7 years, 8 months ago

House and home

Link: http://weblog.tetradian.com/2012/10/20/house-and-home/

A great one-liner by enterprise-architect Jon Ayre:

RT @EnterprisingA: Comparing #itarch with #entarch is like comparing your cooker with your house. Your cooker helps you to eat but your house is where you live

It reminds me of the key tag-line of the 1997 Australian comedy-film ‘The Castle‘:

You can buy a house, but you can’t buy a home.

To me, that distinction between house and home is the core of the difference between EITA and whole-enterprise EA – or, for that matter, between organisation and enterprise.

A house is a ‘thing’, an assemblage of means – and on its own, ‘an empty thunder, signifying nothing’.

A home is… something else… – a ‘something-between‘ that uses the ‘things’ of the house, or coalesces around or through the ‘things’ of the house, yet in itself is not of the house. Not so much signifying something-or-other, as that it is significance – the ‘not-stuff’ from which significance itself is made.

There’s good reason and much human experience behind that old tag-line about ‘home is where the heart is’. The same is true of enterprise: an organisation is the metaphoric place – the assemblage of means – through which we do business, but the enterprise is why we would want to do business there.

To link back to Jon’s line above, it’s kinda sad when people mistake a house for a home, yet even more sad when they purport that one single item such as the cooker is ‘the home’. In tradition, the hearth is the centre around which the activities of house and home revolve; and in that sense, yes, IT might well now seem to be ‘the centre’ around which the activities of organisation and enterprise revolve. Yet don’t ever mistake the hearth for the home itself, or mistake the IT for the enterprise – because that’s what drives the heart out from the story.

Enterprise is the organisation’s heart, its soul: it’s what ‘to be enterprising’ is, it’s what gets people going in the morning and keeps them going through the day, it’s what drives ‘the business of the business’ – whatever that business might be. Yet on its own, an organisation is literally an ‘enterprise’ with no heart, no soul: an empty shell, a dead shell – or, worse, an ‘undead’ shell… :-) There are real dangers there if we ever get this one wrong…

A cooker is not a house; a house is not a home. The organisation and its IT may provide the means for enterprise, yet it’s not what the enterprise is, or means – so don’t mix them up!