Since the beginning of April, my primary mission has been to document the Reference Architecture specification, which will drive our business. One important lesson I learned in the past year, while observing the executives direct the organization, is to deliver simple messages. People need simple terms to remember complex chains of thought. That is why naming (branding) is so crucial to success. It is also a key to the success of any strategy.
The mission that I set myself to accomplish was to distill the myriad strategic messages handed down from executives into two simple messages. Then, to expand those messages into a technical architecture for executing on the strategy. As I was waiting for the bus today, I came to the realization that these two strategic messages are as applicable to ordinary life as they are to the success of our business. So I present them here.
Focus: Concentrate your investments on your core business. Understand your strengths and use them to your advantage; avoid over-extending yourself into endeavors that expose your weakness. Do what you are good at, and leave all other things to those, who are better at doing them. Compete to win; do not bother fighting battles that you cannot win. You have limited resources and time—invest them wisely. Don’t waste your time and money.
Agility: The pace of change is mind-boggling today, and it is accelerating. Prepare to adapt quickly to a changing environment. Designs that encapsulate variation will win out over those that entrench how we understand things today. Evolution weeds out those, who cannot adapt to change. Embrace agility or become extinct.
Focus and agility. These two words are worth about usd$130 million to us. You get them for free.
It’s amazing how we have the ability to look back in time. Not just in memories. Not just through archeology. These are only remnants of what actually existed in history. However, the laws of nature have bestowed upon us the ability to actually witness the past in its full glory. In fact, we can see right this moment if we look hard enough as far back as the moments following the Big Bang. And a second later, if we look 3*10^8m further into the distance, we can see exactly the same moment again.
Try to come to grips with the fact that everything you witness in the present has actually occurred some time in the past. Then extend the scope of your observations beyond your immediate vicinity. Look further out and deeper into history. Here and now you are able to see the past unfolding before you. It’s profoundly mind blowing.
Most of my life is spent communicating, despite the fact that I rarely say much. Ever since I read about epistemology and the theory of cognition, I’ve recognized the need to build conceptual models first and notations second. I continually yearn for a precise method of expressing ideas.
All around me, I see people misunderstanding each other. Communication is a shared responsibility. It requires a collaboration between the source and the target.
The source is responsible for organizing his conceptual model. He identifies the distinctive subset of the model that requires expression, and separates it from the remainder of the model that is the foundational context. He structures a presentation for the expression using a notation.
The target is responsible for comprehending the notation. He must decode the notation into the foundational context and distinctive subset of the model that is being expressed. Ideally he decodes exactly the same conceptual model that originated from the source. However, more often than not, the resulting model is different. Communication has failed to faithfully convey the meaning.
Modeling is my life’s work. I do it well. Unfortunately, I am unskilled in developing notations. I must settle on using the notations that others have handed down. For now, I will be misunderstood. And so will you.