Tag Archives: timespan of intention

Second Dimension of Time

“Timespan of intention,” I repeated. “Timespan of effectiveness, timespan of discretion. A new understanding of time?”

“Not at all,” Pablo replied. “Elapsed time and timespan of intention are two measures of time. But, not at all new. Greek language has two words for time, chronos, for elapsed time. And, kairos. Kairos defines time, not as an elapsed measure, but as a story. What are the three elements of every story?”

It did not take me long. “The beginning, the middle and the end,” I replied.

Kairos. What is your story? What is your intention? What is the story of your intention? What is your goal? What is the story of your goal?” Pablo asked. “That is the second dimension of time. It has everything to do with goals and objectives, important measures for every manager.”

Two Dimensions of Time

“Exactly what is timespan, and why does it have a bearing on human endeavor?” I asked.

“Not just human behavior, but all living things, though right now we are focused on humans, the humans that inhabit our companies,” Pablo started. “Think about this. We plan a project and imagine, using our best judgement that the project will be complete within a specified, reasonable amount of time. When the project is finally complete, we now have the actual time elapsed. You must admit, these are concerns for every manager – How long did we intend the project to take, how long did it actually take? Time takes on two dimensions – intentions and actual elapsed time.”

“Okay,” I responded. “So far, I am still you.”

“Most often, when we think about time, we only think about elapsed time. We think about chronos, the measure of elapsed time.”

“A chronometer, like a stopwatch,” I connected.

“A river flows from its source to the sea, governed by gravity, volume, physical obstructions, and the water traveled can be measured in time. Does the river have intentions?”

I took a breath. “No,” I said, wondering if this was a trick question.

“Of course not,” Pablo replied. “Inanimate objects have no intentions, they only have elapsed time, from the source to the sea. We can describe inanimate processes easily within four dimensions, three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, elapsed time. But humans, human behavior, human endeavors require five dimensions, three dimensions of space and two dimensions of time. Elapsed time and the time span of intention.”

Four Levels of Knowing

What-we-know is a mental configuration. The way we configure what-we-know extends along our timespan of intention.

Most ideas exist independent of each other. If our timespan of intention is short, it is a perfectly good way of organizing what-we-know. We can rely on what we see, hear, touch, smell. Life is relatively simple. We can choose this idea OR that idea. This is the world of trial and error.

But, we wake up one morning and see ideas that are connected together. Our timespan of intention extends further into the future. What we see, hear, touch and smell is organized by ideas that are connected. This is the world of best practices, connected to our most common problems.

But, we wake up one morning and see ideas that are caused by other ideas. There is not only a connected relationship, but a cause and effect relationship. Our timespan of intention extends even further. Best practices help to solve problems we have seen, but are useless to problems we have never solved. What-we-know comes from root-cause analysis, the basis for creating a single serial system, a series of ideas sitting in a sequence of cause and effect relationships (critical path).

But, we wake up one morning and what-we-know includes more than one system. We see multiple systems sitting side by side. Each internal system has its own constraints, but some of those constraints now sit outside the system. Each system has an output which becomes the input for its neighboring system. Defective output from one system wreaks havoc on its neighboring system. And some systems outstrip the capacity of neighboring systems, crippling overall throughput of the entire enterprise. If our timespan of intention extends this far, our problems exist in the hand-off between systems and in the output capacity of one system to the next. The organization of what-we-know comes from systems analysis.

We can only know (what-we-know) what we are capable of knowing.

Timespan of Intention

Jordan was quiet. “So, it’s just a matter of what you know and what you don’t know?” he asked.

I lifted my head, “It’s what you know, what you don’t know and what you need-to-know. What you know is based on what timeframe?”

“Only the past,” Jordan replied.

“And what you need-to-know is based on what timeframe?”

“It’s too late for the past, it must be now.”

“You are correct. What do you need-to-know to help you understand the present? How does that understanding help you in the future? And, not the future of what will inevitably be, but, the future of your intentions? There are two timelines of the future, one is based on elapsed time, the other based on your intentions.”