In this inaugural edition of Architecting Enterprise, we begin at the beginning: strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is the alpha topic because crafting context gives meaning and value to everything we do.
The value of every decision we make depends on the context in which we make it. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s journey to destroy the ring is meaningful inside the context of Middle Earth. Otherwise, he’s a short, hairy guy with apocalyptic hallucinations. Tolkien didn’t simply describe a journey, he crafted a framework in which the journey, and Frodo’s choices, have value.
In the real world, crafting a framework is also the vocation of strategic thinkers. “Crafting” is an apt descriptor. Many types of thinking — creative, analytical, critical, divergent, convergent, concrete and abstract — are central to strategic work. Alone, they are scraps of metal. Conveying ideas through writing, editing, whiteboarding, storytelling, researching, modeling, structuring, discussing, debating and re-modeling forges them into something transformative. Tolkien enabled us to see what he saw.
The ephemeral materials that give a framework structure are context, concept and integrity. Context is an understanding of the circumstances. Concept is the abstract idea, analogy or mental image that encompasses “the circumstances.” When a framework hangs together well, clearly conveying elegant simplicity, we say the structure has integrity. Integrity is the glue that holds context together as concept evolves into reality. Middle Earth has integrity.