#1 Reason You Should Pay Attention to Pattern-Based Strategies
Just over a year ago, on August 9th, Yvonne Genovese released the first report on Pattern-Based Strategy. Since then, there has been a flurry of reports from many other Gartner analysts on this topic within the context of their own research. Lately, Gartner even published a hype cycle for Pattern-Based Strategy.
If you are not familiar with this concept, feel free to check the primer I wrote on my blog. It will get you started with the core principles. If you know everything there is to know, the best route would be to read the whole Pattern-Based Strategy set of research from Gartner!
Why should you pay attention?
Granted, the research does not really "invent" anything. But it does a beautiful job collecting older concepts and theories, and organizing them together to highlight the few core principles that matter. This is a pragmatic approach. Although some people found it too theoretical, it seems just right for me. I will let you be your own judge.
Why should you pay attention again? Well, the timing is good too. In the midst of the economic downturn, many businesses and individuals have lost faith. Trust is one ingredient of a healthy economy. How to trust when the 'uncertainty sword' hangs over your head? Nassim Taleb's book was a wake-up call for some: "black swans happen." Pattern-Based Strategy is the roadmap on what to do to regain trust, to get your act together, and ultimately to become a fierce player in the competitive world we live in.
I always get carried away when I talk about Pattern-Based Strategy. Now may be a good time to publish a disclaimer that I have nothing to do with it; I am not paid to endorse it either.
Let's drill down into more concrete arguments.
So many choices… Transparency, seeking patterns, op-tempo advantage… Pattern-Based Strategy is rich in important concepts that contribute to excellence.
Well, the truth is that one of them is a prerequisite for the others to be effective. Getting better at what you do can only come from knowing how well you are already performing. As I said before, not a new concept — Six-Sigma initiatives come to mind.
How many companies, business units, teams, or individuals start their projects with this assessment though? How many projects are built with continued performance monitoring in mind?
I think that Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) contributed to the needed evolution toward a Performance-Driven Culture, but this is not enough. Performance measurements do not stop with Processes. Like Pattern-Based Strategy, it applies to People and Data too. It is a mindset.
How does that apply to Business Rules and Decisions?
This Performance-Driven Culture may actually have the most impact in Decisioning Applications, don't you think?
Opportunities to instill a Performance-Driven Culture are everywhere, starting with the most obvious:
- After you deploy: Business Intelligence (BI) projects have published dashboards to stakeholders for decades now. Regardless of whether decisions are automated or not, business leadership had to focus on business performance metrics, to measure the health of the business.
- Before you deploy: Decisioning Applications typically rely on a long phase of capturing business rules that are technically tested before they are deployed (to ensure the system will not crash). Fewer Decisioning Applications validate via scenario testing that business objectives are being met. It reminds me of one past customer that realized, once they got into Production, that the level of underwriting automation was a small fraction of what they believed it would be, resulting into a flooded underwriting department. Had they applied their decisioning logic to the last three or six months of applications, they would have known that ahead of Deployment weekend and been able to correct it.
- While you deploy: Experimental Design (also known as Champion / Challenger) has been around for decades, too, and is heavily used in Marketing. But it is not as common in Decisioning Applications at large. The concept (if you are not familiar with it) is to deploy different "solutions" to well-selected segments, to comparatively test their performance. In retail, it may be different packaging for the same yogurt in different locations; in Decisioning, it may be different collection strategies for randomly-selected populations. The idea is to track the performance of each "solution" and to keep refining the best one. Google has popularized the concept for your web pages via its Website Optimizer free service.
I must admit that, since you get agility for free when you decide to use a Business Rules Management System (BRMS), performance becomes dramatically more important. It may not matter as much to know how well you are doing when you can't change. That goes without saying.
There is more!
Performance-Driven Culture has another side-effect that people often neglect. In my previous article in BR Community, I stated that "success is infectious." As a participant in a project, if you can point to its success and (even more so) if you can point to your contribution to its success, you are more likely to be increasingly engaged with your project. The more engaged the business users, the more successful the project.
- If you can implement only one aspect of Pattern-Based Strategy, pick Performance-Driven Culture.
- When you focus on Business Performance, you have an opportunity to improve Business Performance.
- High Performance projects attract High Performance individuals.
 Carole-Ann Matignon, "Don't Hate Business Rules," Business Rules Journal, Vol. 11, No. 7 (Jul. 2010), URL: http://www.BRCommunity.com/a2010/b545.html
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