For the purposes of this blog, a communications pattern refers to a discrete configuration of content, tools, practices, and relationships that consistently resolves a recurring communications problem for an organization, community, or business. A “pattern language” is built up from a set of patterns which collectively inform and shape a dynamic communications framework that is capable of evolving over time to address new, unexpected challenges and take advantage of unanticipated opportunities.

This approach is based on the work of architect Christopher Alexander in A Timeless Way of Building and A Pattern Language, and later more fully elaborated in his four-volume The Nature of Order. Here are a few of the ways in which Alexander describes such patterns:

A pattern is a careful description of a perennial solution to a recurring problem within a building context, describing one of the configurations which brings life to a building.”

“Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use the solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.”

“When combined and applied as a pattern language, patterns are implemented one at a time, from larger scale to smaller scale, in a sequence unique to each situation that builds upon and repairs earlier patterns, creating a more complete whole.”