Conceptual artifacts are ideas that we use in planning, but these are ideas whose definitions never change. We are all familiar with the compromises that we make when planning and decision-making, but when planning is organized around conceptual artifacts, we do not compromise on what we mean. When planning with conceptual artifacts we cannot even “agree to disagree” on the meaning of a term or idea or goal. We can agree to disagree about its value, but we must agree about its nature.
Conceptual artifacts are the foundation of progressive discourse.
It is only if we share conceptual artifacts that we can truly begin to improve what we do and how we do it. This improvement arises out how conceptual artifacts emerge and disperse through organizations.
Improvement of conceptual artifacts occurs when:
• Planners develop a more sophisticated understanding of what they intend in the conceptual artifacts;
• Conceptual artifacts are replaced with more precise ones;
• Managers communicate the conceptual artifacts so more individuals representing more stakeholders share the conceptual artifact;
• Managers take steps so the conceptual artifacts are implemented with increased efficiency;
• Conceptual artifacts are implemented with greater effectiveness by increasing alignment between conceptual artifact and practice, removing those practices that are the least aligned, or using conceptual artifacts to frame activity in situations where they are not currently used.