Antifragile

I finally worked all the way through Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Taleb.

An amazing book. Amazing obvious ideas.

I’m now thinking about how to apply this in IT. How do we build processes and IT infrastructures that gain from disorder. Systems that don’t fail from stress, but instead get stronger.

I’m thinking that the redundancy we’ve put into our network structures might get stronger over time due to disruptions. Over time, we adapt, put in more capacity, more redundancy, work out triangle WAN links between sites, design in excess capacity, etc. as a direct result of events that hurt the network. The net impact of the negative events is that the whole gets stronger. Does that count as one way antifragility increases in the system? We do seem to have less negative impact from outages because the ‘whole’ is more capable of adapting to outages.

Do our information systems get more antifragile over time as we experience issues, problems, outages, etc. and then adapt and improve and improve the ‘whole’ to lessen the impact of those events? Are we learning from these events and getting stronger as a result? Are our management teams getting more antifragile as we learn, adapt and improve over time?

Think about storage and how it used to be the drive failures resulted in outages in the data center. Such outages are hardly an event at all any more due to much higher MTBF on drives and due to RAID and other technologies that have been honed and improved over the years. Fragility has been reduced in our storage systems.

Lots to think about here.

A Few Reading Recommendations

Finally caught up on some reading material. Here are a few great online posts you might check out.

  1. A 10 Step Process for Protecting an Organization’s Data
  2. A really cool list of Gifts for User Experience Geeks for 2011
  3. A good list of books to read about complex problems called Five Must-Reads for Tackling Complex Problems which includes some of my favorites.
  4. A finally a great post of the dangers of collaboration entitled Eight Dangers of Collaboration. Great thoughts to actively think about as you are trying to improve collaboration in a team or workplace.

I’ve been behind on posting, but have a stack of ideas I want to write about soon. I leave you with a really great quote:

“One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present.   In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present.  When you defend those who are absent, you retain the trust of those present.”

–Stephen Covey

Architecture Tool

a needed tool for viewing the IT architecture of an enterprise

It seems that there needs to be a tool that IT can use to document their architecture in a fashion that that allows the architecture to be easily viewed from different view points.   An organization should be able to view the enterprise from some or all of the following views and perhaps others:

  1. business view as in business functions like A/P, Purchasing, etc.
  2. IT system view as in A/P as part of ERP plus any supporting systems.
  3. data view to look at particular data elements across all systems, etc.
  4. physical view of computer systems in data centers.
  5. network view of connections.
  6. organization view where parts are owned and supported by particular groups, as in IT teams, etc.
  7. an external view of how the enterprise is viewed by the outside.
  8. perhaps an identity management view
  9. perhaps a security view that shows the defenses, barriers, authentication methods, etc. across the enteprise

I’m just making up a list of views that would be useful.  Imagine a pivot table type tool where you could spin the views around on demand to look at things differently quickly.   If the tool could be updated by teams and individuals across the enterprise a complete view of  the IT world could be built and used in countless ways and conversations.

Obviously I’m not an expert on this kind of modeling and not an expert on these tools.   I’ve seen business process mapping tools and they don’t go anywhere near this and static PowerPoint files don’t work for this either.    Of course the tools needs to be free, easy to learn, be browser agnostic and create a peaceful attitude in all who use it.

If you know of such, let me know.    Someone mentioned TOGAF to me yesterday and I might take a look and see if it goes here.

Comments welcome.