Really, we need to go beyond the notion that Patterns “create structure.” That might be true in Alexander’s physical view of Architecture, from where this way of thinking originates.
In knowledge-work it is much more fitting to think about Pattern Transformation as moving from one Context to another . Then " Structure" emerges as the contention of “Forces” - remember, Forces are one of the key attributes of Pattern Forms - that operate in the generated Context .
This allows us to reason in terms of immaterial forces . Like people’s intentions and interests; and extend the Pattern Thinking to contemplate, for instance, Conflicts of Interests - by which we can then connect to Goldratt’s Thinking Processes and maybe find application of the Evaporating Cloud conflict resolution technique.
So I prefer to reason in terms of Contextual Forces rather than Structures . This allows us to capture immaterial and constraining forces, like our Mental Models .
Or maybe I should say Mental MOLDS.
The real power of Patterns is in the network that makes up the Pattern Language. This is what the “Design Pattern” approach in software development mostly missed out, but that was part and parcel of Alexander’s intent, from the very beginning. Most people understand “Pattern” as a single instance cookie cutter for a premade solution to some problem. That is as far away as you can get from Alexandrian Patterns.
It is the generative nature of successive Pattern applications / transformation that will bring about NEW solutions, via emergence. This the total opposite of cookie cutters. Patterns are NOT a catalog of premade solutions. Real world solutions are generated (some would say “designed”) by the application of a multitude of Patterns. And any single application can give rise to a new traversal path in the underlying network that is the Pattern Language; which in turn can lead to the discovery of new Patterns. A Pattern Language is a living and evolving body of representation of knowledge.
structures / relationships
… those are necessary but not sufficient. See the Pattern Development Process that I describe in my book, and the way you go from Analysis to Normalization to an actual Pattern Form.
One of the most important attributes is the recognition of the “Resulting Context” which becomes the gateway to further Patterns. Most people looking into Patterns don’t have clue about these elements, and how rich and deep Pattern Thinking actually is.
TameFlow is totally founded on Patterns. Real, Alexandrian Patterns - not the cookie cutter variants.