Part 4: Identify the underlying concepts

aIn the previous posts in the series, we discussed how it is important to focus on the concepts first and then the terms. Today we discuss identifying what the central concepts are in the enterprise. Every enterprise typically has a small handful of core concepts that all the other concepts hinge on. For retail manufacturing, it is all about products and specifications (of products) which leads to manufacturing. For health care, everything hinges on patients and providing care (to patients) which is the driver for diagnosis and treatment procedures. But how do we identify those core concepts? Unfortunately, there is no magic answer.

The trick is to get into beginners mind and start asking basic questions. Sometimes it takes a while before it is clear what the core concepts are. One good sign that you have them is that everything seems to click nicely into place. It is the distilled essence of a complex web of ideas. Once identified, this small handful of concepts becomes the glue for holding the enterprise ontology together as well as the basis for the story of explaining and socializing it to stakeholders when it is ready.

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