Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Enterprise Architecture and Mental Masturbation

Pleasurable, but otherwise unproductive mental activity...

While perception management certainly falls into this category, enterprise architects need to spend time helping others move away from these forms of time consuming activities. Sometimes people use a tool, language, or technique because it has ideas that stimulate or entertain their mind. It might not be "better", but one likes it because of the stimulation or challenge it provides. One example may be a developer who insists on using Ruby on Rails because it is better in terms of productivity while ignoring the fact that there are better ways to achieve productivity that don't require changing the tool you use.

Mental masturbation isn't just something that happens at work. I frequently run across many IT professionals at Home Depot who will spend hundreds of hours for minor home repair rather than just pay a carpenter a couple of hundred bucks to fix it. Many of us, fix cars in our driveway, focus on home improvement and other mental masturbation tasks because we spend a lot of time at work on activities that don't provide release. Consider how long it takes to sell a strategy.

The notion of process maturity falls into this category as well. Do we really think that the notion of knowledge transfer especially in the context of Indian outsourcing has long-term value? Do we think that dumping all the work that we don't want to do on India is sustainable? When will we acknowledge that folks in India also aspire to something better and have their own versions of what they aspire to become. Sure, for most it is nothing but a dream, but where is the line where an activity becomes pointless from the point of return, but not from the pleasure it brings to folks?

I know that some folks will consider enterprisey thinking as a form of mutual mental masturbation where one encourages others to participate, but I prefer to use the term alignment...

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