Introducing & Sustaining Interest in Patterns
in an Organization

Call for Participation

If you have used and/or written patterns, you are most likely aware that this literary form, and its corresponding process and community support, is providing potential for capturing best practices and communicating them between people in organizations and throughout the software industry. However, it is also quite likely that you have experienced some difficulty in convincing others in your organization of this potential.

The spark for patterns in an organization most often begins with one or more enlightened individuals who has heard about or used patterns and is intrigued over their potential. It then becomes the task of these individuals to enlighten the rest of the organization. It is likely to be an easier undertaking if one has an understanding of the problems that may be encountered along the way and what can be done to address these problems.

Work towards documenting these problems and solutions in the form of patterns was begun by David DeLano and Linda Rising of AG Communication Systems in Arizona during their Introducing Patterns into the Workplace workshop at OOPSLA'96. The patterns were later expanded to Introducing Technology into the Workplace. The work is being continued in a pattern language currently titled Evolving a Patterns Culture. The first seven patterns in this language were shepherded and workshopped at PLoP'99 this past August.

Many other patterns are being drafted. The stories of those who have tried to convince others of patterns is an excellent source for these patterns, their instances of use, and the feedback needed to produce a quality language. Therefore, the collection does not contain the ideas of only one person. Rather, it will be the work of many individuals and will, in turn, provide help to those who will attempt to introduce patterns into their organizations.

What will we do?

This Hot Topic session will provide an opportunity for participants to:
  • obtain feedback on the patterns they would like to contribute to the language
  • share stories about attempting to introduce patterns, or other innovations, into organizations
  • mine patterns from these stories
  • discover instances of use for the existing and the new patterns drafted during this session
  • begin to build relationships between individual patterns and, in the process, discover what patterns still need to be written

What will need to be done before the session?

Participants will need to complete four tasks prior to the session:

  • Examine the DeLano and Rising Introducing Technology into the Workplace patterns and the Manns Evolving a Patterns Culture patterns.
  • Draft one or more patterns that are not found in either of the above.
  • Read all the pattern drafts of the other participants. (These will be available on the web in February.)
  • Provide feedback to one participant regarding his or her pattern. (This is known as "shepherding". The name and pattern will be assigned to each person in February.)

What will occur during the session?

Day 1:

  • The session will begin with an introduction to the topic and a general discussion of the patterns written to date.
  • Patterns submitted by the participants will be workshopped. (During this time, other potential patterns will be noted and recorded on flipchart papers.)

Day 2:

  • Remaining patterns submitted by the participants will be workshopped (and other potential patterns will continue to be recorded on flipcharts).
  • New patterns will be mined:
    • Notes for potential patterns (on the flipchart papers) will be discussed.
    • Additional challenges will be brainstormed and recorded on flipchart papers. Each piece of paper will contain one challenge.
    • Potential solutions to each of the challenges will be brainstormed and recorded, in a different colored ink, on the same paper as the challenge.
    • Other factors, such as context, consequences and relationships between patterns will also be noted on each paper.
    • Some potential patterns, to record the information on the papers, will be drafted.

Day 3:

  • Some of the new pattern drafts may be workshopped, as time permits.
  • Relationships between existing and potential patterns will be explored.
  • The session will conclude by summarizing what was accomplished and identifying the patterns yet to be written and the work yet to be done.

What will be produced during the session?

It is anticipated that the deliverables from this session will include:

  • Workshopped patterns that will be added to the Evolving a Patterns Culture language
  • Information (challenges, solutions, etc.) that can be used to create other patterns after ChiliPLoP
  • A deeper understanding of this growing language, and what needs to be done to improve it

Who should participate?

This session is for all those who have attempted to convince others of the value of patterns (or any innovation). It is likely to attract individuals who have struggled with introducing and sustaining interest in patterns in an organization. However, those who are expected to face this task in the near future, and can share their experiences introducing other kinds of new ideas into an organization, are also welcome.

Who will lead this session?

Mary Lynn Manns is on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She also teaches patterns in industry and has experience introducing them into organizations. During the past year, she has studied the issues in introducing and sustaining patterns in organizations and is leading the effort to build a pattern language to help those who are facing this task.

How do I apply?

Submit the following two things to Mary Lynn Manns:

  1. a short description of yourself, including your experience with patterns, introducing patterns into an organization, and/or introducing any innovation to an organization
  2. one or more pattern drafts (See What will need to be done before the session?)

Submissions should be in the form of a URL that can be linked to this hot topic's page. Thank you.

Participants (this list will be continually updated as people join the group):

Note: PLoP is a trademark of The Hillside Group, Inc.