Enterprise methodology

Everyone agrees: the enterprise is a complex object, woven from many threads, continually obliged to adapt itself to an ever-changing world. How do we think of this complexity? How do we say everything about the enterprise without running the risk of omitting a decisive factor? How do we find the right ideas that will provide for the future?

It would be wrong to imagine that a single formula, like a magic spell, would suffice to comprehend this complex reality. We have to assemble many disciplines and link various centers of expertise. To foster synergy, we have to place them in an interdisciplinary framework, one that is coherent and able to leverage all the contributions. This requirement defines enterprise methodology.

Praxeme is an enterprise methodology, resulting from the initiative for an open method. It is based on an analysis of the Enterprise System and its internal logic. The procedures it offers cover all aspects of the enterprise, from ethics to infrastructure, from knowledge to logistics, including processes and organization.

It is one thing to have methods available for each aspect of the enterprise (methods for strategists, for organizers, for IT specialists or accountants, etc.); it is another thing to meticulously articulate them so as to obtain a harmonious transformation chain. The original concern for Praxeme was precisely that: to answer the need to coordinate the disparate specialties, all equally legitimate and necessary, but which communicate with difficulty.

This need is felt, first of all, by the heads of businesses and public sector organizations and is particularly strongly felt by those whose organizations are confronted by change. Faced with the heterogeneity of the proposals, decision-makers seek a general framework that can optimize the investment: if they focus the effort on one point of the transformation chain, if they sacrifice themselves to the urgencies of the moment, they need assurance that this action will be part of a broader plan, deployed across all the dimensions of the enterprise. They also seek ways to stimulate innovation, not only by copying what the competition is doing or adopting the latest technologies, but also by taking a fresh look at the business, by moving away from the center, by reinventing themselves. Yet, human psychology, the forces of preservation, the games actors play… all conspire to prevent this transformation.

Consequently, it is an absolute necessity to have at one’s disposal a method that reveals the phenomena at work and which provides concrete means to overcome them. The primary contribution from Praxeme is an awareness of the complexity and the recognition of the cognitive universes that must be connected and solicited. Ethics, terminology, metrology, modeling, sociology and systems architecture are some of the disciplines that enable us to approach the enterprise reality. They produce representations that the method helps to formalize and connect. For example, process design is inspired by ethical requirements, that is to say the values stated by the enterprise. Similarly, the information system follows from the business models, according to the derivation rules that guarantee its alignment and its agility.

Praxeme has been applied on different scales and in all sectors of activity. The applications include the overhaul of information systems, innovation in armament systems, modeling transport systems, evolving practices, the convergence between systems or businesses in a federation of enterprises, interoperability… The French government, in order to carry out its important state modernization programs, recommends using this method.

Given its ambition, Praxeme is a permanent work in progress. The initiative wants to be open, in both senses, where it welcomes contributions and makes its results available to all, royalty-free. Version 1 is available in the form of methodological guides that lay the foundations. Version 2 is currently being written and will complete the corpus with procedure sheets targeting the different actors in the transformation. The Praxeme Institute, a not-for-profit, state-approved association, coordinates the work and ensures the spirit of openness is respected.

For more information:

Ethics in the enterprise

Over these last few years, we have seen charters and codes of ethics flourish in enterprises and the notion of corporate social responsibility become widespread.

We can delight in this phenomenon, which reflects more than just an awareness of the role and nature of the enterprise: it also shows a time where ideologies have come flooding back, institutions usually full of sense and morality no longer suffice to produce and actualize the value discourse.

Yet, is it so natural, for the enterprise, to get itself mixed up in ethics? Are there not side effects and risks?

In preparation for the development of the axiological procedures (on values) in the enterprise methodology, Dominique Vauquier has published a paper on the Praxeme Institute website.

  • Review: the discourse on values; risks and stakes.
  • Issues: enterprise ethics cannot be taken for granted; it comes up against the fact that, within the enterprise, the individual is considered as a resource, in contradiction with the categorical imperative that a human-being must always be considered as an end in himself or herself, never as a means (Emmanuel Kant). It is a good thing that ethics is developing in the enterprise but it can only ever be sincere if we face up to its problematic nature.
  • Methodology: the paper presents two procedures “Elucidate the values” and “Negotiate the values”, as well as the analytical framework for ethical models.

See: Praxeme Institute web page.

Notice: this document is not an element of the method but the preparatory thoughts on the subject. The procedures will be developed according to the contributions and opportunities that arise.

Aspects and Views

The Entreprise System Topology, the reference framework proposed by Praxeme, identifies aspects. This notion has often raised questions or been confused with that of view. The term “view” is the most frequently used one in the methodological literature of the past two decades. This blog entry specifies both notions and justifies why the term “aspect” has been kept in the foundations of the enterprise methodology.


Sources: “view” and “viewpoint” in IEEE Std 1471-2000. Cigref and Club Urba. A view presupposes that an actor looks at something. It gives access to one part of the observed reality, from the viewpoint of this actor. It therefore expresses subjectivity: the situation of the subject faced with the reality. Its advantage lies in communication as it establishes itself specifically compared to the needs and language of a certain type of actor.


For a long time, methodology, notably with Merise, spoke in terms of levels of abstraction or levels of concern. These levels were clearly distinct from views, which were also defined, at the same period of time and in the same methods. So the levels were given as being more fundamental, more essential than views. These methods first defined levels as expressing the internal structure of the system. The views were thus defined secondarily in their relation to the actors and for communication purposes. For example, Merise distinguishes the “external views” from the data model. The data model provides the complete and normalized data structure, whereas the external views present an extract of it, potentially denormalized, for a particular use.
The term “level”, nevertheless, was unfortunate insofar as it infers a certain idea of hierarchy and therefore of value.


It is evident, in any case, that we do need two notions. When we look at a cube, for example, we never see all the sides. We can form several representations of it, take several views of it, and we have to go around the object in order to detect all its sides.
When we look to fully represent the cube and to link the views, it is useful to know that this object has six sides, even if this idea does not come to us from experience but from understanding. Geometry comes before the geometric drawing.
The reference framework at the foundation of Praxeme targets the internal organization of the Enterprise System, regardless of who observes it. It is a prerequisite for mastering the mass of knowledge, information and decisions that concern this complex object. We try to extract its internal logic, prior to any methodological development and well before we tackle the questions involving the actors: responsibility, organization of the transformation, communication, etc. In so doing, Praxeme aligns itself in the continuation of Merise, in contrast with the Anglo-American methods, which, over the past decades, have retained only the notion of view and concentrated their efforts on communication to the detriment of the system’s internal logic.
In order to qualify these domains that structure the reality of the enterprise, regardless of the observer, Praxeme has chosen the term “aspect”.

Illustration of the difference between aspect and view

This distinction, essential for the theory of knowledge, is revealed in the use of both terms and in the qualifiers that accompany them. We will illustrate this, in this paragraph, using the intentional aspect as defined in the Enterprise System Topology. This aspect, the first in the order determination, gathers all expressions of the will of the enterprise: its values, its objectives, the requirements, the indicators (often intimately associated with the objectives) and its vocabulary. Praxeme does not impose a structure for this aspect. The method contents itself with distinguishing the types of elements of intention, leaving us to structure the aspect as we see fit. There is therefore an architectural decision to be made for the intentional aspect as well:

  • either we structure it using the sources (the emitters or the original documents, often consisting of different types of elements),
  • or we opt for a specific criterion, with a notion of domain as with any other aspect.

Thus, the intentional aspect has its own structure and obeys its own rules that do not necessarily reflect usage. Consequently, it becomes of interest to define some views that will facilitate communication with specific profiles of actors, for example:

  • an ethical view, centered on the enterprise values and including how they impact on the other aspects of the Enterprise System;
  • a metrological view, consisting of indicators, their links with the transformation objectives, as well as their projection towards the business concepts, the activities or any other type of element in the other aspects;
  • a terminological view, expressed by the enterprise thesaurus and showing, in addition to the terms, the traceability links that connect them to the other elements.

The views are sub-products that answer the needs for communication and manipulation; they are therefore linked to uses. The method has to meet these needs without altering the logic of the internal structure of the Enterprise System. It obtains this by distinguishing both the notion of aspect and that of view.

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