While working on the m3 model over the past year another idea started circulating in my head. That idea matured into a focus on Business Process Management (BPM). In the “process” of learning and applying the Object Management Group (OMG) and Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) style of modeling business processes – the Business Process Management Notation (BPMN). A couple of additional ideas started seeping into my mind and work.

Aside from the fact that businesses, or any other type of work in general, should be able to address the basic questions of:

  • Why is the business or organization in existence (or pre-existence)?
  • What is the business or purpose of their organization?
  • Who is the business or organization?
  • Where is the business or organization?
  • How is the business or organization going to do its business or achieve its goals (the “what”)?

My great AHA moment came when I realized that most business books, articles, blogs, and other resources focus on one of these primal journalistic questions (omitting the when for now) – OK, I may be slow but I get the point eventually. While thinking about this I immediately started wondering about the links between and among these questions, and I settled on this nested model of organizing and thinking about how to make my own sense of these basic starting point questions:

Thinking about these questions and arranging them in this nested fashion two things stand out. First, the Why question is the all encompassing bath water for a business or an organization. Everything about the entity directly emanates or connects back to the all encompassing reason(s) for being. Think about the ubiquitous mission, vision, or purpose statements proliferated by companies, government agencies, and non-profits over the past twenty years. The Why question should link and unify everything in the business or organization and provide a tether to the outside world (whether that’s the marketplace, citizens, or serving the needs of the community).

Second, the How question stood out as the glue of the questions and the core – in more ways than one. How is the heart of a business or organization. It is the pumping engine that translates Why and What into actions done by Who, Where, and When. I omitted the When question for now, as When is a function of each of the other questions. So, I’m back to the How.

The result of looking at How is a whitepaper posted to SlideShare, Business Process Management Center of Excellence, discussing business process management and a process for implementing BPM as either a core competency or as a center of excellence – best as I can figure the only tangible difference in these is that a core competency is not a staffed functional capability (that is, everyone in the organization is doing or should be able to do it) and a center of excellence has a little more meat on the bones (infrastructure + staffed resources [people]).

Let me know what you think by either posting comments back here to the blog or on the SlideShare site.

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Over the past year (plus) I have been looking for a way to connect some pieces of my work and interests. Here’s a start.

 

m-cubed is a process evolving from process, knowledge, and software development – and including some “building block” concepts! Specifically, this methodology blends together a specific workflow process with quantifiable metrics based on open source or recognized Standards Development Organizations.

 

 

Since this is more than a blog entry I have uploaded the document to the SlideShare website, and you may read, download, comment, use, and let me know what you like or what needs to be changed. I am really interested in comments and feedback…so let me know.

http://www.slideshare.net/zenokie/m3-requirements-engineering-in-the-sdlc-20100326/


More to come…but knowledge is truly moving….stay tuned!


Classic SNL

Classic SNL

OK, so I’m not the dedicated blogger I hoped to be about a year ago. Life happens! Still every once in a while I think about adding to this and someone reminds that I need to update or add something to one of the rant/entries on this site. Well, simply put I’m at a sticking point. Not a Malcolm Gladwell kind of tipping point, but just a stuck point. I’m including some additional thoughts and ideas into a larger project I’ve been working on now for the past six months.

Imagine Ronco meets knowledge. The “Bass-O-Matic” of knowledge tools. That’s the hype, and that’s the plan…stay tuned. I will get back to this train of thought before long.


Over the past week I have been brushing up on my database and spreadsheet skills. Once again, I come face-to-face with one of the function capabilities within databases and its spreadsheet byproducts: the combination of strings, or concatenated fields and cells. Other than being a fun way to say, “merging,” the concatenated object may provide a model of understanding mashups, Freakonomics, and other Franken-measures. Dare I say, information as thing is back? I dare!

I am still digesting and looking for more information, but over the weekend the BBC World Service had an interesting interview [requires Windows Media Player or Real Player] with Ian Ayers (author of the popular Super Crunchers book). I’ll add this to my reading list shortly when I get the time to do some more reading for fun – or figure out why this is important to my project at hand. In fact, the title for this posting borrows a tongue-in-cheek play on Ayers’s “database decision making” trend in this country and across the flat world.

Since I started writing this (and this is a couple of weeks past my original goal to have it posted), I have had some time to mull over the importance and idea behind concatenating. First, consider the rash of so-called Web 2.0 (or just add 2.0 to your preferred subject) applications, ideas, and concepts circulating in the current marketplace of ideas. What is Web 2.0 (to say nothing of the push to 3.0 now)? Here’s my simplified view of the landscape:

 

Figure 1, A History of the Point-0 Evolution Path

 

In my father’s web there was DOS, and they rejoiced. In my lifetime (so far), the web evolved into a more visually appealing medium. The UNIX lines of Amazon.com and my old Pine email are relics on the shelf next to my TRS-80 and Pong machine. As look toward the web my children will inherent, my mind spins – not to say this wouldn’t happen anyway, but the possibilities (and my awareness of what it means) are truly mind blowing in a Merry Pranksters kind of way! But then my pop culture cravings reel me back into flashbacks from The Matrix. Are we heading to a more connected world, and what does that mean? Much less, where in the world did a word like “concatenate” come from? Other than the usual suspects of a Google (or other) search, I was surprised to find a medical, a blog (näturlich!), and of course data (this is one of the more obscure but fairly common uses…in the words of the immortal Hyundai commercial, DUH!

As I look at this some more (and get more bleary-eyed), the history I’m laying out in the diagram calls for some more thought…but that’s a later project and posting. And then there’s the whole information or concatenation as thing to come back…joy, joy!

 


Updates

26Apr08

I’ll spare y’all the sob story, but this has been a crappy couple of weeks. Last week I had the flu and this week it’s bronchitis. So, my game is off. I’m trying to make some headway with piecing together fragments I’ve been collecting and writing over the past several weeks…I wish I could call it stream of consciousness, but it may not be that organised! I should be back on top of things next week…


I’ve been considering some of the various components that contribute to collaborative work. In one way or another we all work in a collaborative environment – some or more obvious. Even if your job requires wearing an intercom headset and hovering over a deep fat fryer (hairnets optional) – yeah, I’ve been there, too. But what does it really mean to work collaboratively, and does it matter?

SYNERGY

We’ve all heard the word, maybe even fear the word. About fifteen to twenty years ago, synergy was the it word of the business world. Everything was a flurry of synergies and leveraging the capitalizations of latent synergies (my attempt to introduce the business world to Freud, but somehow I think they’ve met before). “We could do this”or”the successful results of this or that due to”…you guessed it: synergy. But what the hell is this noun that seems to have single-handedly transformed the modern business world?

I was more familiar with the medical-pharmacological definition of synergy before first seeing this on an appraisal report. But, OK, two things working together to make something bigger. Sounds great, and it sounds familiar. We used to call this teamwork (and probably something before that).

TEAMWORK = SYNERGY

I probably won’t get back to keeping these formulae straight, but this also sounds vaguely familiar. Didn’t I blog recently on some repurposing?

Figure 1, The other three Rs

I include this recycling paradigm because it struck me much in the same way as repurposing content that IDEAS or buzzwords are really just content or knowledge objects (things) themselves. I suppose the major criticisms on this paradigm might be, “how can you reduce ideas?” Valid question. This goes back to something else I have been working on and that is understanding the starting points for projects – although not excluding the economic or other incentives, how do I start XYZ?

Well, to answer this I turned to some friends in the engineering world (the builders and shakers). As a very logical and systematic discipline, I hoped I would be able to find something in their kit or bag of tricks to help me understand a project from start to finish. By the way, this is a conversation I began several months ago…and we’re still only on the prep stuff – not sure what I was thinking but it has been interesting and VERY helpful (especially the cross-disciplinary perspective)!

As my engineer friends remind me, it is from the point of a project idea forward that synergy (good and bad) kicks in. Most engineers (or the ones I talk to) don’t use this S word a lot, although as a rule and on site there are other S words that do color their world! What does come up (more so in the past five years) is project management – the idea and practice certainly goes back further. What project management does for engineers (and the rest of us) is it makes a process understandable and highlights the collaborative nature of the project. Not that the collaboration wasn’t there before PM kicked in, but something in the last twenty years has hyperemphasized this fact.

“I’ll take synergy for $100, Alex.”

But it’s not the word. Synergy as a buzzword is long gone. Ah, but the idea is still there…and maybe that is the texture to building.


Over the past week I’ve been doing some work-related research on some systems architecture and history. Since the deadline was a little flexible and final deliverables were sufficiently vague, I took this opportunity to pay attention to some information sharing, searching, and general behavioral stuff (yes, I think that should be a technical term). Here’s what I observed and learned (or thought I learned):

 

DEFINING REQUIREMENTS

As with most things in life, this first stage in this mini-research project consisted of understanding what I was looking for, why I was looking for “it,” and does this fit into something else (another project, who gets the results, what are the results, etc.).

What was I looking for? In this instance all I was given was an acronym and the general context. Not unusual. (A) it is either assumed I know what the acronym is – with or without the context; or (B) I would be able to find out what it was with little trouble.

Paying attention: I’m not an information desk or a librarian. What is clearly at work in this situation is the assumption that I am a knowledge worker. Big whoop, you might be thinking. But, stop and think for a minute. Knowledge work is not just what we know, but also how we know what we know. The process of learning or knowing something. OK, not a Nobel breakthrough, but looking at the requirements stages as the beginning of a learning process…is huge (at least for me).

Why was I looking for it? This is the easiest part of the process. I was asked by a senior manager to dig into this and see what I could find (more or less a crude paraphrasing of the actual request). Again, the context of the request was in relation to a potential corporate opportunity (i.e., new revenue stream).

Paying attention: the ‘why’ of the process boils down to an economic motive or incentive. Not for me directly, perhaps, but for the company. And that’s good for everyone, right?

 

OK…now, so what?

I’ve got the what and the why, and since the deliverables on this project were vague I’ll leave that part out (final product for those of you on the edges of your seats was a short white paper or backgrounder). But what happens to the many pieces of information that will flow into and out of this project over time? Needless to say this thought sidetracked my on a flowcharting diversion of biblical proportions.

Not just this, but where do all the various information/knowledge objects, things, or bricks fit into this simple request and project development process?

What this reminded me of, of all things, was the old adage to “keep it simple stupid.” I’m sure I could wander around the various psychometric reasons why this particular cliché popped up in this context and find the deeper meaning. What it said to me, however, from the outset is the requirements analysis stage of any project or process – and this applies to the information behavior world. Start with the basics – that’s the simple.


Sexy divides…

04Apr08

OK, the title may put me in searches I don’t want to be, but maybe this will open some eyes to things other than Britney Spears latest navel gazing adventures! So, if that’s you…buckle up and hang on…this ain’t even soft-core (it’s medium-core thinking with your other head!) – or click here.

Before I begin…let me know if the hyperlinks are out of control. I’m experimenting with using hyperlinks as footnotes – not original perhaps, but I thought I’d give it the ole’ college try.

I’m still stuck on the consensus that emerged from a class this week questioning the existence of the digital divide. Prior to the emergence of the digital divide as a sexy topic, the information sciences (and library sciences) referred to this as information poverty.

For me, I placed the emphasis on the poverty part of the earlier concept or issue. Which, of course, brings me back to a realm I’m slightly more comfortable with: economics or social issues. This frames the issue of a digital divide in terms of the long-standing haves versus the have-nots, and I think this is the right place to be and discuss this problem – whether it’s first world
versus
third world (or whatever the latest post-Cold War nomenclature is) or Birmingham, Alabama (see below).

 

Working on the somewhat tenuous idea of where there’s smoke there’s fire, I did some poking around the Internet and found some interesting tidbits of information on and about the digital divide. I’m not including the Wikipedia entry here, but it looks pretty good based on looking at these sites and doing some reading (most of these sites include articles, news stories, etc.).

  • Pew Internet & American Life Project – the granddaddy of digital divide sites. But seriously, this is a well-funded and respected undertaking spanning many domains of Internet and computer uses, services, and potentials. Of particular interest is the section on Internet Evolution.
  • The Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID) – this is a United Nations initiative emphasizing the potential for ICT to take a bite out of international poverty – not just the information kind (I wonder what Bill Crowley would say about this one?).
  • The Digital Divide Network – I somehow missed this one long ago (kind of like the switch from Atari to TRS-80s!). This website is a wealth of information and resources in one place. Definitely more on the activist side (read their about page), and now affiliated as a unit within the Center for Medial & Community, which is part of the Education Development Center. Nonprofit, educator, and community activists all in a convenient one-stop shop! Worth a longer look (unless you’re still looking for Brittney Spears).
  • OLPC (one laptop per child) – sure you’ve heard about this and maybe seen one of the commercials, but did you know they’re now operating in Birmingham, Alabama? That’s right. Not just in Mexico, Peru.
  • The Digital Alliance – a startup, but so too was Microsoft back in the early 1980s! This is one of a number of web-based educational initiatives. Check back in another few years to make sure they’re still around.
  • Govcom.org – Amsterdam-based nonprofit interested in mapping networks.
  • Digital Citizenship – University of Pittsburgh research collaborative.
  • Digital Divides: Past, present, and future Volume 1, Issue 5 (Summer 2003) – while you’re there check out the rest of the IT & Society web journal site (seems like they faschizzled after 2004).

 

Here’s a short reading list of books (available on amazon.com and other
places I’m sure):

For those looking for a more cerebral approach:

 

And for those looking for a graphical representation of the digital divide…well, I don’t have a pretty picture or graph for today. What I did stumble across while wandering through the berry fields of the Internet is another interesting project – focusing on Internet connectivity or digital inclusion (hey, you have to start somewhere, right? Déjà vu): 50X15.


Get a life…

02Apr08

Here’s an interesting story about Second Life: a US House of Representatives committee held the first congressional hearing in Second Life. I didn’t look into this, but it sounds believable enough. My alter ego Zen-like self asks, “is there a difference between the “virtual” and the other Congress?” And how can I tell them apart?

 

Second Life is kind of like Robby the Robot for the twenty-first century. Sure it sounds cool (and you can fly), you can alter your personal identity [somewhere in there is my avatar – floating aimlessly], and it’s a great way to pick up chicks. Oh, wait. It’s not real! In an older podcast or broadcast, Leo Laporte had a mini-rant worthy of DM on Second Life. I’ll paraphrase, “the only thing about this thing is that you can fly, idealize your physical image in the form of a cartoon avatar, and there’s a lot of exposed genitalia flying around here too.”

 

I had to stop and wonder after reading this news story if Congress doesn’t already have enough of a history with sex scandals that they now want to expose themselves virtually rather than in real life? I guess on the upside of this, Tip O’Neill and Newt Gingrich are no longer in the House – the thought of either of them flying around in the buff is enough for me to seriously consider supporting Ralph Nader for President!

 

But seriously, I hear a lot of discussions (mostly against) surrounding the increasingly virtualized world, and I have to sit and have a think. Most of the naysayers against virtualization projects, including Second Life, denounce the lack of personal interaction or something to do with the disconnected (anomie) of society. OK, two thoughts on this one: (1) as an extension of the Internet and the flat world, virtualization makes sense; and (2) it’s fine to rant about the polarization and atomization of society à la Durkheim or Giddens (here’s a great diversion on this topic), but what about the new networks being created bring the troglodytes of the world together?

 

Admittedly, there’s a lot of potential creepiness. Remember the early days of online chat, discussion lists, and early community sites? The anonymity of the Internet (kind of like a techno-trench coat) has been great cover for creeps and other ne’er-do-wells. Moreover, there are tools to surf the Internet anonymously (proxy servers) – or nearly anonymously [beware since these are workarounds, there are, of course, workarounds to the workarounds…and to paraphrase a popular entrepreneurial adage, “where there’s a will, there’s a way – and that cuts both ways.”].

 

Second Life has grown beyond the Pervert Stage (my own Internet taxonomy of the Internet evolution). While the freaks have staked out their island territories and there’s plenty of virtual sex (someone has to pay for the bandwidth); there are also many interesting places to visit. Education sites include Harvard, UC-Berkley (couldn’t find their link), NASA, and NOAA. Of interest to my 5033 readers, there’s also an LIS site (at least one). And, naturally, there are several computer science islands and locations within Second Life.

 

At the end of the day, I’m torn between the allure and possibilities of the virtual world and the potential for disconnect. Virtual worlds, such as Second Life, offer fantasy, distance learning, and an amazing opportunity to share and exchange information and knowledge. For example, in many ways I already work in a virtual office. My company has a brick-and-mortar (real world) office, but we’re also spread out in small numbers across the country and overseas. I don’t punch a time clock in the conventional sense; so what’s to prevent a company from creating a presence in Second Life – there are a few (outside of the Linden-seeking entrepreneurs)? Webcams would become obsolete, but then everyone showing up for a staff or board meeting would be flying around in various states of buffness…hmm, food for thought!