Shaping agent behaviors

Jordan Petersen, a Canadian professor and practicing clinical psychologist who has developed a reputation as one of our leading intellectuals. He grew up in the isolated, frigid wastelands of Northern Alberta. That experience gave him the motivation and confidence to become an adventurer, having flown a hammer-head roll in a carbon-fiber stunt-plane and explored an Arizona meteorite crater with astronauts.

Petersen is also steeped in culture, having constructed a Kwagu'l ceremonial house on the upper floor of his home, which is also decorated with artwork depicting the tragedy of totalitarian societies which have adopted communism. Not exactly what one might expect from a person that spends their lives helping people sort out their lives.

As an educator, he's received the top student rating at both Harvard and the University of Toronto, where he currently teaches. He's also spent twenty years helping clients manage depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia, and has published over a hundred scientific papers, focusing around the modern understanding of personality, and 

Meddling with metamodel representations


Figure 1

In The Treachery of images, a famous painting by René Magritte, the artist painted the tobacco pipe depicted in Figure 1, labeled it with the caption "Ceci n'est pas une pipe.", or "This is not a pipe". He later remarked:

The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture 'This is a pipe', I'd have been lying!

Magritte's work highlights that even through a painting of a pipe may be used for many purposes, none include smoking tobacco. J. Rothenberg captures the essence of making such representations of reality in the Nature of Modeling:

Modeling, in the broadest sense, is the cost-effective use of something in place of something else for some cognitive purpose. It allows us to use something that is simpler, safer or cheaper than reality instead of reality for some purpose. A model represents reality for the given purpose; the model is an abstraction of reality in the sense that it cannot represent all aspects of reality. This allows us to deal with the world in a simplified manner, avoiding the complexity, danger, and irreversibility of reality.

Metamodeling, or more formally, metadata modeling involves the conceptual abstraction ('meta') of models themselves. This process of abstraction involves integrating theory, concepts, configurations, rules, and constraints. The results must be adequate for the analysis, construction, and development of models that conform to the metamodel they are subordinate to. As in Magritte's painting, there is a recursive nature to these representations, as they must apply to a variety of modeling environments, representing:

Bridging TOGAF's architecture domains

Figure 1

The Open Group Architecture Framework, like other frameworks, has several standards for enterprise architecture at its core, including TOGAF (a diagramming and notational standard) and ArchiMate (a standard for modeling tools). TOGAF provides a process for developing and implementing enterprise architectures, which is called the Architecture Development Method (ADM). TOGAF also provides viewpoints, techniques, and reference models drawn from a content framework which demonstrates using each building blocks that are expected to be employed in documenting an enterprise architecture definition.

While the Open Group reports that TOGAF is being used by 80% of Global 50 businesses, skeptics have questioned what level of benefits can actually be achieved by adopting such a framework out of the box. Because of the subjective nature of TOGAF's guidance, it can be difficult to isolate issues which are intrinsic to the framework itself from problems which are common to those applying this framework for developing a specific instance of an architecture definition.

TOGAF's architecture domains themselves are not the problem, as they are made up of Enterprise Architecture viewpoints that are typical of the information needed to orchestrate major IT transformation projects:

The promise and perils of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks

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Enterprise architectures shape the design of the businesses in an enterprise so a desired future state can be achieved. An Enterprise Architecture Framework is a type of conceptual framework that organizes the development, implementation, and sustainment of such architectures. There are quite a few frameworks, and each is intended to guide the formation of architecture descriptions by:

  • defining a common vocabulary across structural architectural elements
  • establishing a repository for capturing and managing the content of these descriptions
  • leveraging methods for managing the elements and governance of these elements and their properties, to ensure they are fit for the purposes they are employed to accomplish, while assuring integration across their temporal, spatial, and functional dimensions.
  • prescribing the standards that are to be followed as these elements are implemented

Promising opportunities to integrate manufacturing

Figure 1

In an analysis of technology advances to manufacturing opportunities, McKinsey & Company describes the promise of potential benefits available from "currently demonstrated technologies", which they characterize as exhibiting "the level of performance and reliability needed to automate one or more of 18 capabilities involved in carrying out work activities. In some cases, that level of performance has been demonstrated through commercially available products, and in others through research projects." Their promise follows:

We emphasize that the potential for automation described above is created by adapting and integrating currently demonstrated technologies. Moreover, it is notable that recent technological advances have overcome many of the traditional limitations of robotics and automation. A new generation of robots that are more flexible and versatile, and cost far less, than those used in many manufacturing environments today can be “trained” by frontline staff to perform tasks previously thought to be too difficult for machines—tasks such as picking and packing irregularly spaced objects, and resolving wiring conflicts in large-scale projects in, for example, the aerospace industry. Artificial intelligence is also making major strides that are increasing the potential for automating work activities.

The essential characteristics of capabilities


Figure 1

A capability is defined as that which provides an ability to achieve a desired effect under specified standards and conditions. Such desired effects must be observable as changes in the resources consumed in performing a defined set of activities. Such activities provide courses of action which form the means for an organization and its performers to pursue an organization's mission.

Different architectural frameworks have different interpretations of the idea of a capability. For example, the TOGAF framework uses the word to delineate business capabilities for architectures without prescribing how such capabilities to be achieved. The TOGAF framework uses the concept of 'capability increments' as building blocks which are essential to capability planning. but delegates the means of developing, enhancing, and delivering necessary capabilities through other governance instruments. As a result, when either underlying governance is limited, ambiguous, or inconsistently applied, it can prove difficult to diagnose and resolve problems of performance which may be hidden by the abstract idea of a capability itself.

In contrast, the DODAF framework adopts a more specific meaning for the concept of a capability, which is depicted in figure 1. This representation is notable in its modeling of resources as abstractions of information, material, and performers. Architectures define how such capabilities should be resourced to achieve these desirable effects. This requires consideration of the system of interest's variety, mode, and mereology, as well as the praxis of its production. Within the DODAF framework, activities consume resources that are in one state and produce resources that result in a transition to another state. Performers perform these activities under conditions that affect their performance. Performers do this by following guidance sufficient for guiding them to competently perform tasks under specified conditions which will produce acceptable outcomes. All this should be measurable so that the performance of an activity can be assessed against standards for that performance.