2020 Hindsight (of course)

Exactly a year ago, on 31 December 2019, I wrote a post about ‘changes coming‘, for me and others too. It turned out to be wildly optimistic, of course: but then it’s always easier to achieve 20-20 vision in hindsight…

Much as it has been for so many others, 2020 has been somewhat of a lost year for me. Looking back at the ‘Changes coming’ blog-post, yes, we did launch the first book in the Change-mapping series – but then realised that we needed to get the second, more tools-oriented book out before we could push the marketing hard. Yes, I did update the Changes business-novel – but needed to put the print-edition on hold until I’d completed my move to Australia. And yes, I did make the move back to Australia, after more than a dozen years stuck in limbo in England – but courtesy of the pandemic, found myself straight back in limbo again on the day I arrived, and although the lockdowns have eased off a bit here now, it still hasn’t gotten that all much better since then.

Every part of my plans for the move back here were shredded: no conference, no meetups with colleagues, no travel, no nothing. I spent more than half the year living out of suitcases in a blur of AirBnBs. Even when I did eventually get to settle down somewhat, there’s been so much to sort out that I still haven’t managed to catch up – though a lot of the accumulated stresses from the past decade did catch up, which hasn’t helped. And being all-too-literally out of touch with most of my world hasn’t exactly helped, either. Oh well.

Still, I did manage to do some worthwhile work. For example, there’ve been about thirty blog-posts here, of which probably the most useful were the ones on building-blocks for business-architecture and the ten-part series on service and product, and the relationships between them:

Almost seventy new videos published: forty in the ‘Tetradian on Architectures’ playlist (though 23 of those were in the series on coronavirus and related lessons-learned for enterprise-architecture); twenty in the ‘Tools for Change’ series (including videos on how to use SCAN, SCORE, Enterprise Canvas and Holomap stakeholder-mapping); and seven in the new ‘Tetradian on Change’ playlist, about aspects of change that extend beyond the usual scope for enterprise-architecture.

Four more slidedecks up on Slideshare. And a whole bunch of other webinars and online-interviews for which I don’t have access to the recordings.

Maybe not a huge amount of visible work compared to some previous years, but not too bad when it’s been a year where I’ve been all but forced out of action for much of the time.

More important, perhaps, there’s been a lot more going on behind the scenes. The second Change-mapping book, co-authored with designer Joseph Chittenden, is already complete, and will be published within the next month or so. The long-term collaborations with the core support-team in Australia, Canada, Mexico and the US – Peter, Eric, Nate, Michael and a few others – are all coming together well, and should start to bear fruit as tangible products and services somewhen within the next few months. There’s also been a lot of regular idea-sharing with other longstanding colleagues variously scattered around the world – I won’t give names, but you know who you are, and thank you to all! – and again those exchanges are beginning to bear fruit too, if in less tangible ways.

Fiction is another area that I’ve worked on in the past, and want to develop still further over the next few years. For my NaNoWriMo project for this year, I even managed to write about half of another new novel in the sort-of-steampunk Viner Codex series. But it’s more than time that I started to publish some of the existing material in that series: there’s a sort-of complete blog-like narrative-novel that’s already about 50,000 words or so; a fully complete novel that’s ready to go; another one that’s perhaps only two to three chapters from completion, a whole host of smaller standalone pieces, and a lot of drawings, illustrations and storyworld-description – but the catch is that whilst it’s fair to claim that I’m good at being a ‘self-starter’, unfortunately what I’m not good at is being a strong ‘self-finisher’… And yeah, I need to remedy that flaw – not just in the work on fiction, but on everything else as well.

After the nightmare year that ends today, I won’t repeat last year’s mistake of making any fixed plans or predictions: doing so just hurts too much when everything falls apart. I do want to put my work in practice by travelling around in this country, for example, as in described in the ‘Enterprise-architecture in miniature‘ blog-series from the previous year – but with the pandemic still rumbling along, I have no idea if it will even be possible, or maybe ever at all. Perhaps what I most need to do is to get back to working on the Mythquake project, which I’ve been nibbling at for at least the past couple of decades: its purpose is to tackle the impacts and fallout that arise when flawed assumptions collide with Reality Department – which unquestionably is occurring ever more and more in our present-day context.

Anyway, I’d better stop there: it’s gone past dawn, the magpies are carolling away in the woods behind the house, and I must get back to more useful work. In the meantime, Happy Chaos all, and see you in the New Year!

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2 Comments on “2020 Hindsight (of course)

  1. Not wanting to re-initiate the product / service discussion, but i would have liked to have seen the promise linked to both product and service equally, not via service to product.

    Have a great New Year, and may it bring you everything you wish for yourself.

  2. Robert: “i would have liked to have seen the promise linked to both product and service equally, not via service to product” – actually, no, it doesn’t work that way. A product is always an output from a service (literally, ‘product’ as ‘pro-duct’, that which is ‘onward-lead’ from a service). And in the framing I’ve used in the series, service is active, whereas product is a static snapshot that only exists between services – or, more precisely, is only visible as ‘product’ if it’s perceived to be outside of any boundary currently drawn around clusters of action, aka ‘service’.

    All of which tells us that if we try to go straight from Promise to Product, what we’re actually doing is ignoring and/or rendering invisible the Service(s) that implement the promise, and from which the respective Product is an output. Which, if we want to have any choices about how to we get to the Product, is probably Not A Good Idea…?

    In short, it does only go from Promise to Service to Product – and there are very strong reasons why we need to see it that way.

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