Introducing Patterns into Organizations

Workshop 12, OOPSLA 2000

Copyright © 2000, David E. DeLano
Permission is granted to copy for the OOPSLA 2000 "Introducing Patterns into Organizations" Workshop.
All other rights reserved.

David E. DeLano
AG Communication Systems
2500 W. Utopia Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85027
(623) 581-4679
delanod@agcs.com

David DeLano is a senior engineer at AG Communications Systems, a subsidiary of Lucent Technologies. He has authored a few patterns and pattern articles, some of which have been published in Pattern Languages of Program Design 3 and The Patterns Handbook. He was the conference chair for the second ChiliPLoP. He has taught pattern courses within AG Communication Systems and at several conferences.

Abstract

Since I have been either directly or indirectly involved in work on the Patterns that are included in the foundation of this Pattern Language, I am very interested in seeing it grow. The Patterns presented here come from a combination of two factors: Patterns that may fill in the cracks, and a "life after" the introduction perspective. The first factor comes from reviewing the work and having that "what about this" feeling. These patterns may come from things we have always talked about, but never made into Pattern form. The second comes from the traumatic experience of having the Patterns cultural development yanked out from under us, and what the resulting environment has yielded.

Patterns are still alive at AGCS, in spite of a smothering of the Patterns effort, and a subsequent termination of the Patterns movement life support. People here are still interested in Patterns technology. Some have fully grasp Patterns and have incorporated them into their daily routine. Others are familiar with Patterns and continue seeking more information. The kernel of training that was available in previous years has been enough to keep people searching for more.

I have also experienced the use of the Introducing Technology Patterns recently. My position in life has changed once again, and I am currently involved in introducing "new" technologies. The project I am working on is introducing a new Configuration Management system, and OOA&D and CASE tools are once again in the forefront of product development.

A note: I have always pushed these patterns in the direction of "Introducing Technology" rather than "Introducing Patterns." I believe, and have experienced them enough times in this wider scope, that this generalization is justified. However, this workshop is on "Patterns," not "Technology." Thus, in choosing the wording of the patterns, I have chosen "topic" as a generic reference to the "thing being introduced."

The Patterns

Trinket
Treasure
Low Rumble

Name: Trinket

Context

You are an Evangelist, Dedicated Champion, or Helper who is introducing a new topic to your organization. You are holding introductory sessions or training classes. You may be hosting an outside guest, who is doing the actual presentation. This presentation may be formal or informal.

Forces

Problem

How can you sustain the impact an introductory session has on the attendees?

Solution

Give everyone who attends the meeting/training sessions some token that can be identified with the topic being introduced. The value of this trinket need not be high Ė it doesnít need to be a Treasure. Keep the trinkets consistent over time and donít devalue the identity of the trinket by giving them out to people not connected to the topic. If the topic is related to a particular product or company, promotional materials might be appropriate, especially if there is an outside speaker from the company.

Examples of trinkets are coasters, cups, pens and pencils. They may also be t-shirts, hats, and even books. They may also be something as simple as a set of bound notes or a "quick reference" printed on better than normal paper.

Resulting Context

People who identify with the topic will maintain their trinket, often prominently displayed, as a symbol of their support of the topic. Initially, this identifies the group of people to each other, helping to create a critical mass. Over time, the trinkets serve as a constant reminder to re-visit the topic

Beware that not everyone goes for trinkets. Thus it is important that the trinket have no intrinsic value. You must not be disappointed if some people dispose of the trinket Ė not everyone goes for trinkets, and those who donít "get" the topic will be less inclined to keep the trinket around. Trinkets will get cleaned out over time, and this is okay.

Rationale

It is important that any "group" maintain an identity in order to survive. The trinket helps maintain this identity. It identifies the owner as part of the group to the outside world, and reminds the owner that they are part of the group.

This is much the same as a "uniform" identifies a person as part of a group. However, just as the uniform doesnít make the person, owning the trinket does not guarantee that one will have the attributes of one, of the group. Having the trinket does not guarantee that the owner supports the topic.

Known Uses

Several trinkets have been used over the life of Patterns introduction at AGCS. GOF books have been made available to anyone interested in the topic, though it should be noted that these books are more likely to be Treasures. Writers Workshop reference cards were given to an even more select group of people who attended Writers Workshop classes.

Any good salesman knows the value of giving away trinkets. Even after a sale is made, the trinkets are invaluable to maintaining a good customer relationship and often result in more sales.

Related Patterns

This may appear to be similar to Do Food and Brown Bag. These patterns, however, or more temporal and are meant to draw people to a meeting.

Treasure is closely related to Trinket, but there is more significance to a Treasure.

Author: David E. DeLano


Name: Treasure

Context

You are an Evangelist, Dedicated Champion, or Helper who is introducing a new topic to your organization. You may be holding introductory sessions or training classes. You may be hosting an outside guest, who is doing the actual presentation. This presentation may be formal or informal. You may be making a one-to-one presentation.

To make this truly effective, Local Leader and/or Corporate Angel should be in place. However, it is also possible that this pattern applies when you are the Evangelist trying to line up a Local Leader or Corporate Angel. You may also be recruiting Early Adopters.

Forces

Problem

How can you strengthen the impact that a new topic has on an individual?

Solution

Gives those who relate to or strongly support the topic something of value. Value here is a objective term. The treasure doesnít have to be expensive, but should be seen as something of worth to the recipient. This is an important distinction between Treasure and Trinket. However, since the expenditure here will likely be more than for trinkets, it helps to have a budget from the Local Leader and/or Corporate Angel.

Examples of treasures include books, shirts, etc. Beware that something expensive is not necessarily a treasure. The recipient has to attach value to the item AND associate it with the topic in order for it to become a Treasure.

Resulting Context

If indeed the item dispensed is a Treasure, the receiver will maintain it in an appropriate manner. This does not always mean it will be displayed, as it may be deemed too important to keep out where everyone has access to it. However it is maintained, the receiver will have a strong association between the item and the topic it represents. This connection is what causes the object to magnify the association with the topic.

There is a fine line here between maintaining a certain amount of exclusiveness in owning a Treasure, and not being too exclusive. Too many treasures and they become trinkets. Too few and they create an atmosphere of exclusion. Anyone should be able to obtain a treasure if they meet the qualifications.

Rationale

Treasures go beyond the identification of a group. They identify achievement or level of support. This is much the same as the rank identification on a uniform. Better yet, it is like the badges that scouts receive for exhibiting learned skills or attaining predetermined goals.

It is fairly easy to see how Treasures can be used when introducing a topic. They become even more valuable, though, as you try to maintain interest in the topic, often in the face of adversity. Even as things go into a Low Rumble, it is the keepers of the Treasures that are most likely the ones that keep things alive.

Known Uses

We have used books at AGCS as Treasures. This borders on Trinkets, though, as some people see more value in the books than others. Iíve even had people return books to me. They saw the value in the book itself, but didnít identify with the topic. They wanted someone else to have use of the book.

Related Patterns

Trinkets can become Treasures, and Treasures may be treated as Trinkets.

Author: David E. DeLano


Name: Low Rumble

Context

At best, you are an Evangelist for a topic. You may only feel that you are an Early Adopter or part of Grass Roots. Things are not going well. Support from a Local Leader and a Corporate Angel has disappeared. Because of this, the Dedicated Champion is gone. (Remember that a Dedicated Champion has official time dedicated to the topic.) From all appearances, interest in the topic appears to have died.

Forces

Problem

How can you maintain interest in a topic when all support appears to have disappeared?

Solution

For starters, someone has to take on the role of Evangelist. Since you are the one looking for the solution, that probably means you. The good news is, you arenít starting from scratch. The bad news is, since the topic has been pushed before, there may be stronger resistance to a reintroduction. However, there are others who are with you (if not, give up?), and you can maintain a low rumble. Seize opportunities to use and promote the topic, but donít be pushy about it. Maintain readiness, though, in case an opportunity for reemergence occurs. The topic could be like a volcano ready to flow once more, or it may become dormant for a long time, maybe forever.

Look first for Trinkets to see what kind of community support there is. Look even further for Treasures that indicate you arenít alone in your pursuit of keeping the topic from dying. Engage these people whenever you can, but in general, lay low and look for a good opening to bring the topic to the surface again.

Resulting Context

There is an assumption here that you see value in the topic and intend on using it as best you can. If you see value, chances are that others see value. If you can maintain the support that is there, chances are, full support can be raised sometime in the future.

Step lightly, though, as pursuing a dead topic that most people, especially those in control, want to be dead can be disastrous to your career. Your only option may be to bail out.

Rationale

Interest in a topic dies for various reasons. The label to watch out for is "fad." [Note: it would be well worth our time addressing this issue in the context of the Pattern Language. Why is one topic a fad and another not? In the end, fads die and non-fads keep going, but how can you tell the difference at the beginning.] If the general feeling is that "it was just a fad," you are going to have trouble getting the topic going again. Other evidence of this would be the disappearance of Trinkets and Treasures.

However, there are many reasons that interest appears to die that have little or no relation to the value of a topic. Lack of funds, reorganizations, the occasional non-supportive manager, etc., all have the appearance of killing off a topic. But these things always correct themselves in the long run, and good topics will be allowed to reappear.

Known Uses

The Patterns introduction has run into this fate at AGCS. However, support for the technology has maintained the Low Rumble and is ready to be revived when support is available. Support for CASE tool usage appeared to die for awhile, but recent availability of funds has pushed this technology back to the forefront.

Related Patterns

I think Iíve connected all the related patterns within the body of the pattern itself. There could be others, but none have been realized at this point.

Author: David E. DeLano