Business Rules Explained to a Seven Year Old Kid

My son Robert is seven years old.  My wife Ileana (one of the smart persons in my company – her lapse in judgment in marrying me notwithstanding) and I were discussing business rules in the car and Robert asked what business rules were.

Now there is a good question.  How do you explain business rules in such a way that a seven year old can get it?

Here is what I told him: Business rules are the rules that the people in a company have to follow. Some rules are simple like “You can buy a Skylander for $10.” Others are more complicated like: “If you want to buy something that costs $10, you have to ask mommy or daddy, but if you want to buy something that costs $100 you have to ask BOTH mommy AND daddy.” Mommy and I build computer programs so that the people in the company have to follow the rules.

Years ago, I remember recognizing that when business rules are not enforced by the database, they always get violated from time to time.  Anyone who has ever had to work on a data migration project  knows that rules which are only enforced in the application layer are only somewhat more effective than a screen door on a submarine (it keeps the fish out). With Robert, we have a very formal business rule: “You can only watch the computer 30 minutes a day”.  Yeah right, unless…

  1. I really want him to read more or…
  2. I need him to play the piano more or…
  3. Ileana and I want some time to ourselves or…
  4. I am not watching carefully enough or…
  5. He whines enough that I just can’t take it anymore.

Of course, Robert (being a really bright kid) knows ALL of the exceptions to the rule and he plays me with greater skill than I suspect he will ever play the piano.

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