What is an ontology? Roughly 2500 years ago, during Fifth Century BC, in a remote province town called Elia, Province of today’s Salerno in Southern Italy, part of the Greater Greece, a smart guy called Parmenides developed the concept of ontology, as a philosophic way to look at things, in terms of entities. It was the start of what we call today System Thinking. It was a strategic milestone in the developing of abstract rational mind capabilities. It was so incredible smart, that even today most people still struggle with the concept of breaking reality in entities or processes. A very classic high-level ontology is for example People – Process – Technology, which applies, or should apply, in all Digital Transformation initiatives, in that order. The incredible high rate of failure of transformation shows that even such simple ontologies have not found their way in all human minds, as technology comes generally first, and people and process behind.
Mapping and visualising a system as a whole is incredible powerful and awareness creating. Especially if we start using the Entropy Quotient as a meta-KPI for sustainability. The day we can see a complete landscape with all the relations, dependencies and hierarchies and use colour codes for meta-KPIs, like health and sustainability, risk or maturity, the fragility of our systems strike us. It is a major mind shift, just as the first viewing of the Earth from an orbit outside the atmosphere, or at least from a high flying plane.
Ontology maps have the power to bring to our view the most complex systems in a simple way and are a fantastic way to improve decision-making. We Humans have a natural tendency to silo-thinking, and are only slowly evolving towards network-thinking or ontology-thinking. The silo-mind can not see the whole system, maybe he can grasp a meta-silo at best. By the way, we need silo-thinkers for a great number of tasks, they are useful. Silo-thinkers are not good in decision-making though, as of the lack of overview.
Our current world is dominated by short-sighted silo-based decisions and this is the reason why the risk-level rises and sustainability decreases. The laws of thermodynamics and entropy dictate the course: complexity level rises as transformation goes on and anyone in the IT business can see this every day. It is obviously true also on global scale for all human business, are we not about to destroy our planet with silo-thinking?
My point is, we can move forward to a better comprehension of complex systems by using simple data visualisation and ontology maps, together with Entropy Quotients.
Rosho, Berlin, 19/08/2018