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


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The Gigantic Logjam

A reader of my blog observed that rulebook management often faces the same organizational challenges as business architecture. So true. Some 30,000-foot thoughts about why it’s so hard so get organizations to adopt them …

1. John Zachman says enterprises (organizations) are the most complicated things ever invented by humans. Now I can think of some things that are pretty darn complicated … say nuclear weapons … but ultimately they reduce to mathematical equations. Businesses don’t. He’s probably right.

2. We’ve been at automating enterprises for how long? Say 50 years? Only one generation. Our generation (well, mine anyway). There might be a few things we haven’t figured out yet?!

3. The power of computers has increased faster than our imagination about how to use them. Add to that the huge inertia faced in changing the current skill base (much less the current legacy portfolios themselves) and it all adds up to … a gigantic logjam.

And that’s where we sit today. Management feels pain, but they can’t diagnose the real sources of the pain. IT knows … well … IT. The economics of the current scheme no longer produce real value except at the edges of operations (e.g., analytics, social media, etc.). And the current infrastructure is no longer scalable or sustainable cost-wise. Logjam. But what happens in a logjam? Pressure builds up and eventually it bursts. So let me repeat my prediction made a few posts back … and add that something equivalent will eventually happen for business architecture.

>> In the long run the whole equation will change. The fundamental problem lies with the fact that business rules still have to be programmed. (Even production rules are programming.) Take programmers out of the business of implementing rules, put business analysts and skilled writers in their place (with appropriate tools), and the current economics of rule management (and IT as a whole) can be improved by at least an order of magnitude. At least!

Entrepreneurs will eventually see the opportunity. (I just hope some of them are in North America.)

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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 (1)

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    Milan Kratochvíl


    Well put! For some reason, data externalization and even workflow externalization have been considered more “natural” in IT (and even more in BPM and EA) than business-rule externalization (which once upon a time got a rocket-science label that sticks). The result: missed flexibility, and speed, because of rules “hidden” and “hard-wired” elsewhere . Not to mention intelligence: in a real-time economy, if the knowhow is only in Post-its, brainware, or (at most) procedural/imperative programs (that take days or weeks to alter), the enterprise will behave as if its IQ were in an iverse ratio to the sum IQ of employees…

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