What’s a pattern? A pattern is a structured way of documenting a recurring problem and the successful solution. The solution should be general enough that you can apply it in different “flavors” of the given context, but specific enough that you understand how to solve the problem. Every pattern has a name. Using a collection of related patterns gives the user a vocabulary or language to describe ways of working in the given environment.
Who is Christopher Alexander? The idea of using patterns is currently very popular in software development, but the idea originated with a building architect, Christopher Alexander. He wrote several interesting books about the patterns he saw in his work. The Timeless Way of Building A Pattern Language
Fearless Change The context for this pattern language is organizational change. The user of the patterns is a “powerless leader” who has an idea for a new way of working and wonders how to get things going. Patterns are applied in a sequence. The particular choice of patterns for the sequence depends on the nature of the user and the nature of the context.
Evangelist To begin to introduce the new idea into your organization, do everything you can to share your passion for it. Innovator When you begin the change initiative, ask for help from colleagues who like new ideas.
Test the Waters When a new opportunity presents itself, see if there is any interest by using some of the patterns in this language and then evaluating the result. Time for Reflection To learn from the past, take time at regular intervals to evaluate what is working well and what should be done differently.
Small Successes To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the challenges and all the things you have to do when you’re involved in an organizational change effort, celebrate even small successes. Step by Step Relieve your frustration at the enormous task of changing an organization by taking one small step at a time toward your goal.
Brown Bag Use the time when people normally eat lunch to provide a convenient and relaxed setting for hearing about the new idea. Do Food Make an ordinary gathering a special event by including food. Piggyback When faced with several obstacles in your strategy to introduce something new, look for a way to piggyback on a practice in your organization.
External Validation To increase the credibility of the new idea, bring in information from sources external to the organization. Plant the Seeds To spark interest, carry materials (seeds) and display (plant) them when the opportunity arises. Just Enough To ease learners into the more difficult concepts in a new idea, give a brief introduction and then make more information available when they are ready.
Just Do It To prepare to spread the word about the new idea, work with the new idea on your own to discover what the benefits and limitations are. The Right Time Consider the timing when you schedule events or ask others for help. Just Say Thanks To make people feel appreciated, say “thanks” in the most sincere way you can to everyone who helps you.
Personal Touch To convince people of the value in a new idea, show how it can be personally useful and valuable to them. Guru on Your Side Enlist the support of senior-level people who are esteemed by members of the organization.
Tailor Made To convince people in an organization of the value they can gain from the new idea, tailor your message to the needs of the organization. Trial Run When the organization is not willing to commit to the new idea, suggest that they experiment with it for a short period and study the results.
Stay in Touch Once you’ve enlisted the support of key persons, don’t forget about them and make sure they don’t forget about you. Study Group Form a small group of colleagues who are interested in exploring or continuing to learn about a specific topic.
Connector To help you spread the word about the innovation, ask for help from people who have connections with many others in the organization. Ask for Help Since the task of introducing a new idea into an organization is a big job, look for people and resources to help your efforts.
Hometown Story To help people see the usefulness of the new idea, encourage those who have had success with it to share their stories. Token To keep a new idea alive in a person’s memory, hand out tokens that can be identified with the topic being introduced. Smell of Success When your efforts result in some visible positive result, people will come out of the woodwork to talk to you. Treat this opportunity as a teaching moment.
Location, Location, Location Try to hold significant events offsite. Group Identity Give the change effort an identity to help people recognize that it exists. In Your Space Keep the new idea visible by placing reminders throughout the organization.
Big Jolt To provide more visibility for the change effort, invite a high profile person into your organization to talk about the new idea. Royal Audience Arrange for management and members of the organization to spend time with a Big Jolt visitor.
Local Sponsor Ask for help from first-line management. When your boss supports the tasks you are doing to introduce the new idea, you can be even more effective. Corporate Angel To help align the innovation with the goals of the organization, get support from a high-level executive. Guru Review Gather anyone who is a guru on your side and other interested colleagues to evaluate the new idea for managers and other developers.
Fear Less Turn resistance to the new idea to your advantage. Shoulder to Cry On To avoid becoming too discouraged when the going gets tough, find opportunities to talk with others who are also struggling to introduce a new idea.
Dedicated Champion To increase your effectiveness in introducing your new idea, make a case for having the work part of your job description. Mentor When a project wants to get started with the new idea, have someone around who understands it and can help the team.
Involve Everyone For a new idea to be successful across an organization, everyone should have an opportunity to support the innovation and make his own unique contribution. Champion Skeptic Ask for help from strong opinion leaders, who are skeptical of your new idea, to play the role of ‘official skeptic.’ Use their comments to improve your effort, even if you don’t change their minds.
Corporate Politics Informally work on decision makers and key influencers before an important vote, to make sure they fully understand the consequences of the decision. Whisper in the General’s Ear Managers are sometimes hard to convince in a group setting, so set up a short one-on-one meeting to address their concerns.