Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Clarifying Power of Verbs

I notice that whenever I give my S-Y-N-C talk the note-takers reach for their pens when the discussion comes to verbs. The action-based taxonomy that I advocate is a simple and effective way to anticipate (and eliminate) some common barriers to enterprise architecture before we crash into them:

* Hair-splitting -- The chances for semantic quibbling over what to call stuff are greatly reduced when things become actions. There are many fewer ways of describing a predicate than a subject. The likelihood for shared agreements increases.

* User-centric -- Instead of fighting over what to call things an action-based taxonomy helps us agree on how and why our customers draw on our content supply.

* Reporting -- You can't plot the outcomes you're supporting (new IP, project requirements, business development) without building an architecture atop the actions needed to trigger those developments.

* 80/20 Rule -- If every 80/20 rule lined up in single formation they would all be parading to the battle hymn of mother necessity; that the perfect is the enemy of the good. In our marching orders action is the most telling of all metadata elements because it reveals those deepest and fleeting mysteries of all uncharted KM waters -- who wrote this sucker and who was their intended audience? Figure out that side of the shipping manifesto and: (1) you're 80% of the way from content supply to knowledge demand; and (2) your cargo gets unpacked. Why? Because it has an identity that speaks to users.

* Disambiguation -- Probably there is no greater praise for verbs than giving some long-delayed respect they deserve for disambiguation. Next time you hear yourself mutter: "use it in a sentence" tell me the word that drives you to the home of understanding isn't a verb. And while it may be their job that's no reason to overlook their vast powers of clarification.

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