Monthly Archives: November 2015

Business rules type defining how to navigate your product or service

NavigateIf you have been following this series of posts on business rules and been applying some of the tips into practice, then by now you would have defined your team and identified what you need to acquire to guarantee your product’s or service’s success. At this point, it is time to think about designing your product or service. And as you do it, you will discover that this is not only about the structure you define for your product or service, but you also need to define how you as a producer and on the other hand the customer are going to navigate your product or service during its creation/production, launch and use.

I have probably puzzled you with this statement. Here are some clues to solve this riddle.

In the post about various business rules types, I illustrated this issue briefly on the example of switching on a vacuum cleaner. The customer being used to how his old vacuum cleaner worked, would try to use it in the same way. So it is your obligation to make your customer aware of how to start using your innovative product and what to do if something is amiss.

Let me illustrate this on a service example. If you are a hairdresser, you will have a different view and the way how your start “using” your shop than your customer. When you enter your shop in the morning, you start by switching off the alarm, switching on the lights and coffee-maker (at least this is what I would do as one of the very first steps, if I would own that shop), then you go to the back of the shop, leave your purse and coat there, wash your hands and start preparing your business for opening. When a customer comes into your hair-dressing shop, she enters it without pulling out any keys, takes her coat off and hangs it on the coat-rack, then finally takes a seat on a sofa or a chair to wait for her turn. Then later when you call her to take a seat on chair in front of a mirror, and you would wheel her chair to a sink to wash her hair or pull the mobile sink to her.

“Wait a minute,” your customer raises her hand to stop my flow in this example. “What do I have to do before I have my hair cut? Shall I make an appointment? If yes, what number shall I call, or can I make an appointment on-line?”

“No, no,” you say. “I work without appointments. You simply come and wait, if I am busy with other customers. But I don’t expect long waiting times.” Then you turn to me and say, “I am not going to have a sink. And neither wash customer’s hair. I am creating one of those express hairdresser shops, where you are served quickly and qualitatively.” You wait a little for me to assess.

I nod. “Ah, OK. Actually, I usually go to one of those.”

You, relieved as if you would think that people might judge for having this in mind, say, “So I just will use a spray bottle with water to wet the hair before cutting.”

After all this brainstorming and seeing your shop from both points of view – yours and that of the customer – you realize that it is much more to it, than just structuring your shop into the front, middle, and back. You might want to think of it functionally, such as office, entrance, waiting, hair-cutting, and cash-register areas. And you need to think how you your customer accesses and uses different areas.

For example, you might not often take a seat on the sofa you’ve purchased for your customers to sit on, while waiting for their turn. Unless of courses you join one or a group of them for a chat and a cup of coffee. Your most frequent use of it will be probably confined to cleaning/dusting it. So, you’ll be its maintainer.

Your customer on the other hand will never enter your office at the back of the shop, unless she is a member of your family or a close friend. So her usual relation to your office would be a mere glance at the opened door and a second of wondering how it might look inside.

I will call again S1000D® (International specification for technical publications) for help. Apart from offering how to define a breakdown (or in other words structure) of a product, it has two very useful terms, which can serve you as tools while designing your product or service.

These are zones and access points.

Their definition in the Specification (S1000D, Issue 4.1, Chapter 3.4, Para 1), might seem a little sophisticated:

When indicating the location of the Product equipments, assemblies, access doors and panels, ports, etc within data modules and identifying locations for maintenance planning, the Product is divided into areas and sub-areas known as zones.”

To put this in a simpler and more general wording, we can say the zones provide you with another method to structure your product or service in addition to the one you thought of in the first place. So, if you structured your hairdresser-s’ shop functionally into office, cutting, waiting, coffee-machine and other areas, then your zones might be front, middle and back, as well as right, middle and left sides of the shop.

Access points are the points, where you or your customer access the product during its launch or use. These will differ for you and the customer. For example, you and your customer will stay at the different sides of a cash register. She will use the card reader to pay, and you will operate the cash register.

So when planning and designing your product or service, find at least two different ways to structure it: physically and functionally, both from your and your customer’s points of views. Then define the access points for the launch, maintenance, use, trouble shooting, and other scenarios you can think of for the operation of your product or service.

And if you haven’t noticed it yet, let me point out one of the multiple loops in the business rules definition process, which quietly emerged while we discussed your product’s and service’s design. When you structure your product and decide on the best ways to navigate it, you will identify further items or services, as well as further team-players needed to be acquired/employed in addition to those you identified already for your product or service to function.


This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2015-2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Countdown to the first book in series “A Life Upside Down” – coming within the next 10 weeks

My editor is half-way through the second book I am self-publishing. This will be the first book in a series. The series name is “A Life Upside Down”, and the first book is “A Spy’s Daughter”.

When I asked the editor, how the edit was progressing, he gave me very uplifting feedback about my writing and the story, and said, “Go ahead, tell your friends.”

So this is what I am doing today. Letting you know that it is coming soon. Like with the first book, I am not sure how much time exactly it will take me to get it out into the world. But ten weeks will definitely be sufficient.

I have a hidden hope that I will manage to publish it before Christmas. But … psst, don’t tell anyone … and you also should forget I told you that. If it works out, then it will be my Christmas surprise for you. 🙂

The prequel, I mentioned several times before, will come out next year. I will include its description and one for the second book in the series at the end of the first book.

See below a short description of “A Spy’s Daughter” and a small excerpt from a chapter toward the end of the book (Note: it hasn’t seen its final edit yet).


Hannah doesn’t have a husband or a boyfriend. She doesn’t have a mother either. Her mother died long ago. But Hannah still thinks of herself as a happy person. Mostly due to her family — her father, sister and her two uncles — who love and support her. And because she has an exciting job, with great colleagues. Which is not that common in the post-Soviet Moldova. Soon their lab will have a state-of-the-art high-resolution microscope to take their research to a new level.

And she, Hannah (who thinks her name is Victoria) must go to collect this microscope from Germany. All she needs is a visa. Which could be a challenge. But she has prepared all the necessary documents to convince the authorities to issue one to her.

The day before her appointment at the German embassy, she finds out that she won’t have any issues with a travel visa, because she doesn’t need one. To her utter surprise, Hannah learns from her father that she has dual citizenship, Moldovan and American. And more surprising still is one tiny additional detail he now reveals about her mother.

That she had been an American spy.


When did the destiny decide to blow her life into a suspense thriller?

All that chase and trouble was just to build a trap for her. But not because she was special or dangerous, simply because she was a spy’s daughter.

In this moment, she heard her mother’s words, which she told Hannah when a boy at school claimed that Hannah snitched her friends to the teachers. “Even a foul’s game is just a game,” she said. “Take a step back, look at it and change the rules.”

An unexpected wave of warmth washed over Hannah as she recalled her mother’s voice, which she thought she had forgotten. “Change the rules and make it your game.”

Hannah didn’t know how to play this game, which she knew was dangerous. She didn’t know yet how to make it her game. But she realized that she knew exactly what her next move should be.

Picture: An airplane above Aalborg.


Business rules type revealing what you need to acquire for your product or service

AcquirementBRtypeThis week we will discuss business rules type, which will reveal what you need to acquire in order to create your product or get (keep) your service going.

This could be one time (or one at a time) purchase when you launch or make a change in your business, or it can be a regular purchase like olive oil and salt if you own a restaurant.

There is something you will discover when you start defining more than one type of business rules. You will discover that the business rules are not simply a list of rules. When you make decisions about your product or service you rather define a network of rules.

For example, you might have thought after last week’s post that you know your team inside your company and you know it outside your department as well, such as all your partners, sub-contractors, suppliers and you know (at least to a degree) your customer.

But when you look at what you need to purchase and get hold of for your business to operate successfully, then you might find out that there is a person or role, of whom  you haven’t thought before, but whom you need in your project team. And you might have already asked yourself last week what materials, software, hardware, etc. you might need to acquire for your project team to function.

Again including your customer. What hardware or environment does your customer need in order to be able to use your app, for example? Or will you assure that you produce an app working on any kind of hardware? Then you would need to get hold of this “any” kind of hardware in order to test your app.

There are obvious things and means you will immediately know of needing as soon as think of your product. A hair-dresser will need scissors, hair brushes and combs. A writer will need a notebook, a pen, a computer, a printer, etc. There will be variations too, depending on your preferences to carry out the work. If you are a writer, you might prefer to make handwritten notes on your book or even write it by hand (as I sometimes do, but not this time), or you might be a writer who types your text immediately (as I do it this time). If you are a computer gig of a writer, then you would not need as many pens as a hand-writing writer. And with computers of course, you would think of a model to use, then of a software to purchase.

And sometimes you need to go there and back in your decisions. For example, I am used to Windows® and I am simply lazy to learn a new for me system like Apple®. So I have a Windows computer. At the beginning I used Microsoft Word® for my writing, but after much praise from others and after giving a very skeptical (at the beginning) try to Scrivener (a software used widely by writers of various genres), I fell in love with this software and use it for any piece of writing I am doing (like today). When I formatted my first novel for publishing I discovered that Scrivener® for Windows didn’t have some of the functionalities, which Scrivener for Mac had.

Complaining didn’t help. I needed a solution. If I would know about Scrivener before purchasing my current computer, I might have bought a Mac. Maybe not. At least now, after finding out what I can do to format well, without purchasing a new computer and go around those missing and useful functionalities, I might as well stay with Windows, even at the point when I will need a new laptop.

So decide in the circumstances you are, and try to think a few steps ahead. But maybe not too many. Concentrate on the solutions and possibilities.

This was about the obvious means for your product and service.

But there is something extremely important to acquire in order to guarantee success for your product and service, and which rarely pops up inside our minds as the first requirement.

And this something is knowledge.

Some of you might nod at this and some might ask, “Huh, what do you mean by that?”

There is a two-fold meaning for knowledge here.

First of all you have to find out what you need to have in place in order to start with production or roll out the service.

I guarantee, you will be surprised along the way.

I was shocked to find out that for technical documentations, S1000D® (International specification for technical publications), as a standard, was not enough. Not only there were other standards on how to capture data on parts and materials, and how to capture correctly the language so it is correctly understood by operators of a complex machinery, such as an airplane. But there were standards prescribing the formatting of the information at its output.

Even today, more than ten years after, I can remember almost each word of the questions I put when confronted with this information at the German Defense department I have been working between 2004 and 2006. “Doesn’t S1000D define exactly how you have to format each tiny little bit of text and data? Why do we have to follow another standards as well? Aren’t those outdated? Why not just following S1000D?”

The answer was friendly and precise. “Well, first of all S1000D is a specification, which means that everything inside it can be followed but doesn’t have to. And the definition it offers are sometimes not precise enough.” A few years later the text in S1000D went even further saying that the output and formatting definitions were recommendations and not rules.

And I learned about the cases, where the “violation” of those recommendations was vital.

One of the most prominent examples in this respect are warnings.

According to S1000D (Issue 4.1, Chapter 3.9.3):

Warnings are used in data modules and technical publications to alert the user that possible hazard are associated with the materials/processes/procedures/limits. These can cause death or injury in any form if the instructions in the operational or procedural task are not followed precisely. Warnings describe the hazards and the possible impact.”

So understandably the standard way to format them is in red colour. Usually a frame around it warning red. But you wouldn’t want to mark your warnings in red on submarines. At least on those, where red light is used for interior lighting while in combat. Even if you might not quite understand the physics behind the good reason why they do it (find out more here), you want to make sure that the crew on the submarine you produce is safe and is warned correspondingly on possible dangers during its operation.

How do you acquire knowledge about what you need? Yes, by research and interviewing the others who do it. You might think that competitors would be afraid to give you any particular details, but you will be surprised how much valuable information you will get, because many want to share their lessons learned and warn of the pit-falls.

But knowing what you need is not enough. There is another aspect to knowing. As soon as you find out what you need, you have to find out more details about what you need.

In the example above with the rule of how to format and present warnings inside a submarine, it is not enough to know that there is a particular rule, you need to know what the rule is about.

It is not enough to know that some of the mobile phone batteries are not allowed to be used in the country of your residence and business, you have to know which those are, so that you don’t put the wrong batteries into the mobiles you want to sell.

It is not enough to know that there is a certain slang the young adults use these days, you have to know the words and how they are used in order to write an appealing book for young adults.

And here is another surprise. When you learn more about what you need for your product or service, you might find out that there are people, materials, hardware, software and many other, whom and which you would need as well and haven’t thought before.

Of course you need to focus on a feasible minimum and make a start. Endless planning and deciding will not launch your product or service. You need to decide on the qualitative minimum and see how the demand will shape what you offer for sale.

Yes, starting and running a business is a strategy game. As well as the definition of business rules. It is a strategy game too. And next week we will make our next move.


This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2015-2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 6

“Dying?” Elizabeth looked at the small girl upstairs, then at Alice standing next to her.

Alice opened her mouth.

“Yes,” the bell-like voice said from the balcony above, not allowing Alice to say a word. “All who come here come whether to die soon or to get a better diagnosis.”

“You mean—?”

“Yes.” the corkscrew spiralled locks swung on the round head shining like a light bulb. “Just like me! I had brain tumour and now I am cured. So, I can leave. Now I stay a few days to prepare my room for another girl with cancer. But Grannie Sissy wasn’t so lucky.”

Was she talking about the woman, who was carried out two days before? So she was d—

“Lily, honey.” Alice fixed the girl with her gaze. Then she turned to Elizabeth. “Um …”

“Oh, I’m Elizabeth. My father used to call me Liza.”

Alice nodded. “Liza is new here, so we better take it slow.”

“Ah.” A knowing look shot from above. “Then she needs a hope chocolate.”

Elizabeth smiled. “I love hot chocolate.”

Lily hopped down the stairs and laughed. “Not hot chocolate. Well, it is hot. But it’s a special hope hot chocolate. You only can get it here.”

“Kitchen is over here,” Alice held her arm pointing into the hall leading into the left wing of the house.

Hm, thought Liza. Wasn’t the kitchen to the right when she was here last? When was the last time she was here?

They entered a large square room, the edges of which were smoothened by a large round table in the middle and the furniture arranged into a dashed bows around the table, hiding the corners of the room behind it.

A middle-aged woman with a face so much like Alice’s sat at the table and fed an old man with a pinkish mash.

“Mum, here’s someone who wants to talk to Patrick,” said Alice and unveiled the obvious relationship with the woman at the table.

The woman smiled, nodded to Elizabeth and turned back to the man she was feeding.

The man seemed to be very old, with several bushes of grey and white, straight and unwilling hair looking in all directions. He ignored Elizabeth and instead fixed his gaze on Alice’s mother. He smiled too. But the look was not of a friend. It was rather of a young man thinking what would be his next move to seduce the woman in front of him.

Lily hopped onto the chair next to the man. “Steve, now we have one more pretty girl in the house.” She turned to Elizabeth. “Steve is flirting with everyone here. Even with me! And I am not even ten.” Lily giggled.

“He avoids flirting with Patrick though.” Alice’s mother winked at Steve who put his right hand on his forehead raising his look to the ceiling, sighed and returned to his previous position hypnotizing Alice’s mother.

“Leeza,” said Lily. “You should sit here next to me. Alice will make hope chocolate for us.”

“Isn’t this the task of all healthy people in the house?” Alice grinned and headed to the counter behind her mother.

“Oh yes, I forgot!” Lily jumped onto her feet and grabbed Elizabeth’s arm. “What’s your favourite colour?”

“Um, red.”

“Oh, yes, we have red mugs.” Lily hopped with three steps to Alice’s side, took out a red and a green mugs out of the drawer in front of them and put them on the counter. With a small jump she landed behind Alice’s mother and wrapped her arms around the woman’s neck. “Ingrid, would you like some hope hot chocolate too?” Lily threw a sheepish look at Elizabeth.

Ingrid gently pressed one of Lily’s arms with her left ear. “Yes, sweetie, I’d love one. And make one for Steve too. But not so hot.” She winked at Steve again, whose grin widened.

The conversation stopped. It was replaced with kettle whistling, cocoa spoons counting, tea-spoons clinking on the mugs walls, wiping of Steve’s mouth and brining his bowl to the sink. Alice, Ingrid and Lily seemed to follow an unknown choreography, where they moved alongside each other, switching places at the stove, sink and counter-tops without much looking at and without disturbing each other. This dance accompanied with kitchen appliances music mesmerized not only Steve but Elizabeth too.

Mugs with steaming, thick liquid, warming the air with its sweet aroma, were set along the table’s circle, and a large plate with biscuits got its place in the centre. Lily, Ingrid and Alice took their places at the table, the latter leaving a large gap not quite filled out by the three empty chairs on Elizabeth’s left.

“Liza. Is it short for Elizabeth?” Ingrid asked as she held Steve’s mug to his lips. Steve sipped slowly, with his left eye squinted and the right one peering at Ingrid. He seemed oblivious of all the other present in the room.

Elizabeth nodded. “Yes, my father was from Ukraine and he shortened it in a way he knew from his youth.”

“I thought it was strange how you said it,” Lily chimed in. “Leeza.” She giggled.

“So, how do you know Patrick?”

“Mum,” Alice put a hand on her mother’s arm. “Liza doesn’t know Patrick, or about this house … and what we do here.”

“Oh. I thought we were famous.”

“I don’t think Liza is from here.”

Ingrid sat straight in her chair. “Now this is intriguing. Where are you from?”


Picture: The beautiful path I take everyday on the way to my daughter’s nursery.


P.S. Chapter 7 will be written and posted in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at the page “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think you have friends who could like this story, feel free to forward it to them.


Everything except one paragraph  (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2015-2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Mid-month news: November 2015

First month of the new business

Fun, scary, unforgettable experience.

I’ve learned a lot in this time. And of course I am still learning.

I discovered the hidden for me clichés from the cultures I’ve been raised and being exposed too.

I thought that I wouldn’t be able to find work as a business owner and a freelancer, if I haven’t applied for the smallest possible and least payable jobs. This does sound strange. But the phrase, “You have to start at the very beginning and work your way up.” did mean for me exactly this. I thought that I all I’ve learned and experienced before didn’t matter and I had to do everything from the very beginning.

But then, when I shared my experiences on various platforms, I noticed growing interest in what I can offer. They didn’t want me to type their hand-written notes, they wanted to hear about my experience as a writer of fiction based on a true story, they wanted to learn S1000D from me, they wanted to learn and hear more from me on business rules.

And they told me that I drew them into these topics, that they were glad to have met/discovered me, that they wanted to work with me on common projects and that they were ready to pay me for my work.

That was quite a revelation. It was an epiphany that I can earn money by doing what I love. And by discovering more and more things, which I fall in love with doing.

Of course, the in-security is there. Whether I am able to earn enough money for living with what I have to offer. But what helps is to realize that this in-security might have some value, if I notice and don’t judge it. In such a case it can show me that it is time to be active and do something.

I am very grateful to have discovered the brilliance of moment of now and the value of true listening. Listening to what other have to say, without judging what and how the say it, and without judging my inner reactions to these, helped me stop complaining (especially in my thoughts) and come up with some great ideas, and take concrete steps to bring them into life.

Through listening and seeing what people value and want, I discovered that both money and the sense of well-being, being centred, come when I concentrate and put my energy to bring value to others. When I turn the focus off from me and get interested in what is important for people around me, then everything else falls in place.

Listening and reading inspiring articles in this direction helped a lot as well.

“Shift your focus away from what you want (a billion dollars) and get deeply, intensely curious about what the world wants and needs.” Justine Musk  on Quora

Words like this helped me turn my focus to what really matters in the world and matters to me. My worries don’t really matter to me. The well-being of others does. This was an interesting discovery.

Right now as I write this article I realize that this direction is completely in sync with the mission and vision I have defined for my business.

This is what have driven me in the last two weeks and brought most results in my business. And the most satisfaction.

Here is what this means concretely.



I have developed several interactive courses, which would help professionals succeed in there endeavours.

Here they are:



Two training courses this week.

One is introduction to S1000D. Experimenting to perform this course in a short time, and in a highly interactive way,  was extremely fun and resulted in further collaboration with the customer.

The second course this week is course on “Creative Nonfiction and Fiction Based on True Stories”. I do it for the South Gate Society School of Creative Writing in Aalborg. I research and learn on these topics, discovering many exciting things about myself, the cultures I grew up in, and the culture I am fortunate to experience now.



It’s amazing how many exciting projects appear as soon as I stop worrying what to write next and just concentrate on what is needed and wanted by others.

There are quite a few works in progress.

My second book “A Spy’s Daughter” is with my editor and will come later this week. I am very excited to discover the editing results and see how it will shape the book.

The prequel the series “A Life Upside Down” (”A Spy’s Daughter” is the 1st book in the series) is ready written and typed and enjoys its well-earned 2 weeks break until I will self edit. The title is also to 99% decided. Here I reveal it. It will be named “Seven Broken Pieces” and will be a short story or novelette consisting of 7 chapters.

I had an idea that I would never write non-fiction. Now I write two books in non-fiction and just started the third one.

One of them is on Business Rules and making them understandable for everyone who might need to define them. I post on this topic every week and at the beginning of the next year, this material will be compiled into a book, edited and published.

The second is to inspire writers and give them a clue how they can discover pearls in their writing. We are all too critical about what we do, but all of us create brilliant things, which we often chose to avoid looking at. But these wonderful things are cherished by others and by appreciating them, we can create more wonderful and valuable treasures. The working title of this one is “Let me be your cheerleader”. The subtitle is still in work. The idea for this book was inspired by my personal cheerleader and dear friend Marcy, who discovered me through this blog and who became one of my dearest friends. She saw me through the writing of my first book and also reads most of my writing as I create it. This book is to give this gift further and also to help Marcy and me realize a big wish of ours, to meet one day in person.

And the third one, some words of introduction of which I have written just this morning, has a working title “Everywhere at Home” and will be a collection of memoir essays about me being in various parts the world at various times of growing up and being adult, and what experiences I made.

I am very excited to discover what the next month will bring and I will share it with you.

Thank you for reading this. Have a wonderful end of the Fall and a beautiful winter start.

Picture: November bloom in our garden.