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Enterprise Ontology

Full title: Enterprise Ontology - Theory and Methodology

Author(s): Jan L.G. Dietz

Year: 2006

Keywords: Enterprise Engineering, Enterprise Ontology, organization, communication, information

I strongly recommend this book to any professional who wants to have a basis on sound principles when working with:
• (Re)design an analysis of organizations / business processes;
• Describing business processes and information in an integral way;
• Revealing the essence of the business operation of an organization, independent of choices made with regard to automation.

The Epilogue of this book starts with: "Communication is the thread of which Organization is woven”. It shows the core of the socio-technical approach that Jan Dietz chooses for the (re)design of organizations. The heart of an organization is formed of employees that communicate with each other to enter into and comply with commitments.

In nearly 250 pages Dietz describes in a compact way his approach in the field of enterprise engineering: Design & Engineering Methodology for Organizations (DEMO).

In the 'Foundations' part Dietz deals among others with systems theory, white/black box models, design, engineering and systems development. Then he expounds his theory. He describes how people work together, for which he relies on notions such as communication patterns (transactions), responsibilities (actor roles) and business processes. Subsequently he makes clear that the essence of an organization is to be found where people enter into commitments for the consumption and delivery of products and / or services, and comply with those commitments. Mapping this out leads to the so-called ontological model of the organization. It is the starting point for implementing an organization by putting in people and resources.

On the basis of two case studies (pizzeria and library) DEMO is explained. The methodology and the products of it (like diagrams) are discussed. Dietz clearly demonstrates how a coherent, comprehensive, consistent, concise and essential model of an organization can be made. He does this by drawing up a number of partial models and closely align them. As an example: the partial model in which the data ("facts") are described that are relevant for an organization exactly fits with the partial model in which the use of facts in process activities is discussed.

In the publications 'Red garden gnomes do not exist’ and 'The essence of organization’ that were issued in 2012, Dietz gives his latest insights. Partially this is a revision of what is described in ‘Enterprise Ontology’. However, in my opinion that books retains its value because it contains more about the theory behind DEMO than the two publications mentioned.