If I Could Be Anyone(s)

So someone asked me a very deep personal question.

“If you had $20 million dollars and could do whatever you want (be whoever you want), what would that be?”

I was on the spot a little and didn’t have time to introspect the way I like to do, and I gave an answer that I really wasn’t happy with…and it’s been bothering me since. 

So sitting down now and really thinking about who I want to be–this is my real answer:

As a composite person, I want to have the:

– Lovingkindness of Mother Teresa

– Serenity of the Dalai Lama

– Spirituality of Moses

– Determination of Rocky

– Leadership of Rick Grimes

– Strength of Samson

– Agility of Bruce Lee

– Intellect of Sigmund Freud

– Understanding of Albert Einstein

– Ingenuity of Steve Jobs

– Inquisitiveness of Capt. James T. Kirk

– Bravery of those martyred in the Holocaust

– Heroism of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu

– Beauty of my wife and daughters

– The integrity of my dear father, Fred Blumenthal

What would I want to do–just simple things like:

– Cure Cancer, Parkinsons, ALS, etc.

– Eliminate poverty

– Herald in world peace

– Help/comfort those that are hurt and suffering

– Make people smile/happy

– Be a good person with integrity in all situations

I could probably go on and on, but generally this is what life means to me. 

Maybe today, I ain’t the smartest or fastest or strongest, but I have dreams, hopes, and aspirations. 

If that isn’t good enough, well at least I have a heart and a soul. 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Psychotherapy, In The Beginning

Wow, I love this early photo of psychotherapy.

The girl is lying on some pillows on 2 chairs. 

The Freudian doctor leans over the girl and is yanking on his goatee listening intently…and analyzing!

A man, that I assume is the girls dad is in the background, hovering protectively and hoping she is feeling better soon. 

The mind, like the body, unfortunately can get sick. 

And we need to take care of ourselves and seek help to get better. 

Fear not the competent doctor who really cares and sincerely wants to help (and is not just in it as a pure business).

Pray that G-d guides him to heal you and give you strength in body and peace of mind. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Dreaming and Enterprise Architecture


Planning for the target architecture of an enterprise is a difficult task; some would compare it to looking into a crystal ball and trying to divine the future of an organization and the marketplace. The funny thing is that some of the best planning and thinking that people do may actually not be when they’re awake and cognizant, but rather when they’re sleeping!

“Dreams are the images, thoughts and feelings experienced while asleep, particularly strongly associated with rapid eye movement sleep. The contents and purpose of dreams are poorly understood, though they have been a topic of speculation and interest throughout recorded history.” (Wikipedia)

The Wall Street Journal, 15 January 2008, reports that dreaming can be useful to making connections in your mind that you might otherwise never make.

“There is a growing body of research that indicates that sleep is a time when we can figure out patterns beyond our grasp during the day…during sleep, the brain engages in processing that explores connections and ideas in trial-and-error fashion.”

Not only are new connections made in the subconscious while sleeping, but dreams may actually be a wake-up call to the person. “Your dreams may be useful to you simply as reminders that you need to address certain issues sooner than their placement at the bottom of your to-do-list would suggest… ‘my subconscious is kicking me in the rear end,’ as one marketer puts it.”

Another researcher states that “dreams are like Rorschach tests…they ‘are basically always a report of memory that is reconstructed while the person is awake.’”

Unfortunately, not all dreams help us reconstruct events, make new connections and insights. “Roughly half of all dreams are related to anxiety and fear.”

According Freud, “dreams, which he called the ‘royal road to the unconscious,’The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) in which he proposed the argument that the unconscious exists and described a method for gaining access to it…for Freud, the ideals of the Enlightenment, positivism and rationalism, could be achieved through understanding, transforming, and mastering the unconscious, rather than through denying or repressing it.” (Wikipedia) provided the best access to our unconscious life and the best illustration of its ‘logic,’ which was different from the logic of conscious thought. Freud developed his first topology of the psyche in

While I would be cautious in interpreting dreams, when it comes to enterprise architecture and the skillful forecasting and planning that it entails, dreams can be beneficial in a number of ways. Firstly, dreams can provide insights and connections that one wouldn’t normally have in a fully conscious state. Further, not only does sleep provides the ability to see things differently in dreams, but also when you wake up and are refreshed, you “see things in a new light.” That’s why you may have heard the saying “to sleep on it” before making an important decision. Sleeping refreshes the body and the soul; with adequate sleep, the mind is sharper and the thinking more analytical and precise. I would rather get my architecture from someone who is well rested and clear-headed, than a sleep deprived architecture jockey.

>Conflict Theory and Enterprise Architecture


“Conflict theory states that the society or organization functions so that each individual participant and its groups struggle to maximize their benefits… The essence of conflict theory is best epitomized by the classic ‘pyramid structure’ in which an elite dictates terms to the larger masses. All major institutions, laws, and traditions in the society are created to support those who have traditionally been in power, or the groups that are perceived to be superior in the society according to this theory. This can also be expanded to include any society’s ‘morality’ and by extension their definition of deviance. Anything that challenges the control of the elite will likely be considered ‘deviant’ or ‘morally reprehensible.” (Wikipedia)

In the organization that we work in, today—modern times—is everything copascetic or is there inherent conflict, and how does this affect EA? And how is this impacted by EA?

We all hear and read the message from the top—from the executive(s) in charge—messages of unity of command, unity of purpose, and unity of structure. “We’re all in this together!”

However, the reality is that there are power struggles up and down, sideways, and on the diagonals, of the organization—this is conflict theory! Those at the top, wish to stay there. Those at the lower rungs, wish to climb up and check out the view. The organization is a pyramid, with fewer and fewer senior level positions as you go higher and higher up. Everyone in the organization is evaluated by measures of performance and is competing for resources, power, influence, and advancement.

I remember learning at Jewish day school, that people are half animal and half angel. Sort of like the age old conflict of good and evil. Freud, for the individual, put it in terms of the id and superego.

On one hand, conflict theory pits egocentric and selfish behavior against the greater needs of the organization (and the goals of EA) to share, collaborate, integrate, and go forward as the army slogan states, “an army of one!” The individual or group in the enterprise wants to know the proverbial, “what’s in it for me?”

On the other hand, User-centric EA is about collaboration: collaboration between business and IT, collaboration within the business, collaboration within IT, and even collaboration outside the agency (such as through alignment to the department, the federal EA, and so on). The collaboration takes the form of information sharing, structured governance, an agreed on target and plan, and the building of interoperability, standards, efficiencies, enterprise solutions, and overall integration!

It is not easy for EA to be a counterbalance for conflict theory. The organization needs to provide incentives for positive behavior (and disincentives for negative behavior), so that everyone is encouraged to team, collaborate, share, and look at the bigger picture for the success of overall enterprise!

I’ve seen organizations take steps toward building unity through team awards, criteria in everyone’s performance evaluation for teamwork, and actual mandates to share information. These are positive steps, but more needs to be done to make the enterprise flatter, more collaborative, and remind all employees that they work for the end-user.

>Sigmund Freud and Enterprise Architecture


“Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind.”

Freud is probably one of the best known and most influential psychiatrists of all time.

What are some of Freud’s major contributions to understanding human behavior?

  1. Unconscious mind—Perhaps the most significant contribution Freud made to Western thought was his argument for the existence of an unconscious mindhe proposed that awareness existed in layers and that some thoughts occurred “below the surface.
  2. Id, Ego, and Superego—Sigmund Freud’s “structural theory” introduced new terms to describe the division between the conscious and unconscious: ‘id,’ ‘ego,’ and ‘super-ego.’ The “id” (fully unconscious) contains the drives and those things repressed by consciousness—it is dominated by the pleasure principle; the “ego” (mostly conscious) deals with external reality—its task is to find a balance between primitive drives, morals, and reality; and the “super ego” (partly conscious) is the conscience or the internal moral judge.
  3. Psychoanalysis—Freud is the father of psychoanalysis (free association), is which the analyst upon hearing the thoughts of the patient, formulates and then explains the unconscious bases for the patient’s symptoms and character problems. Through the analysis of resistance (unconscious barriers to treatment often referred to as defense mechanisms) and transference unto the analyst, expectations, wishes and emotions, from prior unresolved conflicts is often unearthed, and can be quite helpful to the patient. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

How can Freud’s contributions help us be better enterprise architects?

  • Developing a deeper understanding of stakeholders—Understanding that leaders, subject matter experts, end-users, and other stakeholders don’t always communicate what’s on their mind or even know fully what’s on their mind (because some of it is in the unconscious), can help us as architects to dig longer and deeper to work with, question, and seek to understand our stakeholders and their requirements. Very often open-ended questions (or free association) works best to let user get to what they truly want to communicate, while at other times closed-ended type questions may get more quickly to the facts that are needed.
  • Not everything the users want is for the ultimate good of the organization—While most users have the very best intentions at heart, there is a component in all of us called the id, that are unconscious desires driven by the pleasure principle. “The id is the primal, or beast-like, part of the brain…the prime motive of the id is self-survival, pursuing whatever necessary to accomplish that goal.” The id can drive some users to pursue “requirements” that are good for their own selves, careers, ego, or training goals, but may not be ‘right’ for the enterprise. For example, some users may want to purchase a technology that “they know” (or are familiar with) or that will make their functions or departments more important or powerful in the organization, or to show “what they can do”. While this is not the rule, I think we can all probably relate experiences at work to this. (Thank G-d for Investment Review Board and EA Boards to catch some of these and put them back in their boxes.)
  • People are resistant to change and have all sorts of defense mechansims that can impede progress—“When anxiety [between the selfish id and moral superego] becomes too overwhelming it is then the place of the ego to employ defense mechanisms to protect the individual” However, while mechanisms such as denial, repression, rationalization, and so on can help protect the person, they often hinder progress at the organizational-level. Just because a person can’t get what they want (technology toys, resources, turf, prestige…), they “act out” to protect their own self interest and thereby also impede the organization. As architects, we are not psychoanalysts nor psychiatrists, so we can not resolve people’s underlying internal battles or unfilled desires. But what we can do is recognize and call attention to these mechanisms and their impact, and work to focus the architecture on the good of the organization versus the good of any particular stakeholder.