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

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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Classifying Business Rules: I Go By What the Standards Say

      In classifying ‘rules’ I go by the standards … Business Motivation Model (BMM): business policies vs. business rules
  • Business rules are always practicable – workers can apply them directly.
  • Business policies are not – they must be interpreted first.
SBVR: definitional rules (necessities) vs. behavioral rules (obligations) vs. advices (possibilities or permissions).
  • Definitional rules (including decision rules) are about shaping knowledge (and cannot be violated).
  • Behavioral rules are about shaping conduct (and can be violated).
  • Advices are non-rules; they provide practicable guidance but do not remove any degree of freedom.
I would add only these observations: 
  • The kinds of rules you see in decision tables are generally definitional. Since they represent only a subset of all definitional rules I call them ‘decision rules’ for convenience.
  • Condition-Action or Event-Condition-Action (ECA) rules are not business rules at all. They are representations of business rules (for a class of implementation platforms).
  • My smart phone can tell me in spoken English where the nearest gas station is. It’s only a matter of time before machines start ‘reading’ regulations, contracts, agreements, business policies, etc. to help people formulate (through dialog) practicable (and implementable) business rules. Can you imagine the productivity benefits?!
  • Decision tables are great. Everybody should use them. But they are a lot harder to design well than you might think.
  • The DMN standard can move things along significantly … if it is good, and it isn’t overhyped (which it already has been in certain quarters). I’m looking forward to it impatiently. But standardization (in equal parts a political process and a technical process) do take some time!

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Rules in a Knife Fight?! Classic Advice

The other night I watched the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for about the 50th time. It’s a highly entertaining movie – all you have to do is suspend judgment.  As a rules person, the classic scene for me is Harveychallenging Butch to a knife fight (with a knife about the size of a machete) for leadership of the gang. Now Butch is the one who’s always thinking. Stalling for a bit of time he walks an angling path toward Harveyand says, “No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.” Harvey, thrown off guard, says (paraphrasing), “Rules?! There are no rules in a knife fight!” Well, exactly! Poor Harvey pays for his moment of verbal clarity with a challenge-ending reminder that, well, there are no rules in a knife fight.  In SBVR terms, Harveyexpressed an advice, a non-rule. If Harvey had been a rule analyst (doubtful) he might have said: “Any action is permitted in a knife fight.” The statement is not a rule because it removes no degree of freedom. Butch, always thinking, complied completely.

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