Simplicity can be considered relative to a perspective. When a perspective is weakly developed, a model representing fine distinctions in the perspective may be considered as complex (as the community of knowing lack the ability to differentiate between the nuances). With a weakly developed perspective on modeling, the modeling languages had to be simple.
The preference for simple models makes sense when considering the actual use as structuring devices. With more detailed and complex models, the ease of human interpretation might have been reduced.
The use of concepts from their professional language also influences the model impression: The meaning attributed to a model depends heavily upon the preunderstanding that the interpreting actor has of the domain in question. The models can be seen as devices that are used to structure knowledge that the actors already have. The models consist of pegs for the pre-understanding of the interpreting actor.
A reason that lack of formality was not problematic may be that the models were intended for human interpretation, and although a few of them were digitally represented (in the Web version of the strategy), they were not digital models. Computers were not intended to interpret them (with the exception of the "clickable" M7). Human actors interpret according to their perspective, and with a strong perspective, actors are likely to agree more upon interpretations than with a weakly developed perspective. Hence, formality is in a sense implicit when creating models of widely agreed upon domains.
The "definition of terms" problem can be explained by seeing the terminology as a part of the vocabulary of a community of knowing. The actors defined a vocabulary that was more precise than their own understanding. Hence, they were not able to use the language consistently. The incidence described on page , where one actor removes the qualifier terms key, core, etc. can be interpreted as a way to remove the subtle distinctions in the language. It is also a consequence of reflection 51; questioning the need for the nuances.
The associated problem of "constructing appropriate terms" could easily have been predicted if taking the meaning of a term or phrase to depend upon the actors' preunderstanding. Meaning is local to a community of knowing. To associate only one specific meaning with a term is not practically feasible.
An immediate question concerns the consequences of experiencing problems with terminology. A negative consequence was resource consumption, as a lot of time was spent on discussing alternative definitions. Another negative consequence was misunderstanding when used "incorrectly" (e.g., the dynamic document incidence on page ). A positive consequence was that the underlying concepts were discussed thoroughly, and probably more thoroughly than if there were no problems with defining the corresponding terms. The discussions contributed to the complexification of the developers' perspective, and in a sense, they were unavoidable, as the nature of the project were of a type that requires perspective making (the perspective was weakly developed, as stated on page ).
An observation was that there were always actors available to clarify and restate the message 51; the terms can be considered embedded in a communication process. Hence, when an actor had problems with understanding a term, he could ask a question and receive immediate feedback. Disseminating the final deliverable without this embedding communication process might involve a more significant risk for misunderstandings (as was observed when receiving feedback on the final deliverable from the future users, page ).
The relevance of terminology to enterprise modeling is that both concern
description of some domain. Whether this description is in terms of boxes
and arrows or text is of less importance. In addition, text plays a central
role in most enterprise models, conveying much of the information.
|In figure 6.10, there is a box labeled "Gas logistics". The form of the box indicates that it is an activity or process, just like all the other boxes. What makes it different from the other boxes is the label -- "Gas logistics" -- and location (in the sequence of activities). The real world activities that are covered by the short phrase "Gas logistics" are so complex and comprehensive that two interpretations beyond all doubt will be substantially different. To define unambiguously the meaning of gas logistics is neither feasible.|
Explanations typically included a description of the model elements and a sequential account tying the model elements together. The sequential account followed relations representing cause-and-effect, time, flow, etc. An example of the use of explanations occurred at WS3, when the WG Gas leader presented the "as-is" and "to-be" model.
Explanations are integrated parts of enterprise models, as they directly influence the interpretation of the model. In the Web version of the strategy, only the models were made available to the reader. Explanations were to a large degree left out. From a theoretical point of view, this leads to a situation where even more of the meaning attributed to the model depends upon the pre-understanding that the interpreting actor has of the model elements. When the model is embedded in a communication process, the lack of an explicit explanation of the model is not as vital, as there are always explanations available from other actors. When the model is distributed without accompanying explanation, the consequences may be more serious, as interpretation is left to the model reader. Seeing the model as a boundary object, the explanation aids in the perspective taking process, ensuring a more correct interpretation of the perspective.
Examples of metaphors that were created and used in the strategy project are (group of actors in parenthesis):
Seven of the stories were included in the Web version of the strategy document, but none in the paper version. The stories were provided stand-alone, i.e., they were not integrated with the presentation in any way, and the readers would have to make associations by themselves. However, the examples were valuable in the strategy development phase as means to exemplify assessments and claims that were made during discussions. Hence, stories were used to validate elements of the strategy, making them sensible to the readers.
The stories are comparable to enterprise models as they both are descriptions of the enterprise. Hence, they may play a similar role.
Boland and Tenkasi (1995) explicitly include narratives as a central element in their theory of perspective making and perspective taking in communities of knowing. Narratives are considered to be central in making experiences meaningful and sensible by framing them and committing them to memory (ibid.:357).
Concerning the strategy development method, the method foil M2 represents an early version, while the M6 model describes a final version of the method. In between, there were a number of proposals for alternative steps and sequences. At WS2, which can be considered the main event concerning the generation of intermediate artifacts, seven slightly different approaches to strategy development were presented.
Also at WS2, the discussion of future core competencies resulted in 12 different illustrations of a set of future core competencies, and most of them were developed at the workshop (a few of them had been developed in the work groups in advance).
The development and use of intermediate artifacts can be seen as a means to complexify the perspective of the community of knowing, i.e., as an element in the perspective making process. The artifacts were informal and often incomplete with respect to the issue under consideration, and can be seen as externalization of an immature understanding of the issue (a weakly developed perspective).
Of the primary artifacts, M1, M2, M3, M6 and M7 were observed used as boundary objects. M1 and M2 were used by the PG at WS3 to inform about the project, M3 and M7 were included in the Web version, and M6 was presented by a WG leader at WS3 to illustrate how the WGs had worked.
Of the subsidiary artifacts, the definitions (terminology) and seven of the stories were included in the Web version of the document. In addition, explanations were given orally, but they are not considered as boundary objects, as they are not suitable for studies (unless manifested using a durable medium, e.g., taped on video).
None of the intermediate artifacts were boundary objects, but that was neither the intention. Intermediate artifacts played a role mainly in the perspective making process, not in perspective taking.