There are six categories in the Pattern Language for the Enterprise:
Signals, Language, Field, Knode, Patch and Web. These are related to one
another but not in a strictly hierarchical way. A brief explanation follows:
Signals refer to messages passed between Knodes and the mechanism of this
transmission. Signals placed in context by receiver Knodes are assigned
meaning or value. Signals that demand action in the form of a state change
by the receiving Knode are called Compelling Inputs. Signals that lack
a partial context or do not require action are called messages. Information
has two meanings: it is a measure of the uncertainty on the part of the
receiver Knode as to the next message to be received; it is also a measure
of the degree of order and complexity inherent in a system. Signals that
are not assigned any context are called Noise. All of these types of signals
impinge upon Knodes and are generated by them. At least 99.99% of the
messages that comprise the Field are ignored or beyond sensory reception.
Therefore, the supreme task of the Knode and of the Patch is to decide
which to pay attention to (which collections of potentials collapse into
manifestation) and which to ignore. For a model of the management of signals
and information, see the Ten-Step Knowledge Management model.
Language refers to the organization of Signals into a vocabulary and grammar
which allow the user to assemble enterprises that live (see Alexander).
In terms of Miller's Living Systems model, language is a shared Associator.
It's not enough to merely capture a subset of Signals and categorize them
as messages or Compelling Inputs. A Knode must know what to pay attention
to and why. This requires the Knode to develop a model of its reality
and to therefore assign some value to incoming messages so they may be
acted upon. The messages and their results are stored in memory. A sense
of knowledge implies that a Knode follows a patter of what to do experientially
with a set of Signals. This is the purpose of assembling patterns into
a Langauge. Language structures action because it structures Signals.
Language structures reality.
The Field refers to the total Environment of the Enterprise. It's also
the set of all potential Enterprises in solution. The actions of Knodes
and Patches in the interchange of Signals causes a subset of this potential
to collapse into a physical, social, cultural, technological and environmental
manifestation. The most noticable representation of the Field is the physical
environment but the Field itself is invisible and potential. It's the
Schrodinger's Cat of the Enterprise in which the cat exists in many states
until interaction and observation reveals one specific state. Structure
wins. We build our own reality and then live in it. We could change it
just as easily were it not for our own disbelief and our tendency to cling
to comfortable inhibitions.
A Knode is any adaptive agent in the Web, usually, but not always a person.
From a broader vantage point, a Knode is any element of the Web that sends,
receives, and processes signals in the sense that "everything speaks."
Knodes themselves are made up of Signals, but this notion is beyond the
scope of this Pattern Language. Think of the phrase, "you are what
you eat" to get some sense of what it means to be a composite of
Signals. Knodes strive for personal mastery, awareness, an ability to
step up to the work, and an ability to ship their work.
A Patch is a collection of Knodes. Knodes collaborate in Patches of up
to some hundreds, but certainly not thousands, of other Knodes. The term
is borrowed from Stuart Kauffman in his book At Home in the Universe,
where he speaks of Patch theory as a possible means for solving very complex,
conflict-laden problems. The purpose of the Patch is to improve its fitness.
The interconnection of Knodes in the Web means that Patches are densely
interconnected through their Knodes. This interconnection, and the imperative
for Patches to increase their own fitness, creates a sort of ecosystem
that efficiently manages its own evolution and the solution of conflict-laden
problems at the Web level. Patch theory doesn't work if the interconnection
between Knodes is broken or channeled through single individuals who act
as proxy for all interpatch signaling.
Web refers to the connection and organization of Patches and Knodes, and
the behavior of this emergent system over time. Therefore the Web is a
subset of the Field, which represents the larger environment within which
the Patches and Knodes are connected and influence one another. Nevertheless,
the Field and Web influence each other and form ecosystems with other
Webs and Fields across time. For a model of the web, see the Business of Enterprise model.
The next article in the series lists the individual patterns by name.
copyright © 1997, MG Taylor Corporation.
All rights reserved
terms and conditions