Innovating strategic management and business design through Interweaving
I have just come back from presenting two novel techniques from the Interweaving and Concept Development practices at the VMBO 2019 research conference.
These techniques enrich the value of information products, canvases, diagrams, and models.
In a later post Ill share the techniques and why they are important. But here is a teaser.
Maestro Henry Mintzberg provides an example of Boxology in the “Manageable and Unmanageable Managing” article.
Boxology is ideas, ways and principles that frame the idea of the Box. A Box represent an important Mockafjong, which is a beautiful thingymajig. It is something wondrous, fascinating and important to talk about.
Boxology was created as a result from ironical and empirical research. It is often used and considered as important in practices such as, management, business analysis, business architecture, and enterprise architecture. There, colorful boxes appear in powerpoint presentations, analysis, and diagrams to capture the audiences interests.
Digital transformation journey's can and are described by a manifold of stories. A digital Transformation is not only …
… strategy (aspiration, plan) but also digital technologies (enabler)
… operations (stability) but also innovation and transformation(change)
… the organisation (inside) but also the environment (outside)
… doing but also values
Each story adds a piece but what happens when you put them all together? What story is that?
The book “The NEO-Generalist” is a fascinating read, with a surprising connection to Interweaving. It turns out that neo-generalists would make excellent Interweavers with their mind-sets.
A few example quotes from the book “The NEO-Generalist”, by Kenneth Mikkelsen, Richard Martin, 2016, to illustrates the point.
“A neo-generalist is a serial specialist that traverse the space in-between the polarities.”
A Mockafjong is a beautiful thingymajig. It is something wondrous, fascinating and important to talk about.
When you find yourself in discussions where you wonder what you really are talking about. Try to replace the key “word” used to refer to the centre of the discussion with “Mockafjong”. Try replacing “digital transformation” or “capability” with “Mockafjong”.
Suddenly you all have to be careful about you say. You have to explain better without relying on peoples underlying and often widely different common sense. You become released from your languages biases.
What do you mean by “Mockafjong”? I, erm, hmm, mean …
A Talking Point Canvas is 1-page communication tool that has talking points for communication. The canvas organise talking points in illustrations, diagrams or boxes and they fit on an A5 to A2 paper, Powerpoint page, or a web page.
The purpose is typically to organise and focus communications, discussions and deliberations on a particular topic consisting of several talking points and dimensions.
An example, a SWOT canvas has the result of an assessment with results organised in two dimensions: internal-external, and evaluative better-worse. The 4 talking points are Strength (internal, better), Weakness (internal, worse), Opportunity (external, better), Threat (external, worse).
In many cases a talking point canvas presents a synthesis where assumptions, facts, hypothesis, decisions, vantage points, background analysis, details and dependencies are omitted for clarity and focus.
However, there exist a danger when discussing talking points in separation, without taking into consideration what is behind the surface and how the different talking points relate.
In the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Build a Strategic Narrative”, Mark Bonchek inspired me to share how stories are fused into the practice of Interweaving. What caught my eye was he’s recognition of the connection between a good story and a company’s strategy.
Interweaving embrace storytelling because it is a human centric and work oriented practice. I have touched the subject earlier and here I add another piece.
The new piece of Interweaving is that documention of structured knowledge and (point-of-)views, such as a strategy, business model or safety model, are accompanied by 3 kinds of stories (work to be done, narrative, logic).
The idea of Space occupy a centre place in building architecture and other disciplines that work with larger structures that inhabits people. While it may seem, on the surface, that building architects primarily shape physical walls and produce blueprints, they are deeply concerned with defining Spaces, and spaces between Spaces.
Spaces are not only important for buildings and ships, they are also highly relevant to organisations, communities, cyber-technical things, enterprises, theories of the firm, and other Unit-of-Interests.
The Interweaving practice and the Framework for Interweaving and Architecting (FIA) is the first practice and framework to recognise, accept, and incorporate Space as a fundamental aspect also for organisations, communities, and other artifacts.
The idea of Space is a fundamental part of the Forms Language. Introducing the Forms Language.
In the Space - At A Glance article the idea of Space is introduced, examplified, and charaterised.
In many peoples eyes the main focus and deliverables of architecting are blueprints, or specifications. A focus on blueprints can be found in Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture disciplines, practices, or frameworks, where architects deliver blueprints as result of an activity. It is often recommended to store and maintain the blueprint in repository as a single source of truth.
An example from the IIBA V3 BABOK “A guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge” and the The Business Architecture Perspective chapter.
“Business architecture models the enterprise in order to show how strategic concerns of key stakeholders are met and to support to support ongoing business transformation efforts. Business architecture provides architectural descriptions and views, referred to as blueprints, to provide a common understanding of the organization for the purpose of aligning strategic objectives with tactical demands.” … “Business architecture provides a blueprint that management can use to plan and execute strategies from both information technology (IT) and non-IT perspectives.”
However, this is only a part of what is created and maintained during Interweaving and Architecting.
The Interweaving practice and the “Work Oriented and Interweaving approach to Architecting” embrace a shift from a focus on blueprints towards production of knowledge, specifically the knowledge that is the most important to people (salient).
At the start of an Interweaving project, an initial frame and scope must be created, based on informed and practical reasoning, as well as on cost, time, quality, and other constraints. During a project, as more knowledge is acquired, the frame should be revisited to right-size the effort and expected benefits.
There are many ways to frame what is worked with and on. One way is to follow a dictionary definition or an organisational single source of truth. Other ways involve being informed at physical things such as building or a car, or starting from theories such as Theory of the Firm or Systems Thinking, or be compliant with legal definitions such as Enterprise or Undertaking.
In the article Introduction to What are we Interweaving or Architecting?, we have collected various types of Objects of Interweaving or Architecting.
The Work Oriented and Interweaving Approach to Architecting advocates a pragmatic approach. It uses a neutral name, Unit of Interest, to indicate what is of interest. There are several reasons for not directly using a term such as Enterprise, Business, Solution, or Building.
- In modern architecting, what is really interweaved or architected takes precedence over formal definitions. Boundaries have become fuzzy and are largely dependent on what clients desire. The combination of materials have a large influence on the frame of a Unit-of-Interest. Natural building materials determine primary kind of architect, although modern houses are increasingly computerised and integrated with the Internet of Things.
- Terms such as “Enterprise” have many senses and experts are divided on which one to use. Theoretical definitions are preferred over legal definitions despite being the most authoritative.
- Discussions based on formal or theoretical definitions often becomes infected with hard positions being taken. Time and energy is often wasted in such debates, with a poor project climate as a consequence.
- It is tempting to use a formal definition created by one profession or discipline. However it is wise to remember that an organisation or project consists of many different disciplines. The idea that one profession can and should establish a single source of truth is fraught with personal, legal and technical intricacies and are overcharged with political and ideological significations and misunderstandings and, even, terminological confusions.
The Interweaving and Architecting practices are human centred and work oriented approaches that aim to empower people with powerful means, means that realise worthwhile benefits and contribute to the desired state of affairs over the life cycle up to horizon. In this approach, qualities such understandable, workable, acceptable, agreeable, beneficial, and material are as important as theoretical concerns.
- What is the difference between a program, project manager and an Architect or Interweaver?
- If a business analyst and a business architect use the same techniques what is the difference?
- A designer design, a strategist formulate strategies, a business developer develops business models, what do an Architect or Interweaver do?
The Work Oriented and Interweaving approach to Architecting embrace a human centric and evolved practice. A practice where Architects or Interweavers can be seen as wearing manifold of hats. Each hat is worn with an interweaving lens, focusing on what is salient and what weaves people together. A lens that aims at delivering benefits to people and work they do with others. The architecting and interweaving services are complementary and supplementary.
In this section we present a collection of wearable hats. The identification and organisation have been influenced by the work of Cliff Moser, who is the author of. Architecture 3.0; the Disruptive Design Practice Handbook
The hat collection help explain to customers what an Architect and Interweaver do, and their needs for architecting and interweaving services
- Interweaver: An accommodator and helper that takes action to connect people, their work they do with others, motivation, creativity, aspirations, the possibilities of technology with the enterprise and its purpose; to make motivational, valuable, workable, acceptable, agreeable, feasible, suitable, and sustainable; to make fit, congruous, integrated, compatible, or consistent; to make agreement, in harmony, in alignment, in correspondence, or in conformance.
- Craftsman: A practical, skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable worker, on the professional and learning path from apprentice, to journeyman, through to master.
- Artist and Storyteller: An imaginative storyteller that generates novelties, creative insights, and visions, through comprehensive synthesis.
- Scientist: A performer of systematic methods, inquiry, analysis, and synthesis based on measurable evidence, aimed at acquiring or adjusting knowledge.
- Designer: An understander of human meaningfulness and needs that turns insight and the possibilities of technologies into innovative solutions, which are suitable, feasible, sustainable, motivational, valuable, workable, acceptable, and agreeable.
- Problem Solver: A thinker that uses intuition, logic, and techniques to create a solution for circumstances or situations regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with, or questions raised for consideration.
- Manager, Leader: A director and controller of coordinated activities in programs, projects, or other endeavours. A person with a high control or influence over follower(s), and can focus their attention and allocation of effort in order to achieve missions and objectives.
- Assistant: An aid and enabler that supplements, complements, and contributes to both work and deliverables.
- Advisor: A trusted suggester of practical, expert, and sound advice. A provider of information, guidance, recommendations, and answers to questions.
- Facilitator: A helper that makes something become easier for someone else, and that stimulates discussions, ideation, group engagement, learning, shared understanding, and the making of informed decisions and actions.
- Analyst, Evaluator: A student of the constituent parts and their interrelationships within a whole. Sometimes, a synthesiser and a combiner of parts into new wholes. A judge of something's merits, worth, quality, or significance.
- Interpreter, Modeller: An observer that translates observations, signs, measurements, and thoughts into documents, illustrations, or models.
- Researcher & Developer: An explorer of new knowledge, tools, ways of working and thinking, and technologies to create new or improved capabilities, and to enable decision making and work.
- Paraprofessional: A trained worker who is not a member of a profession but who assists a professional.
- Empathiser, Arbitrator: An understanding and sensitive person that deals with project difficulties and problems, errors and omissions in work, and that settles differences or decide on disputes.
- Overseer: A supervisor that watches over and directs the work of others, as part of quality management, assurance, and control.
- Information Designer: An explainer, planner, and maintainer of information, data to a particular audience to meet specific objectives as part of knowledge and information management.
- Enabler: A helper that provides and manages tools, guidance, methods, frameworks, systems, data repositories, services, and other means to projects and managers.
- Methodologist: A designer, analyst, and evaluator of ways of working, work specifications, processes, manageable activities and tasks roles, and deliverables in highly coordinated, distributed, and networked projects.
The interweaving and architecting knowledge is specifically usable for collaborative actions and joint work, such as facilitation, dialogue, discussion, debate, consideration, negotiation, advocacy, harmonisation, and standardisation.
The focus on salience and the interweave provides a backbone for organisational knowledge management and corporate memory. Enterprise Knowledge and Information Management can be built around and on top of these structures.
Furthermore, this focus forms an outline of an interweaving and architecting practice that is supplementary to and complementary with existing professions, such as strategists, business developer, analysts, organisational developers, and designers.
This particular kind of knowledge has a wide range of uses. Equipped with it, we can:
- develop an intuition for how things (parts of the world) relate to and depend on each other;
- correlate people’s perspectives, attitudes, and work;
- observe and deal with complications and complexities;
- share important information about our ‘togetherness’;
- socialise to create shared mental models and contribute to the collective body of knowledge;
- externalise knowledge into to diagrams, documents, and models;
- answer meaningful questions in our inquiries;
- engage in practical reasoning;
- measure, analyse, synthesise, assess, evaluate, verify, and validate;
- solve problems and take advantage of opportunities;
- simulate and evaluate options;
- analyse gaps and how the map and the world align or conform;
- gain insights and turn them into workable. acceptable, and agreeable actions that change the world;
- empathise with our neighbouring workers and professionals;
- coordinate and align work across boundaries;
- support divergent and convergent thinking;
- create designs and specifications;
- enrich collaborative decision making;
- plan and prepare for joint action and change;
- realise worthwhile benefits over the life cycle unto the horizon, that contribute to goals;
- monitor progress and measure performance;
- learn individually or organizationally;
- adjust our beliefs, behaviours, and plans in the presence of new knowledge; and
- much more.
The interweaving and architecting practices are human centred and work oriented approaches that aim to empower people with powerful means, means that realise worthwhile benefits over the life cycle up to horizon. We can easily recognise that knowledge is an essential and instrumental means. By exploring the interweaving and its different strands, we can build a collective body of knowledge, insights, and experiences that help make sense of the total picture.
The forms language is a key language that consists of ways of thinking, examples, principles and rules for how interweaving and architectural elements (material) are arranged. It can be viewed as a pattern language based on the vocabulary and characteristics of relevant and available interweaving and architectural elements (material). The forms language provides a repertoire that can be used to interpret, represent, evaluate, design, combine, and build parts of the world.
In organisations we find forms such as feedback loops, life cycles, production logic, common product platforms, organisational arrangements, PDCA loops, routines, work spaces, etc. etc. These forms can be identified and described in a forms language and its catalogues. See examples of forms at the end of the article.
An interweaved or architected artifact, enterprise, or company is largely the result of a deliberate use of a specific forms language chosen by interweavers and architects.
A Forms language can be designed to focus on …
- maximising inhabitants well-being,
- use of space,
- contribution to overall purpose or vision,
- cost-cutting, operational excellence,
- increasing shareholder values, or
- the accommodation of any other set of interests chosen by interested parties, stockholders or architects.
In many cases, a chosen forms language favour accommodation of the interests of either clients, banks and insurances companies, the society, architects or the inhabitants. Here we find significant differences in interests and desired ends. A client, developer, or owner may be motivated by market or brand appeal, costs or revenues, while inhabitants are interested in well-being, meaningful jobs, vocation, professions, rewards, or career opportunities.
Both the Personal Mastery by Architecting™ and Architecting for Managers™ disciplines are designed to offer an unique possibility to people and organisations based on the idea of bridges.
So what is a bridge and what can it do for persons and organisations?
A bridges is in a simply sense anything (abstract or concrete) that two or more people, communities are aware of, or use for communication, collaboration, coordination and integration of their work.
The benefit of identifying, describing, building capacity for, and using bridges objects lies in their power to bridge what is going in two or more worlds. A few examples:
A Case Management System (a bridge) a Case (a bridge) integrate the work of people with many different functions and competences.
In management of larger portfolios of business, digital transformation efforts the idea's of benefit (a bridge) and outcome (a bridge are used to integrate work across projects.
Before we give some examples of liveness, it is beneficial to explore what is secondary to live architectures. The liveness quality does not mean that architects collect all available information in an enterprise, organisation, or community because some information is interesting, i.e. It is not a question of:
- Enterprise Knowledge Management,
- Information Management,
- Business Intelligence, or
- Storing architecture information in a repository,
Architecture representations are although part of Enterprise Knowledge Management. However, employing several librarians (or architects) to maintain repositories has been found to be largely not cost-effective.
So, what is it?
In FIA an architecture and its parts are tightly Interweaved with people and work they do with others. Here architectural elements are relevant, material to decision making, acceptable and usable by people, and essential or fundamental. This means that key parts of an architecture are visible to ordinary people (other than architects) in their daily life, and not embedded in models behind abstract concepts and boxes.
Where can you find it?
The Power of Storytelling from Harvard Business Review:
- The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool
- How to Tell a Great Story
- Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling
The interweave and architectural lenses enables a unique kind of story to be told about our world, a company, department, situation, building, ship, enterprise, or community. This story provides focus and frame on what is important, fundamental, essential, and Interweaves the parts.
An interweave and architectural story is told a little bit different based on the intended audience and who they are and what they do, who do they collaborate with, where they stand, their attention, questions to be answered, problems to solve, information needs, what they look at, and what they are supposed to do with the architectural knowledge.
The main characters and settings, the intended audience and their collaborative work situations are important to keep in mind when formulating and telling an story. The passions, challenges, conflicts, complications, and opportunities of the work place are the centre piece the story. Interweave and architectural thinking as well as interweaving and architecting practices provide many tools, techniques, considerations, and forms for the resolution part of the story. Interweaving bridges people and their work across socially, technically constructed and natural boundaries.
An interweave or architectural story can be interactive and live and used to capture corporate history as well as to provide a backbone and structure for enterprise knowledge management. A story can convey knowledge in the form of definitions, descriptions, explanations, predictions, hypothesis, and prescriptions.
Is Constraint something that should be addressed in I&A? Yes, constraints and limits are important aspects of daily life for organisations, enterprises, in economics, for production planning, etc.
However, the constraint is not there alone. Interweaves and Architects work in the world of humans where people use rich expressions to relate and describe their worlds. It has been shown that humans can relate badly to deficit approaches where the focus is on problems, what’s wrong, what needs to be fixed, or what’s missing. A shared focus on the positives sides, what might be, the opportunities, what you have, and freedoms, is equally (or more) important.
The positive sides, capabilities, and freedoms can be found emphasised in Appreciative Inquiry by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva, the Capability Approach by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, and the Heart-Mind inquiry by Dalai Lama Centre.
Does interweaving & architecting deliver only constraints? No, A delivery is than constraints.
I&A often involves inquiring, interpreting, evaluating the world through architectural lenses, for the purpose of generating knowledge. This knowledge can be in the form of descriptions, explanations of the past, hypothesis, or predictions.
Architects and architectural drafters (modellers) work together in ideating, designing, evaluating enterprises and organisations. They both share a passion for ideas, motivations, decision making, quality, and transformation projects involving commercial, government and non government organisations. While they may have similarities and work in the same industry, the responsibilities they perform are different, as well as experience and competency requirements.
It is interesting to note that in the world of Enterprise Architecture, the two different disciplines are not widely recognised.
This is unfortunately since an important professional path is not available for aspiring architects. And also because the vital distinction between architecting and modelling becomes blurred, leading to the risk that companies may be hiring inspired modellers rather than architects.
In the Work Oriented approach to architecting the two disciplines of Architecting and Architectural Drafting is recognised as distinct, albeit important.
REF Architectural Drafter (modeller) for more Information on Architectural Drafters (modellers).