Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Imitation is not strategy...

Having read the Cluetrain Manifesto on several occasions, I started thinking about how other enterprises think of strategy and have concluded that imitation is not strategy...

The Cluetrain Manifesto suggests that marketplaces are conversations yet many enterprise architects never actually have one. Instead they outsource their conversations to industry analysts who "distill" down information to serene four-color chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint presentations that lack substance. Enterprise architects takes this presentations, so-called research, etc and bring them to meetings where they are further used to shut down meaningful conversation that may occur. The best that can emerge from this practice is that an enterprise can imitate what others have done while ending up with something that is no better than what others before them have accomplished.

It is interesting to see how many enterprise architects I have ran across who have no real ability than to imitate others. You will usually run across many of them at industry conferences. They are passionate about sucking knowledge from others but don't have enough depth to innovate on their own. Many architects are one idea types who have already blown their load earlier in their career and somehow have justified their existence in facilitating conversations of others. Facilitation is also not a strategy but participation can be...

Respected analyst, James Governor of RedMonk mentioned in a past blog entry on the importance of Redmonk hiring analysts who blog. Maybe enterprises should consider adopting a similar strategy.

Having grown up in the hip-hop culture and in my early days listening to Wu-Tang, I remember an earlier video that featured Mariah Carey and O'l Dirty Bastard and wonder if this what enterprise architecture is about. In the video, Mariah who is gorgeous is seen somewhere in Beverly Hills on the very high end of the fashion chain. Likewise, O'l Dirty Bastard is in some slum in the Bronx and looks homeless. Some architect put otherwise two polar opposites together and made it work.

I wonder if I have contributed to the problem of other enterprises by blogging? Maybe the best strategy for other enterprises are to read my blog as well as the blogs of others in Fortune enterprises such as
Scott Mark, Charles Betz, James Tarbell and Robert McIlree who choose not to imitate but to focus on original value-added thinking.

I have never really landed on the elevator pitch as to why I blog but think I am getting closer to the answer. Borrowing a thought from John Seely Brown, I think I am Chief of Confusion, helping people ask the right questions, trying to make a difference through my work- speaking, writing, teaching.

Other enterprise architects at least have acknowledged the importance of education but still seem to commit fatal sins by attempting to turn education into training. The practice of corporate training is important but what is more important is in encouraging rich participation with partners in other parts of the organization, customers and even competitors who are at the edge.

Maybe they should ask themselves one and only one question: How do you learn as much from a partner as you learn from creating something yourself?

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