Several years ago I started my course with the Open University in Systems Thinking in Practice. At that time it was pretty much new, I was on the first cohort for the Systemic Inquiry module, and the second cohort for the Systems Tools for Strategic Thinking module. I understand that, several years later, the modules are a great success and in high demand. And rightly so.
I suspect that like a lot of my fellow students, I set off with zeal of a convert. I foresaw that I would be changing the lives of those around me with the new tools that I was learning about. Armed with the new insight that I was helping to reveal to everyone that I would be helping to drive things forward.
Instead, I learned to keep ST pretty much to myself, to use it quietly in the background. I had hoped that colleagues, dazzled by what I was able to reveal, would clamour to find out how I did it. From that point I could share what I had learned. Over time the world would become a significantly better place as we understood how to do the “right things”.
The course is well behind me now, and yes, I frequently use a lot of what I learned to help me in my daily life. I still add to my Systems Thinking armoury through my own efforts but my hope of sharing this stuff for the better remains unfulfilled.
Why is this?
Four years ago I was moved to write a post “Was the Terminator so wrong after all?” based on a Gartner analyst making statements about the state of computer capability to make decisions. At the time I expressed some concern about where our automation of decision capabilities could lead us, and I wondered whether the scenarios painted in the terminator films of machines overtaking man could become reality.
Elsewhere I also made a comment or two about Big Data, and the hype at that time about it being able to solve all of our problems. Well, the raging IT skeptic in me is pleased to say that the outlook is brighter, or dimmer depending upon you point of view, than I had anticipated at that time.
The big news crossing my field of interest is a paper published by Ted Schadler et al at Forrester, and Ted’s blog post: Digital Insights Are the New Currency of Business which I suggest turns out to be both good and bad news.
As a de-facto Enterprise Architect, a little bit of serendipity today left me feeling much better with the world.
It’s a fact of life that our modern world is awash with fads, and my working life in IT has been no exception, but the one thing about fads, whether they are IT, Management or any other fads, is that they tend to follow a similar sequence of steps each time:
- The fad enters the mainstream through the efforts of journalists who tell us why this is the “next great thing”
- This is rapidly followed by vendors telling us why they are the supplier of choice in this field
- Enter stage left the “Consultants” who have experience to bring the fad to your organisation with all it’s fantastic benefits that no-one can quite understand yet
- Our senior leaders then get worried as to why they are missing out on the fad, so commission a piece of work based on it
Worse still, every so often opposing factions appear trying to achieve the same marvellous end accompanied by media excesses telling us why one particular type of the current fad is far better than any of the others. Generally, in amongst the fad-meisters are a small core of pragmatists in the know, who try in vain to explain the truth behind the ballyhoo.
Thankfully, after a little while a new fad appears to displace the old one. Meanwhile the majority of us get on with quietly making whatever the previous fad was actually work, delivering realistic benefits, not the hyped conjecture.
Enterprise Architecture hits the streets promising that IT will deliver massive benefits to our organisations