’s that I’m burned-out.

If you know what burn-out is like, then you’ll know what I’m going through right now.

If you haven’t been through burn-out yourself, let’s just say I wouldn’t recommend it, ‘cos it ain’t fun. In normal times I’m not far short of a workaholic, yet for the last three-four months or so I’ve been running at around 20% of my normal productivity at best. For anything. And worrying, worrying all the time that I haven’t been able to do what I ‘should’.

That’s why I can’t do this any more.

It’s also why I’m probably not up to doing much mainstream consultancy or anything like that at the present, either.

This is actually the fourth time in forty years that I’ve been through burn-out. Four different disciplines now that I’ve rebuilt or renewed, pretty much from scratch, against huge opposition every time, with huge value for large numbers of others at the end, but with burn-out for me instead. I won’t go through them all, but the second, back in ’86, was after spending eight years working flat-out building the precursor to desktop-publishing, from scratch – including writing all the software myself – only to be ripped-off and then flattened by all the big-boys as soon as they realised that all the hard work had been done and there was now serious money to made. (Yep, that was someone else making millions out of my work, with nowt but the smallest crumbs coming my way. Again. Common experience for any pioneer, of course.)

But at least this time there’s no need to throw anything away. At the moment the books and websites and the rest are all (just about) self-financing. Don’t worry: nothing’s going to get lost. Not yet, anyway.

What the bucket-list does mean is that right now I can’t do any further development on any of what’s in that list. Sitting in the bucket right now is probably the only (near)-complete set of tools – visual-checklists and all that – that, in broad-stroke terms at least, cover the entire scope of an enterprise, at every scale, in a fully-integrated, fully-consistent way. That’s worth saving – not least because it or something like it is going to be really needed as the whole mainstream ‘possessionist’ economic-model comes apart at the seams. Which it will do within the next few decades at most. (Because if it doesn’t, we’re dead. All of us.)

But I’m not the person to take it to that next stage. It needs someone with a different mindset than mine, much more practical, a better instructional-designer, a better graphic-designer, not least a better marketer than I am.

That’s what I mean when I say I need concrete support to make it happen. It’s not (much) about money. It’s about how we work collectively to develop the tools and more that we need for the kind of whole-enterprise architectures that will become essential Real Soon Now, and on which some of us have been working for quite some while already.

There is no nice shiny grandiose association or standards-body that will do this for us. Forget the Open Group, for example – by the terms of their charter, they cannot think any wider than a specific subset of IT, and that’s fine as it is (though it would help all of us if they’d just stop pretending that what they ‘sell’ is enterprise-architecture, because it isn’t…). Ditto OMG; ditto BizBOK; ditto just about every other standards-body, really. If it’s going to happen, the EA community needs to get together as a community, and make it happen, for everyone here. It’s our responsibility – no-one else’s.

I say ‘our’ there, but in practice, I won’t be able to contribute much for quite a while. If my recovery from this burn-out goes as well as the previous ones did – and to be blunt, I’d be lucky there – then it’ll still take several months even at best before I’m properly back up to speed again.

If and when I do recover, I’ll need to move the whole thing up a notch anyway, to the scope and scale of the full RBPEA (‘Really-Big-Picture Enterprise-Architecture’). Most of what’s happening at the mainstream EA level is pretty straightforward now; at the RBPEA scale, it is not straightforward – and again, what’s in that bucket-list is some of what will be most needed out at that level. But I’m nowhere near ready to come back to that as yet.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep (somewhat) sane by shifting my focus more towards fiction. With an EA or RBPEA slant, of course, but fiction nonetheless. One book pretty much complete now, and quite a lot (some 200 pages) also done so far on a much larger project that’s already gaining quite a lot of interest. For your possible amusement, and as a small taster of what’ll be coming up soon from me in that direction, here’s a crop from a much larger sketch-illustration by my nephew Joseph Chittenden, for a standalone section from that project, called ‘The Frenchman’s Journal’:

Think of it as therapy if you like – but, compared to EA, at least writing fiction is a lot more fun.

7 Comments on “The bucket-list – a clarification

  1. Hi Tom:

    I’m really sorry to hear this. I, of course, have benefited from what I have read of your work and have a great deal of respect for the passion and dedication it has obviously taken to do it.

    I am working with an extremely brilliant guy to try and get a company off the ground. We are going to build a practice focused on EA and Innovation management, augmented by an Enterprise Catalogue of reusable architectures and components to accelerate implementation. We will be enlisting people to submit artifacts (which we will call Archifacts) to be made available to our clients. Ultimately the work submitted for sale by Archemists should lead to billable implementation consulting gigs for them.

    Is there anything of yours that might make sense in this context? I would be more than happy to talk with you about what we’re doing and see if there is something that can work out for both of us.

    Please feel free to contact me through LinkedIn or use the contact info on my profile to contact me directly. If there is anything else I can do that would be helpful, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Best regards and wishes for whatever comes next,


  2. Hi Tom

    The circumstances you speak of are yet another indication of a sorely needed shift in priority on a global scale. It seems at the moment more and more people are operating in an inwardly mechanical, money-centric trance, ceaselessly reacting to an endless torrent of “accidental shocks”. Just the other day i read a comment authored some years ago which compared the way a human should behave as the driver of a car deciding on a destination and directing the vehicles trajectory. The way humans are behaving was then compared to a dilapidated taxi, with the driver picking up anyone who hails them.

    I was recently working on the MetaCapital project in attempts to integrate models that allow us to to bring value economics into focus.

    I bought a couple of your books on EA last year as well as downloaded a few presentations from your Slideshare profile. I would like to try and draw some parallels between various systems as i believe your work could be invaluable applied beyond the scope of EA as part of a solid foundation for human and societal development as the present situation of the world would greatly benefit at this moment.

    The leading edge appears to have stagnated and rolled back on itself due to a notable absence of context and shared meaning. In short, I suspect the predicament would benefit from a grounded sense of purpose. My present efforts have involved attempts to differentiate Universal, General, Particular and Unique in the context of the reliability of a contruct toward useful and effective praxis etc.

    I am at present setting up social enterprise structures and self-organising systems where i want to try and introduce education diffusion and project opportunities for communities etc.

    Based on the nature of the body of work you have put together, I feel it can be universally applied and would like to discuss how I can perhaps contribute toward the completion of some of the items on your bucket list. I am all too familiar with the burn-out you describe so it is a useful time for others to support the development of important work.


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