March 16, 2008

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.


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