SPEAKING IN TEAMS:
PATTERN LANGUAGE FOR COLLABORATION
Erik Johnston1 and Darrin Hicks21School of Information & Center for the Study of Complex Systems,
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, USA
2Department of Human Communication Studies, University of Denver
Collaborative work is increasing in frequency and importance in business, academia, and communities. The knowledge behind what makes for a successful collaboration is also increasing but is normally focused on only one aspect of collaboration theory. The understanding of how successful collaborations are built is greatly improved by the creation of a unified framework that organises and transfers knowledge and practices. The framework proposed in this paper is the concept of a pattern language for collaboration. The notion of a pattern language was first detailed in 1979 by Christopher Alexander in his book, A Timeless Way of Building . A pattern language consists of a hierarchy of individual patterns that are used to solve problems associated with the parts in the pattern. When developed, researchers can use a pattern language for collaboration as a tool set to evaluate existing collaborations, repair unhealthy collaborations, and build future collaborations. The core concept is that the structure of an environment guides the pattern of events that occurs. A healthy collaboration is more likely to be responsive to the needs of its community and robust enough to overcome unanticipated challenges. The development and evolution of the pattern language is similar to a genetic process in that quality of the overall language emerges from the interaction of individual and complex patterns. The article applies the pattern language to the real world example of twenty eight different collaborations that are part of the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative to illustrate the application of the pattern language in context. The article closes with recommendations for future development of the language.
Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative, collaboration, pattern language, evolutionary development, complexity
Full paper as pdf version.