Organizational Patterns LO17965

Michael A. Beedle (
Mon, 4 May 1998 02:18:39 -0500

Replying to LO17947 --

Gene Bellinger wrote:
> The work we've been involved in at OutSights for the last 18 months
> centers around the identification, management, and access of
> organizational interaction patterns through an association relevance
> scheme.

First of all, let me say that many of the recent and planned publications

are business oriented. This site, like PLOP, is in a rapid process of
expansion, and there will be many contributions in the areas of strategic
management (scenario planning), knowledge management, agility,
hyper-productive teams and enterprise architectures in the near future.

Also, thank you for providing us with some information about your work. I
went to the pages you provided and I found many interesting things. (As a
matter of fact, our site also started with a discussion of system
archetypes that Jim Coplien, Steve Berczuk and I had in the fall of 1996.
Jim has been documenting org patterns since 1993, and Steve and I since

However, I do have some questions:

1) Is your work related to the Alexanderian paradigm? i.e. with
Christopher Alexander and his publications dating back 35 years such as:

Notes on the Synthesis of Form
The Timeless Way of Building
A Pattern Language
The Oregon Experiment

Our work with org patterns is deeply rooted in the Alexanderian paradigm.

2) How are the different patterns that you find and document related
with each other?

In the Alexanderian paradigm, patterns are related to each other, forming
a self-reinforcing "deep structure" called "pattern languages" ala
Chomsky. Therefore, they not only help the creation of a pidgin language,
but they also provide its users with a consistent deep logical structure
beneath the surface of their native language.

We also make the distinction between "process" and "organizational"
patterns because like in anthropology, it is the relationships among
people, the ones that are mostly responsible for the key evolutionary
processes in a culture of subculture. So we see "organizational" patterns
as roles and relationships, and not necessarily as repeated "processes".

Culture is created, survives or expands, by enculturation and diffusion,
and org patterns capture the roles and roles structures that are necessary
in mentor and apprentice roles (Business Architect, Case Workers, etc.).
As such, the goal of org patterns is to help in the creation, change and
preservation of subcultures.

Pattern languages of organizational patterns, provide a way of
enculturation and diffusion that is unique, because they include a self
referential "knowledge system" - the pattern language, that makes everyone
aware of the dynamics of the whole and how they fit into this whole. (You
know the cliche "act locally, think globally".)

Anyhow, I think we are working on related things, and I applaud your
efforts to document and use "patterns" i.e. even if they are not

To my knowledge, you (Gene Bellinger), Mike McMaster, Paul Evitts, Nigel
Vickers, Fred Nickols, Martine Devos and Don Dwiggins and I (Mike Beedle),
are some of the people working on, or with "patterns" in this list.

This is exciting, because I think patterns and pattern languages have a
great potential in capturing knowledge; in creating, changing and
preserving cultures; and hopefully they can provide the leaders of this
ever changing world with a good tool for change management.


- Mike Beedle


"Michael A. Beedle" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>