As my kids start growing up (in a hurry!), one of the things that amazes me is how well kids can deal with complex situations such as learning to speak, learning to walk, jump, and ride a bike, or how to interact with others. Even more, kids seem remarkably resilient in dealing with changes and manage to find ways to adapt to new situations. Of course there are exceptions; we all know the kid who crawls in a corner and hides in the face of change. Generally speaking, this does not seem to be the case though. Having kids of 2 and (almost) 6, it is amazing to see how easily the youngest seems to wrap everyone around his little finger, and how well adjusted the oldest is already when interacting with adults. Well, most of the time. And it gets better over time.
Upon closer examination I have learned that the same applies to the inverse situation: I noticed that (my) kids also seem to be able to change / influence their environment when new and interesting possibilities present themselves. For example, when one of my kids found a large box of approximately the size of the DUPLO-house he wanted to build he quickly managed to get rid of its contents and use the box for its own purpose. Good to see that he used the opportunity; but not so good for what was in the box… Also, changes in the setup of our furniture are immediately used for new games (hide and seek) and so on. It’s also fun to see when they deliberately seem to steer conversations in a direction and thus create opportunities for themselves. Interesting, and challenging.
One of the first times I noticed a “smart move” with respect to changing things had to do with building some structure. Big wooden blocks were stacked on top of each other the form something that seemed like a random pile to me, but definitely had meaning for my kids. Due to the way the pile was ‘built’, though, changing it turned out to be a challenge. Basically it boiled down to un-piling the blocks and re-piling them to form a structure better suited for the game at hand. One point for the good guys.
Most of the challenges so far have been technical / design challenges. These may be difficult, but they can also be learned. For example, my youngest son has learned to ask for my help when he has stuffed a toy in some other toy and can’t get it out again. Another characteristic of this type of problem is that it is usually possible to recreate the starting conditions. For example, a tree house can be un-built and the materials reused etcetera.
The above stories are based on real situations that I’ve seen. Things like this happen around us every day. However, in many cases the “kids” were enterprise architects. The projects didn’t involve building tree houses or train structures, but involved complex IT systems or projects which involved introducing a new way of working and thinking in large organizations.
From what I have seen, most enterprise architects have an engineering frame of mind. Most architects are good at engineering / designing / architecting large complex structures. In other words, it seems that technical complexity is not so much the issue. Social complexity is, at least in our field of work, harder to manage especially since most projects related to enterprise architecture tend to have both high technical complexity and social complexity. Not an easy combination to manage!