Process Pattern Language Taxonomy

I notice that software design patterns are classified as Creational, Structural or Behavioral in the Design Paterns book (Gamma et al. 1995). It occurred to me that all the 42 design patterns described in your chapter in "A Generative Development-Process Pattern Language" could probably be classified under the following three dimensions: Structure, Process, and Behavior. These three characteristics are common to all organizations. Further, if we clearly define what is meant by structure, process and behavior, it might be possible to classify software patterns described in the Design Patterns book using the same three dimensions: Structure, Process, and Behavior. Outlined below is an analysis of why I feel that this classification factors out the analogies between software design patterns and organizational patterns.

Structural Patterns

Structural software patterns deal with how classes and objects are composed to form larger structures to realize new functionality (Gamma et al. 1995). Structural organizational patterns would cover established patterns of interacting and coordinating technological and human structure of an organization.

Both software and organizational structural patterns refer to more than just fixed relationship among elements. In structural software patterns, the added flexibility of object composition comes from the ability to change the composition at run-time which is not possible with static class composition (Gamma et al. 1995). Similarly, in organizational structural patterns, factors like human behavior and interaction cannot be placed on a static organizational chart. For example, "Buffalo Mountain" appears to be a structural organizational pattern based on communication and human interaction.

The Design Pattern book (Gamma et al. 1995) classifies creational software patterns as distinct from structural patterns. However, it might be possible to consider creational patterns as structural patterns at a specific point in time - object creation. They deal with object composition at creation time.

Process Patterns

Process software patterns could be considered as patterns that are concerned with communication flow. These would include patterns that describe how peer objects cooperate to perform a task that no single object can carry out by itself (e.g., Iterator, Memento, Mediator, Observer).

Process organizational patterns would be patterns relating to informational flow, communication and decision making in organizationsb(e.g., Group Validation, Review the Architecture).

Behavioral Patterns

Software behavioral patterns characterize the way in which classes or objects interact to distribute responsibility (Gamma et al, 1995). Software patterns in this category could include those patterns that involve delegation heavily (e.g., State, Strategy). Organizational behavioral patterns could be considered as patterns which deal with delegation in organizations. The key components of delegation could be considered as responsibility, determining priorities, accountability, planning, directing, authority and establishing feedback. Examples of organizational behavioral patterns could be "Architect Also Implements", and "Code Ownership".

Listed below is an attempt on my part to classify your organizational patterns into structure, process and behavior.

 Aesthetic Pattern                                  Structure
 Application Design is Bounded By Test design       Process
 Apprentice                                         Structure
 Architect Also Implements                          Behavioral
 Architect Controls Product                         Structure
 Buffalo Mountain                                   Structure
 Code Ownership                                     Behavioral
 Compensate Success                                 Behavioral
 Coupling Decreases Latency                         Process
 Conway's Law                                       Process
 De-Couple Stages                                   Process
 Developer Controls Process                         Behavioral
 Developing in Pairs                                Structure
 Divide and Conquer                                 Structure
 Domain Expertise in Roles                          Structure
 Don't Interrupt an Interrupt                       Process
 Engage Customers                                   Structure
 Engage QA                                          Structure
 Firewalls                                          Structure
 Form Follws Function                               Structure
 Gatekeeper                                         Structure
 Group Validation                                   Process
 Hub-Spoke-and-Rim                                  Structure
 Interrupts Unjam Blocking                          Process
 Mercenary Analyst                                  Structure
 Move Responsibilities                              Structure
 Named Stable Bases                                 Process
 Organization Follows Location                      Structure
 Organization Follows Market                        Structure
 Patron                                             Behavioral
 Phasing it In                                      Process
 Prototype                                          Process
 Review the Architecture                            Process
 Scenarios Define Problem                           Process
 Self-selecting team                                Structure
 Shaping Circulation Realms                         Structure
 Size the Organization                              Structure
 Size the Schedule                                  Process
 Solo Virtuoso                                      Structure
 Take No Small Slips                                Process
 Three to Seven Helpers Per Role                    Structure
 Work Flows Inward                                  Behavioral

If you see any merit in these ideas, I would really appreciate your feedback. I am very interested in doing research in this area and would like to know if there is any way I could help you with your effort in tying organizational patterns to existing research and theory in organizational psychology. My email id is

Very Nice work! How would you like to try applying these thoughts to the RAPpeL pattern language by BruceWhitenack that's in the same volume? I have a feeling it might also have a similar taxonomy.

-- KyleBrown

Here is the same list organized alphabetically by grouping:

Behavioral Process Structure

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