Design: Business Design


In an earlier post I was reflecting on the concept of a curriculum shared by Tim Brown of IDEO on his Design Thinking Blog.  At that time I shared a list of areas I felt would compose a curriculum.  I have continued to reflect on this and I have come up with the following table:


The rows in the above table are the market segments the columns are the market segment actions.

12 Monkeys


I have been a data designer now for over 25 years.  And after all of that I finally understand what it is I do for a living.  I classify.

There are really only about twelve things you really can do in life.

Let’s mix a little Latin and Anglo-Saxon:

1.  RECREATE – Archics- gowns – astric, stellic and planic
2.  REEQUATE – Scinics – knowns – static, electric and magnetic
3.  RENOVATE – Signics – trends – aeric, atomic and chemic
4.  REGULATE – Engic – trains – terric, mechanic and hydric
5.  REPEAT – Technics – skills – sidic ,desic and curic
6.  RECORD – Clerics – desks – indic, findic and sortic
7.  RESPOND – Servics – serves – sertic, altric and delic
8.  RESTOCK – Prodics – prods – stantic, storic and trievic
9.  RETAIL – Markics – sells – quare, qualic and quantic
10. RESPEND – Pursics – chases – evic, costic and benefic
11. REFUND – Bancs – loans – profic, debic and credic
12. REGENT – Regics – rules – natric, metric and petric

Ultimately we are all stamp collectors.

DemocraNet: Scale-free CPUs, HFGW Networks, Associational DBMSs, Iconic Languages, AlwaysOns and Laypeople


I came across this article in regarding a medical iconic language. This lead me to think about iconic languages in general.

What would happen if we developed non-text languages where icons were not just “terms” but were used as “definitions” as well?

Consider having:

Iconic vocabularies.
Iconic grammars.
Iconic syntax.
Iconic linguistics.
Iconic dictionaries.
Iconic thesaurii.
Iconic wikis.
Iconic semiotics.
Iconic animation.
Iconic context.
Iconic databases.
Iconic functions.
Iconic organization.
Iconic networks.
Iconic events.
Iconic fonts.
Iconic classics.
Iconic metrics.
Iconic audio.
Iconic video.
Iconic mechanio (pressure)
Iconic olfio (smell)
Iconic gustio (taste)
Iconic thermio (heat)
Iconic nocio (pain)
Iconic equilibrio (balance and acceleration)
Iconic proprio (body position)

Such languages already exist. Chinese Hanyu for example. But what if a new global iconic language were developed?

In my reading I am discovering that even words are treated by our minds iconically as symbolic clusters. If the first and last letter of a word is correct the remaining letters in the word can be in any order. In fact, we do the same things with words themselves. We create word clusters and shuffle them around to create sentences. I think language does not have the formula Chomsky came up with using random sets of words arranged syntactically. Words are symbols and sentence fragments are symbols that we connect together. We do the same thing with lists which are basically paragraph fragments. All these fragments are are arranged according to the rules of a scale-free network not a hard wired linguistic structure. I think that would shake Steven Pinker up.

The thing that is necessary to point out is literacy and numeracy does not make us any more or less intelligent. It is a symbolic system like any other that trains us to think in certain ways to process language and quantities. Whatever we do we are simply learning another, perhaps more efficient way of processing symbols representative of reality. Plato thought that literacy was dumbing down his students because they did not memorize and meditate on what they learned, choosing to write it down and put it on the shelf instead. Are our children any different if they choose to let computers deal with the mechanical aspect of literacy and numeracy so they can concentrate on higher order operations? Do we agonize over our children being unable to weave cloth and tailor clothing?

If Marshall McLuhan is right, we are not past the point where we are pumping old media through the new internet media pipe. Text will always be with us, I think because it is just too darned useful. But we will utilize it differently as we become able to record, replay, produce, publish, communicate and collaborate using non-textual, non-numeric media and move beyond linear and tabular networks and into netular scale-free networks.

Something that occurred to me about phonetic language like English and syllabic language like Arabic versus iconic language like Hanyu Chinese is a phonetic or syllabic language enable you to encode or decode words according to their sound and store and retrieve them based on a simple index. Hanyu on the other hand provides no association between code and sound. You are dependent on the person you hear the word from to provide the association making coding and decoding author dependent. Iconic storage and retrieval indexes are not always obvious either although they do exist based on the subordinate symbols from which words are composed. The internet poses the remedy to this by enabling the automation of the association between sound and icon and definition.

It seems to me that iconic languages as a technology are undergoing a major evolutionary change that could not be achieved without the internet.

Computing is going through an interesting process:

Note: PL means programming language

Nodular Computer: Mainframe: Priesthoods operate
Nodular Network: ARPANET: Priesthoods connect
Nodular Data: Variable: Noun: Priesthoods Query
Nodular Language: Variable PL: Assembler: Priesthoods Manipulate
Nodular Communication: Variable Packet: TCP/IP Priesthoods Communicate
Nodular Schedule: Sequential Batch

Linear Computer: Minicomputer: Scribes operate
Linear Network: Ethernet: Scribes connect
Linear Data: String dbms: Verb: Scribes Query
Linear Language: String PL: 3GL: Scribes Manipulate
Linear Communication: String Packet: HTML: Scribes Communicate
Linear Schedule: Multi-Tasking

Tabular Computer: Microcomputer: Educated operate
Tabular Network: Internet: Educated communicate
Tabular Data: Relational dbms: Noun Set: Educated Query
Tabular Language: Relational PL: SQL: Educated Manipulate
Tabular Communication: Relation Packet: XML: Educated Communicate
Tabular Schedule: Multi-Threading

What is over the horizon and will accompany Iconic Languages I call “DemocraNet”

Netular Computer: Scale-free CPUs: Laypeople operate
Netular Network: High Frequency Gravity Wave Network: Laypeople communicate
Netular Data: Associational DBMS: Verb Set: Laypeople Query
Netular Language: Assocational PL: Iconic Language: Laypeople Manupulate
Netular Communication: Association Packet: XMPEGML: Laypeople Communicate
Netular Schedule: AlwaysOn

Scale-free CPUs will be solid state computers.  There will be no moving parts at all: Solid State Storage, no fans, no boards and a Network Processor.

High Frequency Gravity Wave Networks will make available bandwidth several factors larger.

Associational DBMSs will allow us to modify databases on the fly without concerns regarding referential integrity or normalization.

Iconic Language will Internationalize visual communication.

XMPEGML as new form of markup language for the standardization of iconic language exchange awaits development.

AlwaysOn would mean that you are always connected to democranet and always processing data.

Everything is in the mix to varying degrees, but each successive community is larger.

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Literacy and Numeracy: Who Needs Them?

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When Plato was teaching his students he was often frustrated by their note taking and reference to written records.  Plato was of the opinion that the new technology of literacy was creating a generation that was unable to think and meditate on what they were learning because of their dependency on the written word.

Today, technology is providing us with a broad array of new media with which we record, replay, produce, publish, communicate and collaborate without using literacy or numeracy.  Academics, publishers and governments are alarmed at declines in the reading of printed publications and student’s declining performance in the classroom.  They are claiming that “computeracy” is creating a generation that cannot read, write or perform mathematical operations because of their dependency on digital communication.

The truth is literacy and numeracy are simply primitive techniques for encoding information.  Composition and mathematics are just a bag of mental tricks for processing information.  And most of us do most of it poorly anyway.

Grieving over the loss of literacy and numeracy is like grieving over the inability to weave cloth or tailor one’s own clothes.  Computers have made literacy and numeracy very much like the mechanization of textile production.

What is happening in classrooms, to publisher’s sales and bureaucracy is not a decline in the intelligence of our next generation.  It is an increasing obsolescence of traditional literacy and numeracy.

Our children are not thinking at lower levels.  Instead, they are not wasting time with the mental effort required to mechanically process at the level of traditional literacy and numeracy and applying themselves to higher level thought.

The current method of submitting papers for peer review is completely obsolete.  HTML was an attempt to take the primitive technology of the printed page, reference and citation and emulate it with the small addition of hyperlinks.

The yet to be fully realized method of academic publication will be the publication of databases containing problem and hypothesis, subjects and researchers, schemas and forms, data and queries, measures and units, amounts and currencies, results and conclusions all available for peer review and public consumption–research databases and white databases.  And beyond that entire models in common formats which we are seeing in Computer Assisted Design Systems and Geographic Information Systems, for example.

This new generation using new media is modeling the universe in ways and at scales that were impossible with pen, paper and chalkboard.  They are even beyond printing press, radio, television, recorded audio, recorded video and most physical storage.  And the new generation can already interact globally in all of these new media.

Where are the people that are supposedly preparing them for life in this new world?  Complaining that their students are not interested in reading text books.  Even pumping normal children full of Ritalin to deny they as educators are not worthy of their students’ attention.

Induction, Deduction and Eight States of Change

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

For many years, people with terminal illnesses were an embarrassment for doctors. Someone who could not be cured was evidence of the doctors’ fallibility, and as a result the doctors regularly shunned the dying with the excuse that there was nothing more that could be done (and that there was plenty of other demand on the doctors’ time).

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a doctor in Switzerland who railed against this unkindness and spent a lot of time with dying people, both comforting and studying them. She wrote a book, called ‘On Death and Dying’ which included a cycle of emotional states that is often referred to (but not exclusively called) the Grief Cycle.

In the ensuing years, it was noticed that this emotional cycle was not exclusive just to the terminally ill, but also other people who were affected by bad news, such as losing their jobs or otherwise being negatively affected by change. The important factor is not that the change is good or bad, but that they perceive it as a significantly negative event.

The Grief Cycle

The Grief Cycle can be shown as in the chart below, indicating the roller-coaster ride of activity and passivity as the person wriggles and turns in their desperate efforts to avoid the change.

The initial state before the cycle is received is stable, at least in terms of the subsequent reaction on hearing the bad news. Compared with the ups and downs to come, even if there is some variation, this is indeed a stable state.

And then, into the calm of this relative paradise, a bombshell bursts…

The Induction/Deduction Change Cycle

I think that the grieving processs is considerably more universal than it first appears.  The grieving process is in reality the way we deal with any change psychologically, social-psychologically or sociologically on a micro, meso or macro scale.  And depending on the scale, the seven stages can occur over minutes, over years, even centuries.

In the list I have below I compare the resistance or friction to change with the action of change:

  • Occurrence – Recept State – Singularity – Exception occurs – Contacts
  • Shock or Disbelief – Cord State- Attempt to maintain current schedule (events) – Factums
  • Denial – Port State- Attempt to maintain current tools (location) – Factories
  • Anger – Record State – Attempt to maintain current domains (products) Factities
  • Bargaining – Report State – Attempt to maintain current attributions (services) – Factors
  • Depression – Accord State – Attempt to maintain current organization (contacts) – Factotums
  • Testing – Apport State – Attempt to maintain current motives (goals) – Factuals
  • Hope – Accept State – Pluralarity – Attempt to maintain existence (reality) – Facts

As you can see the fit with the Systema model is quite good and my “Fact” vocabulary fits well, too.  The process is inductive, you can call it the death cycle.  It works its way through the system structure, be it a person, group or hierarchy.  It also reveals something else, how each level of the organism will react.  Followed by induction, the tearing down of a belief system, we deal with deduction, which is building up a new belief system, the deductive lifecycle.


At the midpoints of the cycle exist singularities or infinity points.  At the top and bottom of the cycle exist pluralarities or zero points.

The OODA Loop

Colonel John Boyd, understood how to use induction and deduction against the enemy.  He knew that if you could disrupt the timing of your opponent you could disrupt everything else.  If your opponent lost his timing he would be in the wrong location with the wrong product for providing the wrong service to the wrong contact with the wrong goal.  Accelerate your cycle’s timing and your opponent is overwhelmed.


Norman Dixon, in his book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, provides a broad range of definitions of military incompetence, however Elizabeth Kübler-Ross boils it down to two phenomna with regard to change:

Getting Stuck

A common problem with the above cycle is that people get stuck in one phase. Thus a person may become stuck in denial, never moving on from the position of not accepting the inevitable future. When it happens, they still keep on denying it, such as the person who has lost their job still going into the city only to sit on a park bench all day.

Getting stuck in denial is common in ‘cool’ cultures (such as in Britain, particularly Southern England) where expressing anger is not acceptable. The person may feel that anger, but may then repress it, bottling it up inside.

Likewise, a person may be stuck in permanent anger (which is itself a form of flight from reality) or repeated bargaining. It is more difficult to get stuck in active states than in passivity, and getting stuck in depression is perhaps a more common ailment.

Going in Circles

Another trap is that when a person moves on to the next phase, they have not completed an earlier phase and so move backwards in cyclic loops that repeat previous emotion and actions. Thus, for example, a person that finds bargaining not to be working, may go back into anger or denial.

Circling is itself a form of avoidance of the inevitable, and going backwards in time may seem to be a way of extending the time before the perceived bad thing happens.

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.