Over the next several weeks I’m taking a deeper dive into a phrase that’s held my attention for some time—”solving for pattern“. It’s from an essay by Wendell Berry. Berry was writing about farming as an exemplar of complex systems. What I know about farming is largely courtesy of Berry; complex systems, however, have been at the core of my work for decades. The systems I pay attention to are embedded in organizations; comprised of people, processes, and technology.
Solving for pattern is a more powerfully evocative phrase than the one I more often encounter “connecting the dots.” Connecting the dots is trotted out as a way of simultaneously claiming cleverness and suggesting that everyone else is slightly stupid. Solving for pattern suggests a more appropriate degree of complexity and depth to the process of understanding.
I’m planning on cheating a bit to get this exploration underway. Over the next several weeks I plan to piggyback off of a set of prompts provided by Megan Macedo. Megan organizes and coordinates a writing challenge about this time each year. She collects an eclectic group of writers and doles out a set of prompts over the course of the next several weeks. I’ve folded this into my calendar each of the last five years. This year’s overarching topic is about “letters and correspondence.”
I think I can see a way to hijack that to my purposes.
Organizational systems are built on top of conversations that have history and unfold over time. Sometimes those conversations lead to deep insight; sometimes they devolve into chaos. Let’s see whether we can keep mostly to the insight side of the ledger.