I was listening to a portion of one of Dr. King’s speeches the other day.  I noticed one aspect of leadership I hadn’t really paid attention before.

In his speech, Dr. King spoke of going to the top of the mountain and seeing the promised land. While the phrasing is very biblical, the point is transcendent: if you want to change things, describe the future.  Over and over.  Find a language and a voice: become the symbol for how the future can look.  “Where a man is judged by the content of his character, and not the color of his skin.” 

Dr. King repeated his vision of the future.  He believed that it could happen… maybe not in his lifetime, but that it could happen.  He built a desire for the future, and hope for the future, and a community of people who were dedicated to making it happen.

With great respect to a leader who I never had the chance to know, I hope to apply this skill that he demonstrates.  I hope to spend my time describing the future of software.  I’ll start right now…

  • I have a dream, of a world where business users describe their needs and software systems can reconfigure themselves to meet them, without spending wheelbarrows of cash, months of lost nights, and many layers of stomach lining.
  • I have a dream, of tools that free the truly visionary software developers from drudgery and allow the real expression of pure analytical thought.
  • I have a dream, of standards so ubiquitious that it is as easy to change a business rule in a production application as it is for me to carry my televison set from my family room to my living room and know that when I plug it in, it will work.
  • I have a dream, of a world where the people who don’t belong in software can leave it, because the rote and monotonous work that we keep giving them will dry up, and they can take up oil painting, mountain climbing and new car sales.
  • I have a dream, of tools that allow teams to focus on doing what they do best, and remove those extra steps that project managers ask for to measure value, but which serve to increase costs without adding value.
  • I have a dream, of a framework of well-described standard components, all well understood and readily available, allowing a business to change only the single component that will provide strategic value.
  • I have a dream of a world where an army of consultants is not required for business to learn and apply Six Sigma, Lean processes, and the Theory of Constraints to optimize the value chain… Where these skills are magnified by excellent tools using simple methods and widely taught to real business people.

And, with deference to one of the greatest human beings of our time or any other, I have taught myself and my children to love all people, and to judge a man or woman by the content of their character, and never, ever, the color of their skin.


By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

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