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An agreed Taxonomy within the business - worthwhile or not?

As part of getting Architecture accepted and adopted within my organisation we laid out a whole raft of 'standards'  (a lot of these will get covered at another time) but one which we needed to settle at a very early stage which was the use of common terms and the establishment of a taxonomy. A taxonomy is pretty much like a dictionary but it was specific to our industry - in this case Aviation.

There was much consternation about the effort involved and comments made that a tree is a tree and a plane is a plane... but actually it is not. In the latter example they both fly by exerting a force in a particular direction that is greater than the one experienced by gravity but that is really where it ends.

A picture was shown of a helicopter to a number of colleagues and they were asked to communicate back to us what they saw. The range and variety of comments was staggering but in reality expected. Some saw a helicopter, some saw a red helicopter, some saw a helicopter with twin blades, some stated the actual model, the manufacturer and the model, this particular helicopter's nickname - you get the picture so to speak.

However, that was exactly the point; people didn't get the picture at all. People saw the same thing but took away completely different interpretations of what they had seen and when repeating it back demonstrated exactly why we needed a taxonomy, a means to ensure that the terms used when in meetings or discussing requirements needed to be consistent regardless of whether the participants were business people or IT people to eradicate confusion and to assure that we were all discussing the same thing.

Another example of disagreement until a light bulb moment for many was on definitions used within project initiation ....  goals, objectives, initiatives, strategy, capability, function, process - the list is endless although my pet hate is the misuse of system, service and application everywhere. Many of these terms are used interchangeably but to an Architect, they each have a specific meaning and therefore a particular purpose.

Interested in anyone else's perspective or experiences if you have seen anything different?