Friday, January 27, 2006


Enterprise Architecture and Patriotism

Several days ago, A fellow architect and I were walking on our way to work and I noticed that he had a faded yellow ribbon on his car. I commented on the fact that since it was faded, he obviously wasn't displaying the ribbon in support of our troops as a fashion statement and truly believed we must not only passively show our true colors but encourage others to do the same...

In this conversation, he mentioned that he served in the National Guard for six years. I myself, served in the United States Coast Guard. Later in the day, we happened to bump into each other again along with another architect named James and started talking about agility whom happened to serve in the Marine Corp. It kinda dawned on us that a pattern started to emerge. There is a high affinity to architects who believe in Strong Technical Leadership to also be prior military.

We start to reflect on our past jobs and think about all of the wonderful experiences we had working with others in the past and realized they were the types to also have an affinity to the military. Likewise, we also realized that those who went into project management were less likely to have a military background. I guess part of the rationale behind this is that the one thing the military doesn't teach is how to gain buyin.

On many enterprise projects, a project manager will rally the troops and attempt to gain consensus. On the battlefield, if you are a private you simply put your trust in the Sargeant as you know the mission will be successful. You know in your heart and soul that you can trust your Sargeant because he has been in truly life or death situations in the past and has emerged multiple times successfully. Likewise, a soldier goes into battle knowing that he will never be left behind and that every single member of the team has his back. The soldier knows that unless he violates the code of conduct, the sargeant won't be sabotaging him to commanders higher up and if the sargeant did such a thing, the sargeant would be the one to receive the full force and wisdom of leadership.

I wonder in the age of diversity and inclusion, we have conversations around gender, race, religion, nationality and sexual preference but never around military experiences. Folks with prior military experiences obviously think differently. After all, having enough resolve to go into battle knowing that you may never come back is real. In the Coast Guard, I remember being in basic training in Cape May, NJ reciting the general orders while inhaling tear gas. I remember the feeling of what it feels like to be close to drowning. I remember taking aim at a target with my rifle and not just envisioning it as a piece of paper but as another person that may be attempting to cause harm to me and how I not only had to think about stopping their actions but had to be swift and deliberate and enter the frame of mind to utterly destroy them.

The military changes everyone it touches. There is no such thing as an Ex-Marine or Ex-Coast Guard. It is always with you. We are now in a world where this type of thinking is no longer appreciated. Folks with military experience are less and less rising the corporate ladder to the detriment of us all. I wonder if the value systems of America mirror the value systems of the enterprise? I wonder if folks have truly figured out why enterprise architecture is noble but has only delivered mediocrity? I wonder if it is already too late.

If you happen to be an industry analyst or CTO of a startup and come across these words and have prior military experience. Please leave a comment. I hope I am not alone in the wilderness and have been abandoned...

On the way home, I drove a grocery store to pick up some ethnic items where folks who arrived here on H1B Visas frequent. Noticed that there is no sense that they even have a minute amount of responsibility or consideration towards supporting our troops. I engaged in a passionate conversation with one individual who was talking about tragedy in their country of India and how they supported charity there. I asked he felt it was worthy of him to contribute a tiny amount to charities that benefit people here such as the wifes of the troops as they are what makes America a place where you can work and send monies there. No response...

Don't get it twisted, as I am not interested in forcing my value system upon others. I do though, would like to see folks who arrive from other countries to not think so insular and expand their horizon of thinking. I think that my fellow architect also caused me to take a pause for a minute to think about what is really important. Hopefully, I can figure out better ways to support our troops. In thinking about this, I realized that I have never even talked with my children about the importance of this issue. Anway, If you are foreign-born, please click this link and consider donating a couple of bucks to the Books for Soldiers campaign.

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