OrganizationDesignPatterns


The term Design Patterns has unfortunately come to mean the collection of 23 patterns that appear in the book Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software, by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson and John Vlissides [BibRef-GOF1995]. Here we use the term in the same sense Alexander does in his classic, A Pattern Language [BibRef-Alexander1977]. In Alexander's sense, a design pattern is something you use to understand the geometry of a building; to understand the major relationships between parts. It is a definition that most of us we recognize as similar to the word architecture in software.

Once you design an organization, the organization comes to life through organizational construction patterns. Construction patterns discuss the "materials" and processes to reduce the conceptual design to practice.

The distinction between these two kinds of patterns isn't as clear in organizational design as in the design of buildings, and even there the difference isn't formal or clean. We separated the two kinds of patterns based less on their characterization as "design" or "construction" patterns than according to their affinity for each other. The so-called "construction patterns" can be found in the chapter OrganizationConstructionPatterns.