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

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Confession Time … I Fell into the Same Vocabulary Trap I Warn Everyone Else About

I have been involved in a great on-going discussion on LinkedIn about data models. I posed the question: Is there any proven way to demonstrate data models are correct, complete, and stable with respect to the operational business and its needs? You might enjoy joining in: http://goo.gl/MsnXu It was literally 25 messages into the discussion that I realized “data model” was being used in two distinct ways in the discussion. And even then it had to be pointed out by a participant who seemed to know one of the other people.
  • I always mean “data model” in the ‘old’ way, in which the data model supports real-time business operations (or close thereto). In that world, you must design for integrity, which generally means ‘highly normalized’ in the relational sense.
  • In the old-but-not-nearly-as-old world of OLAP, real-time operations and updates are not a concern, so de-normalization (and redundancy) are presumably acceptable. (I’ll leave that question to the experts.)
That’s always the problem with vocabulary – deeply buried assumptions that prevent you from hearing what you need to hear. From experience, I know the trap oh-so-well, but here I fell right into it myself. What’s the answer to the question I posed for “data models” (of the kind I meant)? Focusing on the meaning and structure of business vocabulary, not data, as a core part of business analysis.  Note to self (a rule): When you enter any discussion, be clear what you mean by the terms you use – even (and maybe especially) the ‘obvious’ ones.

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Ronald G. Ross

Ronald G. Ross

Ron Ross, Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rules Solutions, LLC, is internationally acknowledged as the “father of business rules.” Recognizing early on the importance of independently managed business rules for business operations and architecture, he has pioneered innovative techniques and standards since the mid-1980s. He wrote the industry’s first book on business rules in 1994.

Comments (2)

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    Colin Campbell

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    It’s an audience thing. Having compiled a glossary for a structured business vocabulary I am all too aware of the disjunct between pedantic zealous use of approved (preferred) terms and the business sea of synonyms, homonyms, antonyms and other nyms they swim or threaten to drown in. Sometimes in face to face conversation the alternative terms are more effective for clear understanding. Conversely, written business rules must use the approved terms and must be accompanied by a used glossary filled with usable definitions. Here in the written arena the ‘terminator’ can practice his pedantic zealotry with all the blistering energy he or she can summon.

    • Ronald G. Ross

      Ronald G. Ross

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      Credit for “terminator” … I first heard it from Karel van Campenhout (not an IT guy) of American Bureau of shipping about 1998. If you know Karel (Flemish), you could totally belive he could come up with it. Back then the joke was you could refer to Arnold S. as the “govenator”.

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