What Business Knowledge Is

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

The Business Agility Manifesto[1] focuses intensely on business knowledge.  What's the Manifesto talking about?

Business knowledge doesn't need to be mysterious.  The Manifesto defines it as follows:

business knowledge:  the total set of business concepts, their organizing connections, and the business rules upon which the existence of the business depends

Business knowledge is definitely not software development knowledge.  At the most basic level, business knowledge consists of two key ingredients:  business definitions of terms — a corporate vocabulary in the form of a concept model — and business rules.

Those two things are singled out because they are fundamental to precision in a highly complex world.  They are also key to what the Manifesto material calls reconfiguration agility — the ability to change products and processes as fast as possible in a completely traceable, repeatable, and reliable way.[2]

The Manifesto prescribes that business knowledge be explicit, not tacit.  That's where today's approaches fall down.  Furthermore, it must be expressed "in a form accessible to all business audiences."[3]  Obviously software code doesn't fit the bill(!).

In a broader sense, business knowledge is about the company's capacity to retain corporate memory and to demonstrate comprehensive compliance — without any dependence on individual workers or static documentation.

Unfortunately, when someone makes a decision today about changing a policy or process, that knowledge evaporates as soon as it is created.  It's simply gone.  Poof!  That just won't do in a knowledge economy.  And it certainly won't do if your goal is permanent transparency.

In short, the Manifesto identifies business knowledge as a mandatory business asset for the Knowledge Age.  As such, it needs to be "under the purview of general management."


[1]  The Business Agility Manifesto:  Building for Change, by Roger T. Burlton,  Ronald G. Ross, and John A. Zachman, (2017) https://busagilitymanifesto.org/ return to article

[2]   https://busagilitymanifesto.org/accompaniments/supplements/sidebar-for-the-software-industry return to article

[3]  For example, business rules can be expressed in RuleSpeak® — www.RuleSpeak.com return to article

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Standard citation for this article:

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Ronald G. Ross, "What Business Knowledge Is" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 19, No. 7, (Jul. 2018)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2018/b959.html

About our Contributor:

Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the BRS Methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:

Ron serves as Executive Editor of BRCommunity.com and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997, now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on http://www.brsolutions.com/category/blog/. For more information about Ron visit www.RonRoss.info. Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

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