The Zen of Systems and Networks


My own work with Enterprise Frameworks and Networks has led me to come up with the following table.  It describes the Nodes and Links in a Complete System Network.  I am saying that the Nodes representing Goals, People, Time, Locations, Code, Data, Qualities and Quantities can all be represented as Scale-free Networks and that each of these Node Networks require only one datatype.  I am also saying that there are only three types of links in networks: recursive links within a set, multiple links between sets, single links between sets.  I know of no case where this has been attempted in the manner I am attempting to represent it.


If you have been following my blog you are aware that I have been struggling for a long time to come up with a framework and a clean terminological set to describe systems.  I think I have come one step closer to that goal today.  The table above describes a Fact composed of eight Nodes (first white row illustrating entities) and the Links (last three white rows illustrating recursive, multiple and singular relationships) for each of the System Networks (Interrogative columns).  One of the interesting aspects of this System Network Model is every Fact is composed of a Unique Set of all eight Nodes.  However, all the Nodes in one Fact do not have to have Links to all the Nodes in another Fact.  Each Node within a Fact is independent regarding its Links.  Therefore you have a single set of System Facts with each Fact containing a single set of Interrogative Nodes each connected by their respective Link Networks.

I have recently been writing with the intent to challenge centrism on any one of these networks and advocate a more integrated view. I still remember dealing with data centrism, event centrism, user centrism, goal centrism, program centrism and schedule centrism over the course of my career. All of them have a role to play. My insight into all of these Nouns being Linked by Verbs in only three ways required me to look at all of the Enterprise Architectures and disengtangle the Nouns, Links and Verbs from the reasoning and representations that extend back beyond computing itself.

The Data Model below is a hybrid of Relational Models and Dimensional Models.  I call this an Associational Model.  It is using Relational Architecture to represent it.  However, I think that an alternate Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) architecture called the Associative Model of Data would be better suited to the task.  I am using relational representation as I am still trying to communicate with a community only familiar with Relational technology.

The first thing to note about this model is Links are represented by Associations.  Associations link two Nouns using a Verb.  What is interesting about this model is every Verb, Association, Noun and Fact is unique.  The vertical connections are Many to Many relationships which allow two vertically adjacent Verbs, Associations or Nouns to have multiple unique relationships between each other.  What this means is there are no integrity problems (duplicate values) as the system network would enforce uniqueness.


The premise of this model is that the Nodes are not dimensions at all.  I am rejecting the traditional concept of dimensionality instead I am saying that there are three dimensions of Links: recursive, multiple and singular.  All we perceive are Facts, Nodes and the Links between them.

So you could come away with the following Zen koan:

entity without entity,

source without source,

path without path,

target without target,

size without size,

dimension without dimension.


Systema: Seven Hats, Seven Links


Parable of the Watchmakers

There once were two watchmakers, named Hora and Tempus, who made very fine watches. The phones in their workshops rang frequently; new customers were constantly calling them. However, Hora prospered while Tempus became poorer and poorer. In the end, Tempus lost his shop. What was the reason behind this?

The watches consisted of about 1000 parts each. The watches that Tempus made were designed such that, when he had to put down a partly assembled watch (for instance, to answer the phone), it immediately fell into pieces and had to be reassembled from the basic elements.

Hora had designed his watches so that he could put together subassemblies of about ten components each. Ten of these subassemblies could be put together to make a larger sub- assembly. Finally, ten of the larger subassemblies constituted the whole watch. Each subassembly could be put down without falling apart.


For the longest time I have been playing with interrogatives and associations.  Now, I think I finally have a complete representation and taxonomy.

Abstractly, it looks like the following:


Concretely, it appears as follows:


As I mentioned in my earlier post, I was not satisfied with a six interrogative, four association model.  Consequently, I worked to resolve this and came up with the table above with the interrogative columns (seven hats) and the associative rows (seven coats).  I also came up with the data model below:


My hypothesis is, used correctly, the above data model can address all relational/dimensional requirements.

Related Posts:

Framework for a Real Enterprise

It was Peter Drucker who revealed undeniably that business was a science that could lead to predictable results.  The way he did so was by collecting and systematizing all the knowledge he could gather on the subject and then testing hypotheses.  After much deliberation on the science of systems and the science of business.  I present the Physics Framework above and the Enterprise Framework below.  As one physics Nobel laureate said, “If you aren’t doing physics, you’re stamp collecting!”

I am working to refine my framework table for a lay audience. It is a vocabulary for a business system. Like the Linnean system, by using the intersection of the row and column (two terms) I can identify any operation of the system. Still needs work, but its getting there.

It is based on an associative (node and link) architecture not a relational (table and relationships) architecture.

At first glance this might be regarded as a Zachman Framework.  The columns by convention are called focuses.  The rows called perspectives.  The interrogatives make up the column header.  John Zachman offered some poorly chosen row headers which I’ve replaced.  There are two major differences.  First, it requires an additional focus as part of the enterprise, the Market which is measured in potential profit.  It’s time for the academics and bureaucrats to stop turning up their noses to the source of their existence:  a market that will pay in currency to fatten their budgets.  Second, REVISE, the nodes, are something obvious to Einstein; RELATE, the links, something obvious to Drucker (remember the links are verbs); REPORT, the node and link attributes, should be obvious to Thomas Jefferson; RECORD, the databases, to Carnegie; REGARD, the datatypes, to Turing; REPOSE, the ordinality, which remembers whats related to what, REVEAL, the cardinality, full of exceptions to the enterprise.

Six Hats, Six Coats and Knowledge Management

I was passed this link to a free Knowledge Management Course by a friend today.

I gave the entire course a read (it is not that long) and concluded that there was only one thing that the course covered that is not covered by the Six Hats, Six Coats as it has been explained so far. The issue is valuation, how do we know the cost/benefit of any fact. Otherwise, the authors wave the term “knowledge” around with little restraint to the point of its being meaningless. If they had it their way, everything would be knowledge. (I’ve been known to rant that everything is objects.)


To perform valuation of the Six Hats, Six Coats Framework, facts are each of the Six Coats columns: Motive, Locale, Object, Method, Person and Moment. Each of these can be reduced to their atomic granularity at the Blue Hat perspective row. One additional row can be added to the bottom, which is the benefit per manipulation. Each of the Six Hats is a row and can be accumulated in a seventh column, which is the cost per perspective. Each cell of the Six Hats, Six Coats Framework has a cost when it is created, but the benefit accumulates with each manipulation of its column at the Blue Hat level and is rolled up to the appropriate cell.

The rest of the Knowledge Management concepts are covered by the Six Hats, Six Coats Framework.

The Six Hats, Six Coats Framework provides not only knowledge. The Six Hats provide:

  1. Green Hat: Wisdom. Conceptualization. Creativity.
  2. Yellow Hat: Knowledge. Contextualization. Relativity.
  3. White Hat: Information. Logicalization. Optimicity.
  4. Black Hat: Data. Physicalization. Pessimicity.
  5. Red Hat: Regulation. Humanization. Anthropicity.
  6. Blue Hat: Conduction. Detectors and Effectors. Synchronicity.

The Six Hats, Six Coats Framework gives a clear definition of knowledge. Meta-Knowledge is the modeled relationships between the each of the entities within a system. This is the entity relationship diagrams for the facts. Knowledge is the actual references between each of the instances within a system. This is the actual database containing the facts. A rule relationship model, a node relationship model, a data relationship model, a function relationship model, a person relationship model and an event relationship model are meta-knowledge. Rule instance references, node instance references, data instance references, function instance references, person instance references and event instance references are knowledge.

“Mentifacts” and “Sociofacts” are obtuse terms. Person associations are extragroup, intergroup, intragroup, extrapersonal, interpersonal and intrapersonal. They are different perspectives a human takes to interaction and the adoption of facts from another system. Motive, locale, object, method, person and moment are all artifacts, better termed entities.

The definitions the course offers: “Know-what”, “Know-why”, “Know-how”, “Know-who” is incomplete and ill defined.

  1. Yellow Hat, Green Coat is Know-why. Contextual Motive.
  2. Yellow Hat, Yellow Coat is Know-where. Contextual Locale.
  3. Yellow Hat, White Coat is Know-what. Contextual Object.
  4. Yellow Hat, Black Coat is Know-how. Contextual Method.
  5. Yellow Hat, Red Coat is Know-who. Contextual Person.
  6. Yellow Hat, Blue Coat is Know-when. Contextual Moment.

Knowledge management is not simply Informal and Formal. Knowledge Management can be Implicit, Explicit, Tacit and Sonit. Implicit knowledge management handles knowledge that is documented and unchanging in the organization. Explicit knowledge management handles knowledge that is documented and changing. Tacit knowledge management handles knowledge that is undocumented and unchanging. Sonit knowledge management handles knowledge that is undocumented and changing.

The Six Hats, Six Coats Framework does not use the metaphor of a factory for knowledge processing. Instead the framework uses a system lifecycle of induction and deduction. The system repeats, refines, records, reports, relates and revises input; and revises, relates, reports, records, refines and repeats output. Only during the relate phase is input or output knowledge.

The concept of knowledge claims, I found intriguing, but confused between what is meta-knowledge and what is knowledge. I could only conclude that a knowledge claim is really a meta-knowledge claim. Validation of references, knowledge, is protected by referential integrity. A meta-knowledge claim would be validated by a corroboration of exceptions.

The quality of meta-knowledge is a question of how well the relationships for the dimensions handle input and output. If the probability of no exceptions is high the quality of the meta-knowledge is high. A change in context is a change in interacting systems and will affect the quality of an entire system’s performance not just one of its dimensions or of only its knowledge.

Validation of a system is not only knowledge validation. Validation of Conduction, Regulation, Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom are all necessary excercises. Because no system is completely Implicit, Explicit, Tacit or Sonit there will always be room for normal and exceptional input and output that has not been accounted for.

Knowledge has intrapolative predictive capabilities. Wisdom has extrapolative predictive capabilities. From this course Knowledge Management appears to know little about systems at all.

The course also attempts to use the three layer ANSI model of World, Knowledge, Meta-Knowledge to describe itself. I have no problem with that. However, because of the poor definition of knowledge in the first place the author begins fantasizing about endless additional layers. I have only found there needs to be three layers in every case I’ve tested. There is the world, the referential and the relational layers.

The sixth lesson of the course talks about innovation as the goal of Knowledge Management. I beg to differ. Innovation is a completely different perspective in the Six Hats, Six Coats Framework. Innovation is the Green Hat, conceptualization perspective. Knowledge assists conceptualization, however conceptualization is concerned with the entities of each of the fact dimensions, not the relationships. Relationships are interpolative, they can only exist between entities that exist. Entities are extrapolative, they can come into existence out of nothing and do not depend upon relationships to exist.

As far as the seventh section, Metrics, goes there is ultimately a cost/benefit ratio. All other metrics are irrelevant if the cost/benefit is done correctly. Cost is the expenditure required to build each cell, each model, of the system framework down to the atomic level. Benefit is the profit gained from each manipulation of the system at the atomic level.

“Knowledge Transfer” is the ability of your system to induct another system and then deduct with a profitable outcome.

You don’t need a Knowledge Management Team. You need a System Modeling Team and the Six Hats, Six Coats Framework. “Everything is a system” holds up to scrutiny better than any knowledge management claim.