How The Patterns Came To Us

We didn't make up these patterns. No one invents a pattern (or if they do, they shouldn't). Patterns are out there waiting to be discovered and documented. We took it upon ourselves to find the latent patterns of the domain of organizational maintenance and to document them. This book is the result.

This section briefly looks at the techniques we used to find and organize the patterns. You should read this chapter if you are interested in the methodology behind the patterns as much as you are interested in the patterns themselves. However, the section on HowToUseThisBook provides a summary of what you'll need to know to understand most of the patterns that follow.

We can summarize our research approach as follows:

  1. Gather data from identifiable teams, using team interviews.
  2. Analyze the data using social network techniques, to build organizational models.
  3. Present the analysis results to the team, note team reactions, and adjust the model as necessary
  4. Catalog the analysis results and look for common patterns, identifying the problem, forces and solution for each pattern
  5. Capture the patterns in pattern form.
  6. Look for links between the patterns that form meaningful sequences for applying the patterns.
  7. Organize the sequences into pattern languages.

We started with team interviews, and largely used social network analysis tools to look for patterns in the data from around 100 organizations. Those organizations ranged in size from 5 people to 100 people, but most of them were organizations of 20 to 40 people working on a common software project. By "organization" here, we mean a social unit such as a department or project or sometimes a work location where the people depend on each other and work together. That sense of organization may (or may not) be independent of what is on the corporate organizational chart. Often, each organization would be responsible for one or more processes in the sense that the term is used in ISO 9000 certification.

We studied organizations in Europe, America, the Middle East, and Australia. Our models unfortunately do not build on any substantial data from Japan, China, Singapore, or other countries of the Pacific Rim. It is possible that the cultural differences (in the vernacular sense) might limit the application of some of these patterns in Pacific Rim settings. But we have found remarkable commonality across organizations in Western Europe, the Nordic countries, the United States, and the Middle East.

Given that background, here's a more in-depth description of how we gathered and analyzed the organizational data.