Communicating in Patterns

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I’m a huge fan of “patterns” or what I describe as “pattern thinking”. My main source of inspiration was not “design patterns” but rather Mary-Lynn Manns & Linda Rising’s book “Fearless Change“.

Whilst I’m no expert at developing my own patterns, the concept of planting a seed – a verbal cue or anchor – to encapsulate a powerful concept in a couple of words is incredibly valuable when coaching and leading teams and managers.

2 Great examples of this that aren’t mine are “Technical Debt” and “Code Smells”. Terms that people can latch onto quickly and use in conversation with generally little problem in being understood.

As a line manager a few years ago I required every member of my team to read Steve McConnell’s white paper on managing Technical Debt.  Whilst he wasn’t the inventor, his treatment of the subject was a detailed and resonant enough introduction for it to stick with the teams. The term technical debt is now heavily used (and usually properly understood) all the way up to exec level within the group.

I was recently privileged enough to have Naresh Jain visit my site to coach TDD & refactoring. In a week of training he effectively introduced our entire group to the very sticky term “Code Smells“.

I’ll be writing up and sharing some of my own verbal seeds shortly. I doubt they’re unique  but they’re how I choose to socialize specific thoughts, ideas & behaviors from my own experiences.

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