Essence DefinitionsA central idea in business rules is that any aspect of business guidance or know-how that might change should be treated as rules. In forming definitions for business concepts, the practitioner should always focus what is unlikely to ever change – that is, on fundamental essence. Our approach therefore emphasizes essence definitions as a best practice.
For example, consider the definition of “customer” proposed by a practitioner in a recent real-life project:
Consider the areas of business practice that might change over time:
- That a customer may be either an organization or an individual person.
- That placing orders is the core criterion for being a customer.
- That a minimum of exactly one order is a criterion for being a customer.
- That an order having been paid is a criterion for being a customer.
- That the timeframe of exactly two years is a criterion for being a customer.
Now consider definition (2a) of “customer” from the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary:
The Webster’s version is clearly better. The embedded business practices of the practitioner’s version should be treated as elements of guidance, as follows.
Is the Webster’s definition exclusively “essence”? Almost, but not quite. Note the word “purchases” in the 2a definition. Having to purchase something to be a customer is a necessity. Many people (especially some in marketing) would probably not want to place that constraint on being a “customer.”
So we might go the Webster’s definition one better by relaxing the embedded “purchases” necessity, as follows:
This revised version is about as close to pure essence as a definition for this concept could possibly become. Incidentally, the definition builds on the sense of Webster’s definition 4 [emphasis added]:
So the revised essence definition has not really strayed too far from Webster’s. In defining business vocabulary, straying from the dictionary for meanings should always be a last resort.