Normal thinking becomes architectural thinking when two criteria are met:
- Architectural thinking is thinking with a purpose. Thinking how to best articulate a complex issue, solve a problem, make a difficult decision, tell an intricate story; these are all examples of thinking with a purpose
- Architectural thinking occurs at least across 3 different dimensions. For example thinking architecturally about a new building should probably consider at least the dimensions of space, time and people (the architect that doesn’t think about the people using the building is unlikely to succeed).
Business needs, cost, technology and users are some important dimensions (there are also others) for developing IT systems. What-Why-Who-When, Current-Target-Gap are other useful generic dimension. If you can’t find a third relevant dimension (e.g. you should only worry about cost and comfort when you buy a pair of shoes!), there is no need for architectural thinking.