When I was in university, I had a professor who told the class, “The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.”  It seems especially true in the software industry.  

 

As a product manager, one of my jobs is to make sure all the stakeholders I talk to are all using the same words and meanings for various concepts.  We have a strong group of people here with diverse experiences and backgrounds, and as an interesting result of this, a lot of us have different names and terms for the same concepts.

 

This recently came up in a discussion about data hierarchies, specifically in a BI context.  In a nutshell, all data hierarchies can be described by two attributes:  First, are all leaf nodes at the bottommost level, or can they appear at any level?  Second, is the parent exactly one level above the child, or can the parent be more than one level above the child?  Those are a lot of words that describe slight differences in four different hierarchy types.  It sure would be nice to have a concise term for each.

 

Well, as I mentioned, people with different backgrounds had different names for each, and a search on the internet revealed that many other organizations face the same issue.  Larger organizations such as Oracle face an exacerbated problem where different acquisitions historically used different terms for the same ideas, with those terms continuing to live on.

 

We didn’t want to invent any new terms either, since that would only add to the problem.  So, we went with a concise name that would align with the most common usage.  Here is what we came up with:  Balanced, Unbalanced, Skip-Level, and Ragged.

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How about you?  What terms are you using in your organization for these hierarchy types?

 

What other areas have you run into where different people in your organization uses different terms for the same ideas and concepts?