Written by: Neil Brown

It seems not just possible, but likely, that much good will come from our COVID confinement. We may all be thankful for the chance to rethink priorities – personal and professional. In the past, I might have wasted a lot of this extra time playing PC Strategy games – a terrible weakness of mine.

As it is, during lockdown, I have spent a great deal of time gardening, walking with the wife and planning out a rainwater gathering system to rival the fabled ‘hanging gardens of Babylon’.  Of course, I am unlikely to ever build this, but future owners of our property will have some very detailed blueprints to work from, should they wish to proceed.


The PC game I loved the most was one called Civilisation. This involved wandering around, discovering a landscape, building and connecting cities, and fighting off neighbouring civilisations. All was black to start with and this became known as the ‘Fog of War’. You never quite knew what was over the next hill, and it was easy (and very frustrating), to place a city in the wrong place. So, I often deployed a hack – one that removed the fog of war and allowed you to see the whole map and place everything in the most efficient place possible.

It seems efficiency is something I am very interested in – on both a personal and professional level! As an Enterprise and Business Architect and Strategist I have spent a great deal of my career reverse engineering business blueprints that remove the ‘Fog of War’ for organisations. This has now become one of Effectus’ core services with clients in Roading, Education and Central Government.

It often amazes me that organisations embark on major change with little idea of a target state to which it will need to align. I think the ‘Fog of War’ ought to bother us more than it does. Is this the right place to build a city, or should we be building roads? Are we thinking in silos? What is over the next hill, in terms of new technology, digital game changers, market disruptors and now COVID-19 forces adaptation? And how can we map change to our current business and show that it supports our strategic outcomes?

Maybe following our ‘useful hiatus’, we can reconvene and start tolerating the ‘fog of war’ less? Maybe, investing in a service blueprint (say) to inform what changes need to be made, is not a cheat or a luxury item, but a necessity for organisations with ambitions to be as efficient as they can be?

As for my rainwater catchment system, well, on paper it looks tremendous. Babylonians watch out! But until I get around to building it, at least I know exactly where not to plant the raspberries.

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