Castles and cannon balls

Great one by Alan:

The real problem is that government (and I’m not singling out any one country here) is fragmented, not given to working in cross-functional, let alone cross-departmental, teams. Government is composed not of silos anymore but of well-defended, heavily reinforced forts. Ever since Cromwell signed away the power of the monarchy in 16 hundred and whatever has this been the case. Breaking down the walls of these forts requires a few hundred cannons and a big stack of balls – not just of the cannon variety either.

Incidentally (?), the image used by the editor of the printed version of Walls of Government Come Down in Denmark shows a Danish castle, namely Egeskov Slot (slot is Danish for castle):
Egeskov Castle
Images from (check for more information about Danish castles).

I don’t know if they have any castles in Utah, but Dave has some good points anyway:

I don’t know if we can always break down the walls, but we can begin to network these fortifications together better by understanding their purpose, taking advantage of their strengths and creating constructive communication ties with their defenders. These existing systems become part of the infrastructure. Using XML and web services, we build integrated delivery systems on top of this existing architechture and then redefine it’s role in the enterprise.

In the work with our upcoming whitepaper on national enterprise architecture, we have also talked about silos, islands, cities, forts, and many other metaphors. I am not sure how many metaphors will make it into the final whitepaper, since people tend to misunderstand metaphors. Especially those living in big castles. They see the outside world through arrow loops, and have a hard time getting the full picture.

I like the Machiavellian stance Alan takes. That is what we need more of in government. I also like what Dave says about networking the fortifications, and agree that we should use XML and web services to make these connections, although I also think we need to look more carefully at all layers of the architectures, and will need to open up a lot of the various black boxes out there.

As we have seen only too often, that is a difficult process. I don’t want to make too many parallels, but here goes a dangerous description of the challenges: We risk finding a lot of stuff we really wouldn’t like to know of (we have problems enough as is). We will meet resistance and non-cooperation. We could use a “diplomatic window”. But – and that’s my point – we don’t need to send in the marines; there are and always will be other ways solve problems.

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