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Interweaving & Architectural Thinking - as Intent

In this framing article, we visit Intention in order to explore the frame, scope (what is included, excluded) and scope of interweaving and architectural thinking (I&A).

It is often said that architects work ‘mainly’ with creating blueprints that contain an intended architecture. But is All that an interweaver or architect is concerned about intentional? The short answer to this question is No. The longer answer follows in a brief format.

Note: This article is intended to be an In-front-of-the-Curtain article to be understood and used by non-expert architects.

As a starting point for the analysis, we briefly outline the main sense of the word “Intent”. Intention is a mental attitude towards action and its consequences. Intention represents a commitment to the effort of performing an action or actions in the future, to the manipulation of means, and to what the actions might lead-to. An Intention involves the belief that taking action will satisfy some desires. The formation of Intent is generally part of decision making where analysis is followed by the formation of options, desires, decisions, commitments, and intent, planning, preparation, the moment of starting the action, and the action itself. Authors such as John Searle and Michael Bratman have covered the topic of Intention in length.

Is intent unique to interweaving and architectural thinking? No. Intent is generally considered as part of human practical reasoning. Intention is therefore not unique to I&A. All people form intentions, such as ‘I want to help save the planet, so I'm going to recycle my clothes and sort waste to minimise my footprint. I know I have to change my way of living, but the result is what I want.’. This small piece of argumentation is important since it releases interweaves and architects from being the sole guardian of all that is intentional.

Now to the main question, Is everything an interweaved or architect is interested in intentional? Again, the short answer is No.

Let’s look at some parts of I&A that do involve intention. In the transformational work (design, engineering…), architects are extensively involved with caring for or fulfilling the needs, requirements, and desires of interested parties (stakeholders, clients). A deliverable and specification (blueprint) can be considered as representing the Intentions, and as such should/must be realised by the next step in the organisational work-flow. Here, clearly, some parts of I&A cover Intentions. We note that a specification (blueprint) also contains other pieces that are not directly intentional, such as the presentation of acquired knowledge, general information, guidance to solve problems, and advise.

But, are there other aspects that are important and material for interweavers and architectsYes.

First, interweaving and architecting includes non-design tasks. Examples include but are not limited to;

  • Creation of mental models of something in the world (real of fictional) for creative reasons or in order to increase understandings.
  • The Inquiry, interpretation, or evaluation of the actual world using interweaving and architectural lenses. An inquiry often deals with descriptions and explanations of what is and was, some of which is or was intended.

Secondly, we all know that life involves many things that do not go as planned. These unintended aspects can be very important to cover by an architect. Examples include but are not limited to;

  • In strategic planning, intended strategies, as well as unintended and unplanned (emergent, accidental) parts of actual strategies are important to be aware of and deal with.
  • In scenario analysis various options cover beings, doings, and consequences that are possible and not necessarly intentional. The options are weighed against each other based on individual merits and outcomes.
  • In risk management, the probability, and consequences of unwanted situations are analysed and evaluated.
  • Interweaves and architects deal not only with problems but also with opportunities that may emerge. Thinking about and analysing opportunities may eventually lead to intentional actions.
  • In Life-cycle management the possibilities of or capabilities for unwanted, unintended pollution and waste are important to be aware of and deal with.
  • In stakeholder analysis and employee engagement, the actual commitments to decisions are important to be aware of and deal with. The absence of commitment is an indicator of no intention.
  • Interweaving and Architecting often do not end with the creation of specifications but continue with monitoring, recognition and handling of emergent, accidental actions that change the actual architecture.
  • In many cases, the aspect of Space (movement, freedoms, limitations, boundaries) can be used to deal with situations where intentions are not yet settled. By defining a room for manoeuvring and action, or a space for design and decisions, it is possible to specify arenas for the development of new business models or new ways of operating. I.e. define spaces where Intentions can form in ways that are not foreseen nor intended.

Furthermore, we have the topic of predictable side-effects of actions such pollution. Consequences that are know but falls outside the intended consequences are often equally important to be aware of and deal with.

Main findings: Intention is an important attitude to be aware of and work with. However, Intention does not define what interweaving nor architectural thinking is.

Usage in the Framework Interweaving and Architecture (FIA) practices
FIA contains a library of mental attitudes that are important for knowing how people relate to interweaves,  architectures, parts thereof, and the real world. Intention is an important attitude. Having intentions or no-intentions are included in various parts of the practices and tasks, such as in strategic planning.

Enjoy!

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