Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence

Wanted: A New Knowledge Paradigm

ParadigmShift[1]My inner geek gets as excited as the next professional about all the technological innovations adding up to what gurus are calling the digital platform or digital business – or simply digital. This new wave of technological capability features social, mobile, cloud, big data, and more. It promises a host of new capabilities to accelerate innovation including robotics, 3D printing, internet of things, cognitive, and augmented reality. WOW!!

But there’s a little voice inside me counseling caution. When have new platforms or channels ever fixed major business challenges?!

It’s all too easy to get caught up in ChannelMania, a state of virtual panic about introducing the next big thing, keeping up with the Joneses technologically. In the frenzy you can easily lose sight of the hidden business costs.

We should step back, take a deep breath, and ask ourselves some fundamental questions.

  • How well can we really manage yet more channels?
  • Do we deliver consistent business results to our customers?
  • Are we happy with our current lot in managing change?
  • Does the company have any real strategy to address ever-accelerating complexity?
  • With all the new agile methods, is the business actually becoming more agile?

It’s not too hard to envision what real operational excellence would look like.

  • Your customers would get consistent business results through any of many channels.
  • Rolling out business change would be faster and cheaper.
  • You could demonstrate compliance at every turn.
  • You could manage complexity at scale.
  • You’d provide stellar customer experience at inhuman speeds.

The question, of course, is how do we get there? I argue that we need a new knowledge paradigm. I call it Business Knowledge Engineering.

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Read about the new knowledge paradigm: http://www.brcommunity.com/articles.php?id=b900

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IT Departments Should be Evacuated – Agree/Disagree?

Fire_Exit_Doors[1]Let’s put you on the hot spot. You are forced to agree or disagree with the following statement, and defend your answer. What would you say?

Evacuating the IT department to weave IT into the business optimizes business capabilities.

Here’s how I answer: I agree. How about you?

My reasoning: Almost 20 years ago, John Zachman made me read an article by Peter F. Drucker in Forbes Magazine called The Next Information Revolution. It made such an impression on me I still have a yellowing copy of it pasted on a cabinet in my office.

To make a long story short, the article relates how in the 1400s and 1500s there was a period of time when printers of books dined with royalty and noblemen. Printing was such a revolutionary and scarce skill they were the heroes of the day.

By the late 1500s, however, printing had become such a commodity that the occupation had completely lost its luster. No more dining with kings and queens.

My point is this: The days of traditional departmental IT staff having unfettered access to the financial assets of the corporate budget will end sooner than you might think. The current way of building business systems is unsustainable. If you think the cloud was something, just wait!

I look at agile software development as the death throes of traditional IT. Beyond it there’s nowhere left to go to accelerate except to elevate the level of human interfaces with machines. Economics will demand it.

As traditional IT loses its grip, IT will of course become better woven into the fabric of the business. And that’s going to be a great thing for optimizing business capabilities.

Knowingly or not, business analysts are playing a founder’s role in that shift of power back to the business side. Yes, some days it feels like an impossible struggle, but time, economics and technology are on your side.

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Mark Your Calendar: The annual Building Business Capability (BBC) conference is November 6-10, 2017 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL. The BBC is the place to be for professional excellence!

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Agree/Disagree? Digital Mind Essential for Business Analysts

digital-mind[1]Let’s put you on the hot spot. You are forced to agree or disagree with the following statement, and defend your answer. What would you say?

The most valuable asset of a business analyst is a digital mind.

Here’s how I answer: I agree. How about you?

My reasoning: I almost certainly don’t agree with the statement in the way you think I might. It’s not the business analyst who needs a digital mind. It’s our machines that need the digital minds.

As we increasingly disintermediate customers and company workers, we will no longer have our workers in the loop to convey and apply operational business knowledge at the point of interaction to make things right. Machines will have to do that work. And those machines must be equipped with the knowledge to do so.

The key to launching us successfully into the digital age is setting up deep knowledge reservoirs in the company. Obviously, they will be digital.

The first and most basic step toward treating knowledge as a first-class citizen is true business rules. Business rules represent explicit operational knowledge. By the way, because of the need for compliance and traceability, business rules (think obligations) will never go away.

There are, of course, other ways in which knowledge can be applied to processes, ones where traceability and compliance aren’t so important – for example, machine learning and neural nets. Those technologies can also be used to build digital minds for your organization.

As a professional, how do you future-proof yourself? The secret is to make yourself indispensable both to the business and to machines in the business with digital minds.

Given that insight, what is the most valuable asset of the business analyst in the long term? It’s not agile, it’s not empowerment, it’s not even critical thinking. It’s the ability to communicate deeply and creatively using concise terminology about the problem space. If you’re still speaking in codes and data fields – in ITSpeak – I’m afraid you’re not on the critical path.

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Mark Your Calendar: The annual Building Business Capability (BBC) conference is November 6-10, 2017 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL. The BBC is the place to be for professional excellence!

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5 Basic Criteria for Great Business Definitions

criteriaDefinitions of business terms with subtle IT or ‘data’ bias are an anathema to effective communication with business partners. Good business definitions are oriented to what words mean when used by real business people talking directly about real business things.

Here are 5 basic criteria for great business definitions:

 

  1. It should be easy to give examples for the thing defined, but there should be no counterexamples.
  2. Each definition should communicate the essence of what a thing is, not what it does, how it’s used, or why it’s important.
  3. The definition of a thing should focus on its unique characteristics.
  4. Each thing you define should be distinguishable from every other thing you define using the definition alone.
  5. Each definition should be concise and as short as possible without loss of meaning. A definition should be readable.

One thing may surprise you about great business definitions. The very first noun in each definition is absolutely key. These first words are the secret sauce of excellent business definitions. Read more in our new Primer (free download).

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Extracted from: How to Define Business Terms in Plain English, by Ronald G. Ross – free download, 26pp, pdf, http://www.brsolutions.com/publications/crafting-definitions-a-primer/

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