Flowcharts for Knowledge Processes?

We can sit down together and bemoan or complain in blogs as to why flow-based processes are so often designed wrongly. Most seem to blame the designer taking a wrong approach or not applying some methodology the right way. Others see a lack of customer focus (i.e. Outside-In). From a modeling perspective, the concept of flowcharts is simply too limited. They might resemble how our brain remembers sequential events, but that does not mean that this actually represents the way things have happened or might happen in the future. Whenever humans are involved, you can count on creative chaos appearing. Therefore, I propose that process design is too restrictive to organize human business interactions, while social E2.0 tools provide no business structure. Simply adding the two together still leaves a huge gaping hole in between.

The universe and all its evolved structures are complex adaptive systems (CAS) that do not follow simple causal relationships or sequences. We are and always will be ignorant to the total possible complexity. The idea that we can identify and control those relationships is the ultimate fallacy and truly the ultimate arrogance of human reason. In a biological and psychological perspective, our human capability to reason is enabled by our neocortex, but we must never forget that our reasoning is built on totally abstract term definitions that have only a very weak pattern link to reality. We cannot even define what the real components of any CAS are. We cannot identify by statistical analysis of the past how such systems will function in the future, because the observation uses a modeling assumption, an erroneous measurement principle, and completely illusionary causal relationships. We discover this to be true from quantum physics to financial markets. And still we go on and on and on with pronouncing and believing in predictability. The simplification of patterns into terminology explains our human propensity for simple solutions, but the fallacy is in believing that therefore the systems ARE simple. Natural systems are ALL complex adaptive no matter how well some models may seem to apply between arbitrarily chosen cutoff points of system properties. No scientific model has EVER been found to be all-enompassing.

Therefore the title of the book ‘Mastering the Unpredictable’ is a catchy title that captures the intent well, but it was neither my choice nor does the book explain how unpredictability can be ‘mastered’. It is however an important milestone in breaking through the Chinese Wall of BPM. Accepting and preparing for unpredictability would be a much better fitting title. ‘Mastering the Unpredictable’ is literally taken an oxymoron, as is ‘controlled anarchy or chaos’. So we could have a discussion on the literal meaning of those terms ‘mastering’ and ‘unpredictable’ and that would be no more than proving my point. Without well-defined terms there is no meaning and no context. Therefore any information system that does not enable to freely define the ONTOLOGY of terms to be used in modeling the real world and allows to continuously adapt them to needs, will simply run into substantial limitations like those experienced with the BPM flow model assumption!

Ontologies and taxonomies are often misunderstood and even mixed up. They seem to be similar but perform two very distinct but related functions. Ontologies declare the terminology of a model language and are created in a design approach. Taxonomies are created by analysis of patterns and describe categorization or generalization-specialization relationships. A taxonomy defines which group something belongs to and how these groups relate, while an ontology defines how to describe knowledge about things. A repository archive uses a taxonomy to categorize the stored instances, while a meta-data repository defines ontologies of application models. Adaptive requires a meta-data repository.


About Max J. Pucher

I am the founder and Chief Technology Officer of ISIS Papyrus Software, a medium size software company specializing in communications and process management. I wrote several books and hold a number of patents. My quest is to bring common sense to IT, mostly by focusing in human quality issues rather than cost saving, outsourcing and automation. I am also Chief Architect at VIPorbit software which provides mobile relationship management.
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