Saket’s phrase about extending ERP beyond the flows of time, money and materials seems to resonate loudly in these conversations, but the P stands for planning. We may want to track influences and may indeed plan some, but we clearly don’t plan all of them by any stretch. And I’m not sure influence is a Resource quite like money and materials either.
So we’ve found that we often refer back to some of the biological metaphors that have emerged during our discussions. If there is any planning or controlling or management then it’s analogous to our bodies own nervous system and brain: sensory neurons detect / receive data and information; interneurons transfer and interpret; the brain does what it does; and motor neurons send appropriate instructions / responses.
It sounded a bit odd at first until we realized how many biology related metaphors already pepper our vocabulary: the heart of the business, and the pulse; the lifeblood of the business; getting a project up and running; the ears, eyes and mouth of the business; the muscle and the fat.
John put us more at ease by sending round some quotes by Bill Gates from his 1999 book Business @ the Speed of Thought. Gates refers to “the digital nervous system” of business and calls information flow the lifeblood. We thought if it was good enough for Mr. Gates a dozen years ago, it was good enough for us now.