Saturday 29 May 2010

A Parable of Integration

Integration. That which connects, binds, bonds: businesses, people, machines, and networks. One of my great passions, and my main work passion. I really, really, absolutely love to work in the field of Integration

In a Twitter conversation with Wayne Horkan yesterday, I was once again inspired to write a blog post simply because one or two tweets wouldn't do it.
So, this is it. Enjoy, and if you don't, please also comment

Imagine you live in town A. Fantasize that you want to travel to village B. Now what?
  • Do you go by water, land or air? If by water, you can also cross the seas. When by land, do you build bridges across the water, or find your way around, or both?
  • Let's say you go by land: is that highlands, lowlands? Are you going to travel backroads, highways, go sightseeing? Do you directly want to take the highway?
  • In the future, what would a good choice be? Will the highway network suffice, or is it good enough to use the Interstate and use water or air for the special stuff? Are you sure?
  • What vehicles are you going to use? Are you going to buy them, rent them, make them yourself? Are they going to be bicycles, cars, trucks, or is it going to be like Planes, trains and automobiles?
  • What cargo are you going to ship? Letters, packages, crates, pallets, containers?
  • Who are you going to ship it to? Are they going to sell it to other people? Where are those located? 
  • How fast do you need to ship all that? When and where? Oh boy!
This is the usual line of reasoning people go by. People? People from IT, yes. Business people go the other way around. They don't have this systemic approach to breaking down a presumed problem in pieces.
I'm just saying, the usual approach is wrong. That's why we have CIO's saying that we need to do SOA which means XML and SOAP and oh yeah, WSDL too - because "we need to be interoperable"

Say what? CIO's who say that are 100% clueless - feel free to quote me on that

This is why I get questions like: what's a good open source ESB? Which is the same as asking "What is a good airport control tower" or "Which harbour is really great for me" or "Which Interstate should I take best"
Impossible questions, or useless answers: take your pick

This is how it should be though: imagine you're on holiday in a foreign country. You're with your travel troop, see a butterfly fly by, focus on it... and suddenly realise you're all alone
  • Where am I?
  • Where should I go to?
  • Must I swim, walk, climb?
  • And what about my suitcase?
  • Who will be there when I get there?
  • OMG maybe I should just dive into the ocean?!
  • AAAAAaaaaahhhheeeeehhhh!!!!!
Enough drama. I hope you get the picture: subjectivity is King. Human, pragmatic, usable subjectivity will lead you to your goals. If you stay in them too long, then they'll cloud your vision. But they pose the right questions. And you shouldn't bite the next bullet before you've answered that very question really well

5 reacties:

Paula Thornton said...

Can we put that to music and make it memorable?

Patrick Brinksma said...

"CIO's who say that are 100% clueless - feel free to quote me on that"

Exactly what our Dutch saying expresses: "Hij heeft de klok wel horen luiden maar weet niet waar de klepel hangt."

Literal Translation: “He did hear the sound of the bell, but doesn’t know where the clapper hangs.”

Meaning: “He thinks he knows the subject, but the essence eludes him.”

It's an ever returning phenomenon where people, both IT and Business, are focused on the How when they never actually answered the Why and What questions. And when you do eventually come to the How, always keep the Why and What in mind.

The How should always be in function of the Why and What. It amazes me how many experienced people still walk into this self-sabotage trap. Endless discussion about the How. And when you ask them about the Why and What they stare at you with emptiness in their eyes...

Martijn Linssen said...

Thanks Paula and Patrick. Great summary Patrick: it's the Why and What first, then the How

Maybe that's the problem with IT on this topic: SOA, BPM, interoperability: that's all about business, processes and semantics - not the core topics for techies. They don't know the What, can second-guess the Why (that's where the interoperability jumps in) and can then jump-conclusion to the How

Marvellous. Thanks again!

aarontempler said...

Fun post Martijn. I read it as much about strategy vs. tactics as integration. It matters not two wits that you're on a train if it's heading in the wrong direction.

Martijn Linssen said...

Thank you Aaron! Loved your post on - a great piece on strategy, tactics and focus. Connectivity seems to be slowly becoming an end result for people, and to that regard I'm in the goal-bashing business so to say...

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