Use Case Measuring Info Flow

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Jeff Waters (For the progress on this use case, click here.)

Decision Aspects

  • Primary: Time, Process
  • Secondary: Overhead

eXtreme Design Components

There is a method proposed specifically for reusing Content Ontology Design Patterns, called eXtreme Design (XD). There is a good paper describing this method at: . In summary, the idea is to use an agile and iterative approach for developing ontologies through the reuse of component patterns. Also see the Ontology Design Pattern Tour. The Context, Story and Competency Questions below are designed to support this XD process.


An organization wants to set up a resource for its members to easily track the time spent in the various states of their decision-making. One of the goals is to provide situational awareness of the current/past/future decisions and time spent in the decision-making process. This may lead to improved tools for tracking/measuring information flow and streamlining the decision process.

Story: decision states

Decisions in this organization follow a typical information flow. First, a question is raised which starts the decision process. Second, the decision-maker spends time gathering information. Third, the decision-maker analyzes the information. Fourth, a decision is made. Fifth, the decision is described in some information format, perhaps in a text form or a slide presentation. Sixth, the decision is communicated to the intended audience, perhaps through a meeting, telecon, or e-mail. Seventh, feedback is gathered. And the process repeats. Each of these steps takes a certain amount of time and may involve a "waiting" subcycle. The decisions may serve as information input to other decisions and the latter must wait for the former to complete.

Competency questions (CQs) and contextual statements of decision information flow

  1.  When did a certain decision begin and end?
  2.  How much time was spent information gathering?
  3.  How much time was spent preparing the decision for presentation?
  4.  How much time expired between the decision being made and its communication to the intended audience?
  5.  How much time was spent information gathering/preparing/communicating versus analyzing/deciding?
  6.  How much time was spent "waiting" versus time spent processing the decision?
  7.  What's the average amount of time spent making decisions?

(Note: There are many other competency questions such as what was the subject matter of the decision, who made the decision, etc. but the ones mentioned above are particularly relevant for this use case focused on measuring decision/information flow via time spent in decision states.)

Background and Current Practice

This use case is derived from the need to measure the speed of information flow within an organization or enterprise. The objective is to determine a metric to measure whether the right information is getting to the right person at the right time. The decision process can be modeled as a sequence of states, some of which involve information gathering or information packaging and distribution. The amount of time spent in these states should be reduced if information is flowing effectively. The current practice is to look at indirect measures as opposed to having tools that are instrumented to produce a standardized decision representation to include time spent in decision states.


The goal is to ensure the states of decision making are represented and are usable for measuring the amount of time spent information gathering, packaging and distributing as opposed to states directly related to decision-making, such as assessing options, making decision, and assessing feedback.

In this use case, the goal is to capture, store and record time spent in various information processing states of the decision process to enable:

(1) users to assess the efficiency of the decision process from an information flow perspective;

(2) users to assess improvement from changes in organizational structure or tools designed to improve information flow;

(3) users to track individual information flow in the form of decision flow and time to process decisions across an organization to measure capability and efficiency of innovation.

Use Case Scenario

Employees of an organization can access a website tool showcasing a measure of information flow throughout an organization by showcasing the amount of time spent across the organization in key decision states.

Problems and Limitations

Cultural change implied by challenges to typical unscalable methods of communicating and packaging decisions, such as the use of slides, meetings, telecons, as opposed to lightweight, computer-oriented, flexible and immediate decision outputs.

Existing Work

[1] Information Velocity Metric for the Flow of Information Through an Organization: Application to Decision Support

[2] A Dynamic Process Model for the Design and Assessment of Network Centric Systems