Why 'xio consulting'?


About the name and the logo

Like every other consultancy business, we spent ages trying to find a name which properly describes what my colleagues and I actually do. We tried all manner of TechnoGreek names ('skillsys', 'metadigm', 'qispace', 'systatis' and so on), but they were all either hopelessly clumsy and/or already taken as domain-names. Eventually we just gave up; and then tried what we should have done in the first place, namely create a visual metaphor.

three-d xioMy own work tends to be focussed on overall business strategy, using a blend of requirements analysis, quality-system design and IT system-modelling backed by long experience in industrial psychology and skills education. My colleagues concentrate on related issues such as system infrastructure and disaster-recovery planning. So, in effect, most of our work consists of identifying hidden assumptions and other twists in system designs - whether in the IT side, in the 'people' side, or in the overall procedures and planning - and helping companies resolve them. These twists can create some weird mismatches between nominal requirements and effective implementation... a bit like a Möbius loop, where the inside becomes the outside without any actual change, and nothing is ever quite where it seems. Very often, too, these twists can become concealed behind a defensive screen, which we're always careful to respect - things are the way they are because they got that way, not because someone's to blame! With that in mind, we came up with the hand-drawn image shown on the right.

face-on xioThen I turned the image 'face-on', so to speak, and simplified it down to the bare essentials, as shown on the left - at which point three letters seemed to stand out: an 'X', in the twist; an 'I', for the strip of the Mobius loop, and an 'O', formed by that defensive ring. Which in turn suggested 'XIO' as a short, simple name - and hence 'xio consulting' for an overall name for the business.

And whilst the 'xio.com' domain-name was already taken - sort-of* - the 'xio.com.au' name wasn't: and as we're primarily based in Australia, it all fitted together well.

The name 'XIO' also has some nice connotations:
  • 'XIO' is an old computer-hardware term for an 'eXtended Input/Output' board, combining both serial and parallel communications - and one of our aims is to improve communications within a company by any means available;
  • think of noughts-and-crosses, or tic-tac-toe: the 'I' stands between, and separates or distinguishes, the 'X's from the 'O's - metaphorically, sorting requirements into their appropriate places to create a winning strategy;
  • 'xi' is an alternate transliteration for 'ch'i', a common Chinese term for 'energy' in a human sense - and much of our work (mine especially) is about helping staff understand and improve the energy-dynamics within a company.

So that's the reason for the name, and the logo: makes sense, I hope?

(There is an existing web-site at the http://www.xio.com domain, which appears to be a joint home-page for four young-ish ex-Microsoft employees, and which may once have been intended as a home-page for a shared software project. But it doesn't seem to have been active as such for some years: most of the links now either stop dead, or point to descriptions of their most recent holidays and the like.)