Purpose of enterprise modeling

It’s probably worth defining enterprise modeling in the context that it is being used here, as well as describing the purpose for which it is used.

Definition

Enterprise modeling – the science, art and practice of creating models of enterprises, whether of an existing enterprise or of an enterprise being imagined and envisioned

Here, enterprise and modeling are intended as per the earlier post about the power of enterprise modeling on this blog.

Purpose

The purpose of enterprise modeling in the context of enterprise-modeling.org is to create models which enable the participants in an enterprise to better understand how the enterprise:

  • operates
  • should operate (ie is intended to operate)
  • could operate (eg. with particular changes or improvements)

Typically, the purpose revolves around a desire to improve the performance of the enterprise, to express the proposed model(s) of operation which it could pursue, to select the most effective, implementable model and to support the investment decision making process which identifies the cost of making the changes to the enterprise and the outcomes and benefits of making the change.

Power of enterprise-modeling

There are a number of interesting facets to enterprise modeling that make it a powerful, value adding tool.  These can be explained by considering the name – enterprise-modeling.

Enterprise

This is a powerful term in its own right, because it enables the users to determine the scope of the enterprise they wish to model.  An enterprise could be:

  • A defined subset of an organisation
  • A complete line of business in an organisation
  • A complete organisation
  • A collaboration or partnership between two or more organisations
  • An industry or industry sector
  • A nation

In effect, it can be any “endeavour”, “mutual undertaking” or “enterprise” that a group of people or participants choose to embark upon.

Models

This, too, is a powerful term.  We all have mental models – the constructs in our brains of the world we observe and live in.  All that we have learned is represented in “models”.  Each experience offers us the opportunity to change, adjust, improve our mental models.

When we work together in an enterprise, we find that it is helpful to be working within certain structures and guidelines.  These may be expressed explicitly or perhaps simply adopted implicitly.  When we want to achieve improved performance, we find ways to adjust and enhance the organisational capabilities, and in doing so change the model of operation, and oftentimes, make more explicit aspects of our agreed, consistent, underlying model of operation.  In making our models more explicit, we enable each participant to modify their mental model of how we work together and hence to gain greater alignment in mental models, and therefore hopefully, in shared behaviours, leading to improved enterprise performance.

Many of us have had exposure to the use of models to represent things.  Hence, it is not a foreign concept to use and see the value in developing and using models to express how our enterprise does work, should work or could work.

Lastly, a key factor motivating the use of this expression in favour of enterprise architecture derives from:

  • modeling is likely to be more readily understood and accepted
  • modeling reflects a key part of what is done – creating maps of how organisations work or should work – helping others who “design” the new, improved models of operation – and, thereby, not confusing or challenging roles wherein others in an organisation continue to design the enterprise, but now in a more informed manner through a shared and improved understanding arising from use of models

Modeling

And lastly, the wonder of the English language.  Not only can we use modeling to mean “the making of models”, we can also use it to mean “the demonstrating of models”, so it brings with it the sense of modeling the intended behaviour of an enterprise, bringing into play aspects of behaviour and culture, which are essential perspectives to consider when seeking to improve enterprise performance.

What’s important about these values?

Integrity – models are used to aid understanding and decisions – fundamentally flawed models do not help improve understanding or the quality of decisions!

Clarity – we all have models : mental models, there are currently over 6 billion mental models roaming the planet.   In order to work together more successfully, we seek to achieve alignment of our mental models – that involves making them explicit so that they can be communicated – and that requires clarity of communication!

Respect – as we engage in aligning our models, we need to do it respectfully – no model is perfect, there is no correct model.  Multiple perspectives help us better understand the entity we are modelling.  Appropriate respect should be offered for other models, and in return respect for our own will be granted!

Openness – models need to be shared, not locked up and hidden – opening them up to test and challenge offers the opportunity for refinement and improvement, as well as shared understanding!

Reciprocity – the sharing of a model is a gift, the best we can do is to offer a gift in return.  Engagement in a reciprocal manner builds trust and capacity to explore more deeply!

Empowerment – providing a model and enabling enhanced understanding empowers others.  It allows them to use it to our mutual advantage.  Command and control should be avoided.  Empowering is encouraged!

Learning – a commitment to learning is a commitment to growth and development – of oneself and of others.  It also constitutes an acceptance of failure and a recognition of the opportunity to learn from failure.  It requires forgiveness of self and others.

Creativity – improving the way we do things, creating models of new ways of doing things, requires creativity and imagination!

Courage – the courage to live out these values, to model them, to make them our behaviours, to be a leader, and to admit when we are wrong or have failed to live up to them!