Pattern-Based Approaches for Organizations' Agility

Pattern-Based Approaches for Organizations' Agility

Darko Galinec (Polytechnic of Zagreb, Croatia)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5202-6.ch162


Enterprise business strategies require an IT organization that goes beyond doing more with less. Technologies must differentiate the enterprise in ways that matter. External differentiation means developing new customer experiences that support revenue growth and customer retention. Internal differentiation means eliminating distortion and duplication, which not only reduces costs but improves agility (McDonald & Aron, 2012). In this chapter paper an overview of pattern-based approaches for organization growth is provided. It introduces the pattern-based strategies and explores disciplines and technologies which enable business leaders to advance from traditional information disciplines to seeking patterns of change (from people, process and information) and acting on them. Then it presents theories and frameworks and the properties available for the achievement of successful leading of the businesses during times of rapid and unpredictable change: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) cycle and Pattern-Based Strategy (PBS) as well as explore ways in which they complement. It also discusses how senior executives, planners and architects can apply OODA and PBS to speed up organizational decision making and coordinated response to change in organizations that are striving to be adaptable and describes the underlying technology.
Chapter Preview


Technology’s role in the enterprise is increasing. This does not mean, however, that the role of the information technology (IT) organization is increasing. Chief information officers (CIOs) concentrating on (IT) as a force of operational automation, integration, and control are losing ground to executives who see technology as a business driver and source of innovation. Effective leaders use technology, which includes IT, to strengthen the customer experience and eliminate costly internal distortions (McDonald & Aron, 2012, p. 2).

In this work we illustrate innovative approaches which are used in analyzing and modeling behavior of the systems. These theories and their concepts are used for investigating the problems that belong to the domain of organizational systems.

Pattern-based approaches enables business leaders to seek, model, and adapt to new and emerging business patterns that could represent opportunities and threats. Pattern detection is not new. Any human activity involves pattern seeking and modeling — for example, making a business decision or identifying a potential problem are all about pattern seeking and modeling (Burton, Genovese, Rayner, Casonato, Smith, Beyer, Austin, Gassman, & Sommer, 2010).

Pattern-Based Strategy complements Boyd's emphasis on the need to quickly identify, analyze and synthesize patterns to gain competitive advantage. Trust and accountability are essential for an adaptive organization. Leaders who empower individuals with implicit guidance and control will establish organizations that proactively seek, model and adapt to patterns of change better than their competitors.

Organization’s competitive advantage and survival are about recognizing and acting on patterns before others. Previous strategic planning models were strained to seek changes, predict outcomes, adequately guide decisions and assist leaders in defining governance models that embrace change. Through a focus on pattern-based strategy organizations will move from being “reactive” to being “proactive” (Genovese, Sribar, Prentice, Burton, Austin, Rayner, Popkin, Smith, & Newman, 2009).

The adaptive organization takes immediate action to exploit opportunities or mitigate threats by sensitizing itself to changing patterns. Meanwhile, the reactive organization ponders and waits until all the facts are in, while fast-changing events or circumstances quickly overtake them. It then tries to calculate the impact on operations, customers and partners. Successful organizations are those that adapt to change faster than their competitors, through the appropriate use of information technology (IT).

The theories of strategist John Boyd — coupled with Gartner's Pattern-Based strategy — will provide leaders with the insight and actions they will need to transform their businesses into adaptive organizations. These two approaches complement each other in the following ways:

  • Examining the specific challenges facing today's leaders and explaining how an adaptive organization meets such challenges;

  • Learning Boyd's strategic theories and frameworks — notably his OODA feedback loop — which organizations can use to make their decision-making processes faster and more implicit, empowering individuals on the front lines to adjust the tempo of operations (either speed up or slow down) before competitors;

  • Four phases of OODA loop can be mapped to Pattern-Based Strategy, which enables the adaptive organization to quickly transition to a more proactive, “seek, model and adapt” culture (Newman, 2011).

The description of two pattern-based approaches will be given later in the paper.



As we have announced in the introduction, adaptive organization takes immediate action to exploit opportunities or mitigate threats by sensitizing itself to changing patterns.

From the literature (Genovese, Sribar, Prentice, Burton, Austin, Rayner, Popkin, Smith, & Newman, 2009) is known that:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Observe, Orient, Decide and Act Loop: A type of concept that states decision making follows a specific process. Once decisions have been made, the process continues with taking an action.

Business Pattern: A set of recurring and/or related elements (business activities, events, weak or strong signals) that indicates a business opportunity or threat.

Aim of Business Pattern Recognition: To understand how elements (activities, events, objects and information) may form new patterns that represent an opportunity for innovation or a threat of disruption to business operations or strategies.

Pattern-Based Strategy: The discipline that enables business leaders to seek, amplify, examine and exploit new business patterns.

Business Pattern Framework: Refers to an organization's focus on and its investment in a balanced diversity of business activities (in the defined, creative, collective and exceptions categories) that enable it to lead and respond to weak and strong signals of change (opportunity or threat).

Weak or Strong Signal: A piece of information, an activity, and/or an event that indicates an impending change that might have an impact on your business pattern.

Operational Tempo: A focus on disciplines, activities, technologies and resources that gives organizational leaders the mechanisms and controls they need to understand how to enable consistent and repeatable organizational change in response to changing patterns.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: