See things clearly

OBASHI is a way of thinking that will help you get a clear picture of how your business works. Below is a short extract from the OBASHI Methodology manual, if you would like to read the extract as it appears in the manual, here is a pdf.


"Chapter 3 – OBASHI and Digital Flow


3.1 History of Flow


Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution an understanding of flow – firstly flows of water, then steam, then electricity, then oil, petroleum and components – has been vital for businesses, the economy and society:


1770s mechanisation, factories, and canals – water 

1830s steam engines, coal, and iron railways – steam 

1870s steel and heavy engineering, telegraphy, refrigeration – electricity 

1910s oil, mass production, and the automobile – oil; components; petrol


Over time, the professions of architecture and engineering, and various sciences, co-operated to develop standards and practices for measurement, management, safety, optimization and valuation, to accurately understand these different flows.


How a business worked was clearly understood.


Today, flow is everywhere: electricity flows around houses; aircraft flow through the skies; medicines flow through patients; passengers flow through transport systems; food flows between countries; hurricanes flow around the Equator; etc.


In business, the flow of money is arguably the most important flow.


But in the 21st century, over 90% of the world’s money exists in the form of data. Trillions of dollars flow electronically through the world’s IT systems every day.


While this has brought many benefits, it has also created many risks.



3.2 Common language


For centuries, architects and engineers have used pictures and diagrams to simplify complexity and mitigate risks.


Business would never pay for a skyscraper or a bridge without seeing, understanding and costing plans, diagrams and pictures.


The purpose of these visual tools used by architects and engineers is to serve as a common language and to minimize risk.


They enable communication, cooperation and collaboration between architects and engineers and the other disciplines that are involved in running projects, by creating clarity about how everything is put together to make the business work.


Different groups of people with different skills are able to discuss these documents and see clearly how they each contribute to the company strategy or individual project.


In today’s complex digitally driven business world, there is an obvious need for clarity about precisely how the business works. A simple, clear and logical way to understand and communicate the business and IT relationship and its associated risks is required.


One of the explanations for the 2008-09 financial crisis is that financial institutions and regulators did not have clarity about precisely how money, which is to say, data, flowed through individual businesses and across the financial system.


Like finance, businesses in most other sectors today rely on a complex interaction of people, process and technology. And it is the flow of data that is the life-blood of the modern business.


But unlike businesses of earlier eras, modern businesses have yet to understand precisely how they work. They cannot see how individual business assets are put together to enable the flow of data.


The rapid adoption of seemingly affordable information technology that started in the 1980s led to a proliferation of systems and increased complexity. Over time, these became legacy systems. In most sectors, strategic planning often gave way to tactical departmental solutions in an effort to solve short-term problems or derive perceived financial gain.


There were exceptions. High-risk sectors like Oil & Gas and Nuclear were required by law to operate as safely as possible, and being seen to understand and manage dangerous flows was critical to their survival as businesses. The rapid adoption of technology in these sectors had to be precisely understood.


No matter what the political system, no matter what the economic system, no matter what the regulatory regime, the above holds true. The understanding of flow is critical to understanding how the business works and to moving the business forward in order to achieve strategic objectives.”


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