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Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Patterns help introduce patterns (or any new idea)

Through the 1990s, a new movement in software development called patterns gained momentum. Inspired by the thinking of the building architect Christopher Alexander, a group of smart guys authored 23 patterns for software design as "a way to analyze solutions to recurring problems, make them reusable and communicate them." Patterns collected together form a working language that help systems architects and programmers cope with the complexity of software systems.

Over the weekend, while revisiting some citations on patterns, I landed on Mary Lynn Manns' and Linda Rising's Introducing New Ideas into Organizations, which is a web page of papers and resources on the patterns of practice they and many others used over several years to introduce the concept of patterns for software design in organizations. As you might imagine, any radically new way of thinking is a tough sell, and their collection of patterns (123 page PDF) for introducing patterns is really a comprehensive cookbook of tactics that can be used to sell any new technology-related ideas in an organization.

Reading through some of the patterns, I recognized many of the tricks I've stumbled upon over the last few years to sell information architecture, usability, accessibility, and user-centered design to my employers and their clients. Some example patterns for introducing new ideas:

  • Adopt a Skeptic - Pair those who have accepted your new idea with those who have not.
  • Big Jolt - To provide more visibility for the change effort, invite a well-known person to do a presentation about the new idea.
  • Corridor Politics - Informally work on decision makers and key influencers before an important vote, to make sure they fully understand the consequences of the decision.
  • Group Identity - Give the change effort an identity to help people recognize that it exists.
  • Hometown Story - To help people see the usefulness of your new idea, encourage those who have had success with it to share their stories.
  • In Your Space - Keep the new idea visible by placing reminders throughout your organization.
  • 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 of your new idea, show how it can be personally useful and valuable to them.
  • Shoulder to Cry On - To avoid becoming too discouraged when the going gets tough, find opportunities to talk with others who are also struggling.
  • 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 and to offer them the opportunity to announce your new idea as their own.

Each pattern is explained in detail, related to key roles and illustrated with a real world scenario. The patterns collection has also been expanded to book form and is scheduled to be published next year by Addison Wesley. I'm saving a space on my nightstand.

11:31 PM in Business Strategy, Information Architecture, Information Design, Web/Tech | Permalink

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Patterns help introduce patterns (or any new idea):

» Mike Lee on patterns and politicking from Blackbeltjones Work
Mike Lee is another convert-to-typepad, and over at his new digs he has a nice little post of pattern language, [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 27, 2003 6:24:21 PM

» Selling New Ideas from *Pixelcharmer: Field Notes
Mike has a great list of "example patterns for introducing new ideas." I've got skeptics to spare if anyone needs [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 28, 2003 5:08:54 PM

» Patterns help introduce patterns (or any new idea) from Column Two
Mike lee has written a weblog entry about using patterns to introduce new ideas. To quote: Over the weekend, while revisiting some citations on patterns, I landed on Mary Lynn Manns' and Linda Rising's Introducing New Ideas into Organizations, which... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 29, 2003 12:18:24 AM

» Mike Lee on patterns from cityofsound
Excellent post on patterns, over at Mike Lee's place. "Reading through some of the patterns, I recognized many of the tricks I've stumbled upon over the last few years to sell information architecture, usability, accessibility, and user-centered design... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2003 12:45:52 PM

» Change: patterns and leverage points from Mathemagenic
New pointers to ideas about change. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2003 10:04:36 AM

Comments

Thanks for this post, Mike. I struggle to get new ideas accepted regarding server tools and services from time to time. This book looks like a must have for low on the totem pole developers and changemakers as well.

Posted by: Michael at Aug 27, 2003 7:40:59 AM

Hey MR. lee. You must be very flattered. I am a student at myers park high school in north carolina. MY whole entire class reads your blog online everyday. I have a blog myself and i wish there were enough people to read it to comment on it. Were going to get tested on your own persoanl journal as well.. I would actually feel rather starnge having strangers study and memorize my life.

Posted by: christine at Aug 27, 2003 1:12:05 PM

Oh yea, its me again. I just moved here from brooklyn about a month ago. Its so hilarious that were reading your blog, quite frustrating, no offense to you. Its just that everyone in new york has a blog and yet my teacher is just so amused by yours.

Posted by: christine at Aug 27, 2003 1:17:16 PM

Christine, I'm still amazed that Ms. Foy chose my blog as an example for her class out of the hundreds of thousands of active ones that are out there. Now I'm dying to get a copy of the test to see how details of my life read as quiz questions. I would probably not score well on the quiz myself...

Posted by: Mike Lee at Aug 28, 2003 12:28:14 AM