Organizational Patterns Are Used By Groups Rather Than Individuals

There are many things we can do as individuals to become more effective. We can improve our knowledge through study and practice. We can improve the way we do things; we might, for example, follow Watts Humphrey's personal software process [BibRef-Humphrey1995]. Applying organizational patterns is not something we do alone.

There are indeed some patterns that are oriented toward individuals. The GateKeeper and MatronRole patterns, for example, describe single-person roles. Yet on closer examination, these roles are useful because of how they interact with others — they cease to exist in isolation. Even a SoloVirtuoso is set up and managed by another person. Furthermore, and this is important, one of the keys to the power of patterns is that they establish a shared high-context vocabulary. That's a group thing.

So the question becomes not only how to disseminate knowledge of the patterns throughout the organization, but to also how to get people to use them. While nothing replaces the hard work of old-fashioned evangelism, we can offer a few specific suggestions.

One approach is to spread the word pseudo-subversively. Remember the description of Dick Gabriel leaving the patterns by the printer. You can also call out the patterns as you see them (or see their need) in your organization. People will become curious what ConwaysLaw is, and ask questions.

The most effective way we have seen to introduce these patterns is through the organizational studies. This not only provides a natural forum for introducing the patterns, but also exposes the need for them. We heartily recommend this experience.