Ontological Design

Action Workflow

November 20, 2015

The Action Workflow was designed by Fernando Flores and Chauncey Bell in the early 90s and is a theoretical framework which covers the entire realm of services from hotels to Airbnb, ODS to Cloud computing, banking to crowdfunding. From the most basic exchanges to the delivery of a multinational's product, the Action Workflow reveals, and allows us to intervene in and design these services.

In a recent paper, I take a look at the Action Workflow, its progression over the last several decades, and its continued vibrancy. I've posted a working version on my site. Please take a look and let me know your feedback, questions, comments, where it opens something new or where it falls flat.



Victoria Petrova at Basic Element

April 24, 2013

She runs a leading Russian conglomerate with a 250,000 employee organization, encompasing hundreds of companies in five continents and eight sectors. Petrova's main challenge: change management, introducing new operating models that recurrently expand people's productivity. Her answer: technology & telepresence, training, hard work (reading a lot, keeping yourself connected with emerging conversations). Her struggle: attracting young talent - who seem to be more interested in entrepreneurial ventures - to work in large corporations.



Theology at the University of Edinburgh: angels, chlorofluorocarbon, anthropocene and grace

April 12, 2013

Here. Seated in a standard square wood chair designed for the average posadera to endure 90 minutes of lecture. It was February 18th at 5:25 pm in the University of Edinburgh historical St Cecilia's Hall, regarded as a symbol of cultural life of the Scottish enlightenment. The surrounding neighborhood of Cowgate is a buoyant rapid of tradition and emergence over cold, hard, dark stone. The one time students den Bannerman Bar (sweet beer and colossal hamburgers) confronting both, the “mathematicians only cave”  at the opposite corner, and the St. Cecilia’s Hall. It is a very alive corner over the Fringe Festival. There is something beautiful about Latour, he always seems to be holding back a smile or even a deep laugh. Thinking, anthropology or existence seem to be a fun, unpredictable, creative game with him. More a Merlin than an academic. Blending his discourse with architecture, theatrical dance, music, science and politics and alway keeping the joyful drama alive. Un-leashing the modern mind from their heavy assumptions on any sort of transcendence, essence, or fundamental ontology... but historical power. Yes, the wizard claims, in our worldly experience reason is undistinguishable from power... and of course, power is a special verb, a networked verb embroiled with a peculiar assemblage of humans and non-humans. Uufff... how much work just to live life in wonder!! But it is simple! and he laughed looking at me... agency is just anything that transforms, anything that triggers a change... keep it simple!... the rest is just stylistic, I give a voice to non-human because I found it illuminating. Beautiful. And do not forget, at every step everything gets distributed between humans, non-humans and goddesses in a perpetual flow.

Selling Services in China

April 10, 2013

I've articulated an initial framework on aspects of the Chinese style of developing social capital, or guanxi and how one might integrate it with strategies for growing a business. Ontologicaly, it is based in a temporal framework of trust (needs to be made more explicit). Of course, it is tight synthesis with many streams to explore... and it is lot less a description than a speculative possibility. You can find it on my Text-Text page or by reading the Scribd version below.

Thriving in Beijing

(I altered some facts in the narrative to keep it more private)

We arrived at Beijing, Monday the 4th at 6am. Two hours later we checked into the Swissotel Beijing Hong Kong Macau Centre, 2 Chao Yang Men Bei Da Jie. The taxi ride took us 40 minutes to the SML Holding building, in 1073 Jintong West Road, Chaoyang District, the new 4job4u offices. We didn’t feel the change, but the company had jumped from 1500 mts2 of office space to 3500 mts2. We were just landing and on the verge of getting our first lesson on business in China.

We occupied the conference room in the 13th floor, facing the CCTV Station of China. After 90 minutes of logistic and coordination with Xen Xin, CEO PA, we met Stephen Dedalus, who immediately gave us a tour around the new offices, introducing us to the different work groups and explaining the new branding posters displayed on the wall. The 4job4u Tiger was coming back. The brand has been declining along the last four years, but still has recognition, a positive equity. Many experienced and talented people have left the company.

March 2013 results are heavily influenced by seasonality. However, 4job4u results against their gigantic competitors were spectacular. While zhaopin.com was flat and 51jop.com grew at a 4.5% in March, 4job4u.com grew at a staggering 40%!!... posters were shouting aloud on the new offices walls that contained the cubicles of Hunters and Farmers. People need to be motivated, Stephen remarked, we need to show them that they are doing a good work, that the new 4job4u it is underway. Traffic will come, results will come.

I visited 16 offices the last 2 weeks, he explained. It is the first time I made myself available to the people. In three occasions people approached me to talk about difficulties produced by a sort of fraud or corruption in some of our products . A product that should have a gross margin of about 40 or 50%. It seems that previous administration wasn’t directly involved with the people in the regional offices. It was a remote relationship. A system of kicks-back slowly permeated the practices of sales, project management, providers, and customer’s people. It was a catastrophe for the previous American investors and we have to fix it.

I'll have a meeting with Jin Li Bo, Product Manager and Zhao Ma, Sales Director. I need to change this current inherited situation. I brought them to my office in Beijing to discuss this issue openly. Do you want to observe the conversation?

No more than 40 seconds later we were seated shoulder to shoulder around a small circular table in his office listening to a conversation intermediated by a translator. Jingli is a low margin market, started the Sales Director of the Tianjin region, we do not have entertainment budget… It took 10 min to Stephen to ask his managers not to tell him manipulative stories. Don’t lie to me, he said, the erosion in product profitability it is not caused by market conditions, it was caused by a system of kick-backs… and you are aware of that. Are you? He asked. Both approved nodding their heads and barely whispering. Were you involved? Are you playing a role in this mechanism? He continued. No, they whispered again. I’ll trust you this time. Go and fix this situation, call me with a clear report of what you have done, and a proposal. I don't want lies, no hidden costs, and no automatic approvals for dinner. I understand that there are some practices in the market, but I don’t want to hide what happens, but make it visible and shape it. If you need something, you call me. Ok? This time I’ll trust you.

We were introduced to “guanxi” a couple of hours after landing, one of the key aspects of the Chinese business way.

The meeting was over in twenty minutes. Then we were back to the conference room and we spent the early afternoon organizing the next few weeks of the projects. We listened for the third time that his main concern was to develop his team, that people outside and around him. He spoke as if there was no connection between their change and his change, their behavior and his behavior. However, he suggested he might need to learn something here.

Well, I answered trying to capitalize on the opening, let me share some of my initial assessments about you. You are the guy that resolves all the issues and makes all the decisions in the company; you do not give room for people to learn from their own mistakes, you don’t give room for your team to come up with proposals, you manage by request and all this may not be sustainable for the leap you drew in the business case, and for the new business phase you are already engaged in. These are my reactions about you, not even preliminary assessments. So, I won’t spend much time defending them in a conversation. It is just for you to know about my reactive point of view.

We are here to help you to prepare your team and your company’s core capacities.

There seems to be a great distance between you and your direct line of reports, my colleague said to Stephen. This fact will affect the dynamic and performance of your Integration Plan. Absolutely, answered Stephen, inserting his words in my colleague’s initial lines. Keep in mind Chinese people turnover in commercial roles. We are fundamentally sales. I’ll present the plan to the team tomorrow; you are invited to the meeting. I think it will be worth your time. He left to his next meeting.

Over the next few days, we traveled thousands and thousands of kilometers along East China. A succession of meeting rooms, hotels, food rooms, train stations, airports and taxis. I never had the sensation of having left the Beijing airport. Never felt a genuine piece of the mythical and legendary China… and nevertheless that was China.

Service Mapping

July 06, 2010

To map services requires a set of distinctions out of which maps are going to be build. Geographical maps are build based in share conventional distinctions such as latitude and longitude, curves of level, and color coding among many others. Good powerful maps are based in sharp distinctions that allows us to observe, assess and take relevant actions. Here there is a collection of service mapping intents. Many of them are based in symbolizing "things" people encounter when experiencing a particular service on ad hoc bases. They also provide a larger context  - a service process- in which it is possible to appreciate  how customer's experience of the service takes place and how one particular event may be related to a previous one. There is a more structured set of distinctions to map services, such of those used by New Scale or Vision Consulting. These approaches have two main advantages. First, they allows to track specific actions that are delivering value to customer. Second, they map critical roles that are both, the source of stability for the process and the possibility for change and innovation.

The emergence and collaps of a market: CDO/Collateralized Debt Obligation

July 01, 2010

... or sub-prime mortgage credits (triple-B-rated) packaged in bonds (triple-B-rated), and then packaged in CDOs (triple-A-rated... the magic leap)... that may also become components of new CDOs (triple-A-rated)... against which mortgage default swaps were issued... swaps that became the exclusive component of the synthetic CDOs (triple-A-rated)... then Mr Wing Chaw - and many, many others- advising institutional investors (big pocket, risk averse, only triple-A-rated assets) to buy them... a systemic failure in making risks assessment.

Sullivan and emerging languages

April 21, 2009

The Bay Area dubliner David Sullivan sent me this. He claims that the internet and the new forms of commons rigths are driving the emergence of subtle languages. What do u think?

Searle's 50 years at Berkeley

April 14, 2009

A celebration. A conversation. New questions.

Synthetic Realities, Social Labs & Excellence

February 20, 2009

  • Orchestration of Networks
    Orchestration of Excellence in Networks
    Orchestration of Excellence in Pluralistic Networks
    Orchestration of Excellence in Pluralistic Hybrid Networks

Fernando Flores has been insisting, for few years, that there is a variety of technologies - such as MMORPG- that creates and support the development of social, persistent virtual worlds. In other words, technologies that creates synthetic realities. The opportunity that this synthetic realities open is huge. They can be used as laboratories and simulators for innovating in social practices, as well as in developing practical mastery.

Many of these MMORPG -WoW- are political in its nature and involve a rich variety of activities -career, economics, business, community, militar, etc-. Consequently, they offers a natural space for social involvement. However, in order to be used as Labs or Simulators, significant adjustment to the game and the logic of playing the game should be introduced. The Lab do not operate and can't operate with the logic of Wizzard Entertainment and its game designers. The presuposition that playing a particular MMORPG will develop leadership, management or any other social skill is greatly misleading. Games by itself often become a painful addiction.

A twiked MMORPG -or in the near future a customized simulator- offers something that traditional education -with few exceptions as martial arts or performing arts- have not been able to offer until know: mastering practices. Following H. Dreyfus argument, he claims that mastering a practice requires social involvement. Only in social context that imply social involvement individuals can experience, observe and modify their emotional dispositions, encounter emergent aspect in their worlds, and endlessly refine their habits. MMORPG are not just social, but massive, diverse, global and hybrid providing a new horizon for developing and "orchestrating" masteries...

A new wave of technology driven transformations?