Business Design: A Misnomer


I just came from IDEO’s Tim Brown’s blog, Design Thinking, post on “A Curriculum for Business Design” and I can see his want to emphasize the need for design, but he misses the point.

I think the word “design” is becoming too much of a “to a hammer, every problem is a nail” conundrum. Every problem is not a design problem.  Business is very diverse.  What I would like to see is the following curriculum:

Business Science Inductive (Problems and Visions)
Business Science Deductive (Entrepreneurship and Leadership)
Business Design (Climates and Trends)
Business Engineering (Location and Movement)
Business Skill (Innovation and Professionalism)
Business Training (Imitation and Apprenticeship)
Business Education (Memorization and Theory)
Business Networking (Fraternity and Sorority)
Business Products (Culturing and Manufacturing)
Business Services (Sharing and Caring)
Business Marketing (Branding and Pricing)
Business Transactions (Closing and Accounting)

Design plays a part in solving every problem, but not every part of a problem is a design problem.

Let’s instill the diversity of business with design as part of the solution, not the only solution.

Oh, and if you call a problem an “issue”, that is another misnomer.  Problems are scientific and can be solved.  Issues are political and can never be solved.


Databases: Structured Associative Model


For years now I have been struggling with Relational DBMS technology and Associative DBMS technology attempting to get them to do what I want.  In my first efforts, Relational models were structurally restrictive, Dimensional models were unable to grow organically, EAV models are incompatible with relational architecture.  I came upon Simon Williams Associative Model of Data and although enthralled with its potential I found it too had limitations.  It was semi-structured and allowed for too much flexibility.  25 years in Information Technology had taught me that there was a single standard classification system for setting up databases not a plethora of ontologies.  I was determined to find the theoretical structure and was not concerned with hardware limitations, database architecture, abilties of current query languages or any other constraints.

The Associative Model of Data had made the difference in liberating me from Relational and Dimensional thinking.  A traditional ERD of the Associative Model of Data I at first thought would look like the following:


Basically what you have is a Schema composed of Nodes with Node Associations through Verbs and Associations with Nodes Attributions through Verbs. The range of Node Entities, Verb Entities, Association Entities and Attribution Entities are endless.  As well the population of the Schema has an unlimited dataset of natural key values.  I have been challenged by Relational database specialists and SQL experts regarding the viability of this model within current limitations, however their arguments are irrelevant.  What is important is the logical validity of the model, not the physical validity.

After receiving the criticism I decided to revisit the model in order to simplify it.  I went over Simon William’s explanations of his model and its application and found I could reduce it to the following:


This was profoundly simpler and better reflected the Associative Model of Data’s Architecture.  But even with this simpler architecture I was not satisfied.  I felt that the Associatve Model although giving the benefit of explicitly defining the associations was a tabula rasa.  Research has shown that tabula rasa’s are contrary to the behavior of the finite physical universe.  There is an intermediate level of nature and nuture.  And this is what I sought to model.


When I first encountered the Zachman Framework, something about it struck me in a very profound way.  I could see there was something fundamental in its description of systems, however I felt that the metaphors that John Zachman used were wrong because they themselves lacked a fundamental simplicity.  The consequences of this were that those who studied under Zachman ultimately could not agree on what he was talking about.  Also the “disciplines” that Zachman’s Framework generated were continually reinventing the wheel.  Zachman had created a world of vertical and horizontal stovepipes.  To further the confusion Zachman refused to conceive of a methodology based upon his framework.  Consequently, there was no way to determine what the priorities were in creating a system.  I call this the Zachman Clusterfuck.

Zachman’s work spawned years of work for me.  I could see that systems had a fundamental structure, but I could not agree with Zachman.  Focuses and Perspectives were useless terms.  The construction metaphor was useless.  I read anything I could get my hands on dealing with systems, methodologies, modeling, networks and a broad range of other literature across the disciplines.  Out of this came a set of conclusions:

  1. There were a fundamental set of Noun Entities
  2. There were a fundamental set of Verb Entities
  3. There were a fundamental set of Association Entities
  4. There was a clear order in which the Nouns were addressed
  5. There was a clear order in which the Verbs were executed
  6. The structure was fractal
  7. The content was a scale-free network

I made some attempts at creating the vocabulary and experimented with this new Structured Thinking Language.  However, the real break came when I worked with John Boyd’s OODA Loop:


The OODA Loop revealed a governing structure for the methodology and guided my way into the following hybrid relational/dimensional/associational model I call the Structured Associative Model of Data:


One of the key things this model demonstrates is the sequence followed by the OODA Loop.  Starting from the top, each dimension set spawns the next.  Choices are created from the dimensions.  There is no centrism to this model which is an inherent flaw in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Event based architecture, Data centric architecture, Goal-Directed Design, Rule based systems among others.  The stove pipes of Focuses and Pespectives disappear by reasserting a clear order of priorities and dependencies for achieving success.  The model also supports bottom up inductive as well as top down deductive sequencing.  This will make the system able to reconfigure to handle exceptions.

Some of the things I have learned in designing this model include the realization that unit defines datatype and that all measures are variable character string text.  This is because any displayed value is only a symbolic representation of the actual quantity.  If operations are to be performed on measures they are converted to the correct type as part of the operation.  I also recognized that Unit was necessary to define the scale and scalability of the system.  Further, it became apparent that analog calculations should not be practiced.  Every value should be treated as discrete and aggregated.

Another aspect of this system is the inclusion of currency and amount.  I have been critical of Zachman and academics for their hypocrisy regarding the economics of systems.  All systems have a cost and a benefit and they are measurable in currency.  Contrary to the reasoning of the majority, every decision is ultimately economic.

Tim Brown of IDEO has coined the term “Design Thinking” and has been toying with the concept for some time.  Many designers dwell on the two dimensional concept of divergence and convergence as modes of thought.  If we look at my model, divergence is the creation of choice while convergence is selection of choice.  There is no alteration or deletion of choice in my model as history is preserved.

Now what you have is a unencumbered framework with a clear methodological sequence.


Welcome to the Cognitary Universe.

Design: Buddhist Framework and Czerepak Framework


Buddhism’s “Eightfold Path” is a thoroughly thought out system that addresses all the interrogatives. In this post I will give a brief elaboration of what I mean.

In my work with the Czerepak Framework I presented the following:

Trivergent Thinking

Found and Fiat

Divergent Thinkng

Future and Flow

Univergent Thinking

Function and Form

Convergent Thinking

Fashion and Foot

Now, I am going to take the above structure and apply it to the Buddhist Framework, The Eight Fold Path. Let’s look at the path as it is first:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

Buddhism states that there is no clear order, but I disagree. Now let’s reorder it according to the Czerepak Framework:

Trivergent Thinking


Right View

Right view simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realise the Four Noble Truth. As such, right view is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right view is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence. Instead, right view is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the intuitive insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. Since our view of the world forms our thoughts and our actions, right view yields right thoughts and right actions.


Right Concentration

Right concentration, refers to the development of a mental force that occurs in natural consciousness, although at a relatively low level of intensity, namely concentration. Concentration in this context is described as one-pointedness of mind, meaning a state where all mental faculties are unified and directed onto one particular object. Right concentration for the purpose of the eightfold path means wholesome concentration, i.e. concentration on wholesome thoughts and actions. The Buddhist method of choice to develop right concentration is through the practice of meditation. The meditating mind focuses on a selected object. It first directs itself onto it, then sustains concentration, and finally intensifies concentration step by step. Through this practice it becomes natural to apply elevated levels concentration also in everyday situations.

Divergent Thinking


Right Mindfulness

Right mindfulness is the controlled and perfected faculty of cognition. It is the mental ability to see things as they are, with clear consciousness. Usually, the cognitive process begins with an impression induced by perception, or by a thought, but then it does not stay with the mere impression. Instead, we almost always conceptualise sense impressions and thoughts immediately. We interpret them and set them in relation to other thoughts and experiences, which naturally go beyond the facticity of the original impression. The mind then posits concepts, joins concepts into constructs, and weaves those constructs into complex interpretative schemes. All this happens only half consciously, and as a result we often see things obscured. Right mindfulness is anchored in clear perception and it penetrates impressions without getting carried away. Right mindfulness enables us to be aware of the process of conceptualisation in a way that we actively observe and control the way our thoughts go. Buddha accounted for this as the four foundations of mindfulness: 1. contemplation of the body, 2. contemplation of feeling (repulsive, attractive, or neutral), 3. contemplation of the state of mind, and 4. contemplation of the phenomena.


Right Effort

Right effort can be seen as a prerequisite for the other principles of the path. Without effort, which is in itself an act of will, nothing can be achieved, whereas misguided effort distracts the mind from its task, and confusion will be the consequence. Mental energy is the force behind right effort; it can occur in either wholesome or unwholesome states. The same type of energy that fuels desire, envy, aggression, and violence can on the other side fuel self-discipline, honesty, benevolence, and kindness. Right effort is detailed in four types of endeavours that rank in ascending order of perfection: 1. to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states, 2. to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen, 3. to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen, and 4. to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen.

Univergent Thinking


Right Action

Right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. Again, the principle is explained in terms of abstinence: right action means 1. to abstain from harming sentient beings, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently, 2. to abstain from taking what is not given, which includes stealing, robbery, fraud, deceitfulness, and dishonesty, and 3. to abstain from sexual misconduct. Positively formulated, right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, to respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others. Further details regarding the concrete meaning of right action can be found in the Precepts.


Right Speech

Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.

Convergent Thinking


Right Livelihood

Right livelihood means that one should earn one’s living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained legally and peacefully. The Buddha mentions four specific activities that harm other beings and that one should avoid for this reason: 1. dealing in weapons, 2. dealing in living beings (including raising animals for slaughter as well as slave trade and prostitution), 3. working in meat production and butchery, and 4. selling intoxicants and poisons, such as alcohol and drugs. Furthermore any other occupation that would violate the principles of right speech and right action should be avoided.


Right Intention

While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.

As you can see, although there some minor variation in order, there is a very solid correlation with the Czerepak Framework as a whole. Whether it was a man called Buddha or a collection of person’s who composed this path, it is obvious that it is a complete system framework.

I want to give credit to for their high quality presentation of philosophies and religions and from who I quoted the text on Buddhism.


Universe: The Czerepak Framework

I just visited the archive of Tim Brown’s Design Thinking Blog and came across the following post:

Definitions of design thinking

Tim Brown » 07 September 2008 » In design thinking »

In my HBR article I gave a ‘definition’ of design thinking. It was:

Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.

On reflection this is a narrow description that focuses on design thinking’s role within business. The next sentence that I wrote.“….design thinking converts need into demand” , which I borrowed from Peter Drucker, broadens things out a bit but still assumes an economic motivation.

I am grappling with two questions as I think about this.

1. Is there a general definition of design thinking?

2. Is it useful to have one?

I think Tim has something very good here and suggest that the following would be a further breakdown of his classification:

  • Viable: Business
    • How Much: Quality
    • How Many: Quanitity
  • Feasible: Technology
    • What: Material
    • How: Process
  • Desirable: Human
    • Why: Goal
    • Who: People

Obviously, if you have been following my blog, you can see the same pattern appearing and reappearing as we explore other’s concepts.  The six interrogatives continue to reassert themselves.  However, I think I finally nailed one more aspect on the head.  I hate to say it, but it came to me in a dream about working on a programming project:

  • Reliable:
    • Where: Location
    • When: Timing

Quantity and Quality are two aspects of design/system thinking that are continually overlooked by academics and specialists, but not business people.

Interestingly enough this perspective is not new.  Clayton M. Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma discusses a four part model that fits nicely with this:

  1. Availability
  2. Compatibility
  3. Reliability
  4. Cost

I consider, Clayton’s the most empirical ordering.  Consequently, I would like to mesh Tim’s, Clayton’s and my perspective into the following:

  1. Feasibility: Technology
    1. How
    2. What
  2. Compatibility: Personality
    1. Why
    2. Who
  3. Availability: Market
    1. Where
    2. When
  4. Viability:  Business
    1. How Much
    2. How Many

Now, looking at this I am reminded of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Tipping Point, and it adds the following character to the model:

  1. Feasability: Mavin
    1. How: Processes
    2. What: Materials
  2. Compatibility: Connector
    1. Why: Goals
    2. Who: People
  3. Availability: Salesman
    1. Where: Locations
    2. When: Schedules
  4. Viability: Customer
    1. How Much: Costs
    2. How Many: Units

Universe: A Multi-Dimensional Medium

Let’s do a thought experiment.  I want to take design thinking and abstract it to a system.


Imagine that there are no solids, liquids, gases or plasmas or particles.  That the Universe is a fluid medium swirling between equilibrium and non-equilibrium in multiple dimensions.  What we perceive to be solid, liquid, gas or plasma are not states, but intersections of dimensions that describe interdimensional vortices.  Energy is the intensity of a vortice.  Mass is a vortice of a set of dimensions.  Light is a vortice of a set of dimensions.  All of the particles are vortices of sets of dimensions.  Each influence the other based upon which dimensions they are composed of.

R. Buckminster Fuller clearly states in his work that we should perceive the systems as finite four dimensional spheres.

There are only four fundamental states:  vortice verge, vortice converge, vortice emerge, vortice diverge.


Everything we perceive are combinations of these vortice states.  The states are +/- vortice yaw, +/- vortice pitch, +/- vortice roll.

If any vortice is spiraling toward you it is positive, if any vortice is spiraling away from you it is negative.  By definition, no vortice can be stationary with respect to you.

There are only eight fundamental vortices: How, What, Why, Who, When, Where, How Much, How Many.

This gives us the following eight vortice, four state table:


Take the time to look at the terms defining each of the white cells in the table.  Each row is the addition of a dimensional vortice.  For example: Each additional “when” vortice is another separate clock.  Each additional “where” vortice is another separate radius.  All of them are factors in a system or a design.

And even this representation is inaccurate.  If we consider fractal geometry and chaos theory, there are no points, no straight lines, no arcs, no planes, no circles, no polygons, no polyhedrons, no spheres, only vortices that are above, within or below our range of perception.  Space cannot be filled with any geometric shape.  Everything is composed of vortices–spirals.

We have to abandon the flat world, flat space models we currently cling to.  The world and the universe are not infinite planes.  The world is a finite island of non-equilibrium in a predominantly equilibrium universe.

And that is it, the Czerepak (Chair-eh-pak) Framework.

Copyright (c) 2008 Grant Czerepak.  All rights reserved.