Principles, patterns, problems and paradoxes…

Coincidentally, Mezzanine programmer Karl attended a Sydney CocoaHeads meet last week, and was intrigued by Matt Delves’ talk about patterns for problem solving, and this week, Seth Godin has been blogging about problems and paradoxes and the difference between the two.

In his presentation, ‘How design patterns help you IRL without turning into Java’, Matt Delves defined Software Design Patterns. He said that, ‘A pattern is not finished code, it is a description of how to solve a problem.’ This got us thinking about how we all use patterns and principles in life. The problems they are applied to feel as varied as people are, which is why we tend not to think about them as much in real life. We usually think just enough to solve the problem and then move on. But some patterns are reusable and these can be useful.

Part of our Conscious Branding process, once we have defined a company’s purpose, is to give businesses leaders and employees a set of principles to follow in order to live out their purpose in everything they do. We build these principles from the patterns we identify in the people in the company and their actions and motivations. These become a useful guide which can be applied to everything from product design to customer service processes. They give companies a set of principles to measure against other approaches in order to define what is ’true’ to that company.

Seth Godin, meanwhile, points out that a problem is open to a solution whereas a paradox is gated by boundaries that make a solution impossible. This is where we’re looking to form patterns into principles but have given ourselves too many limiting criteria. He gives the example that making significant forward motion without offending anyone or exposing yourself to fear is a paradoxThis is an easy paradox to create for ourselves. The way around the first part is to concentrate on who your ideal audience are and how they want/need you think and be. At Mezzanine we define your ideal audience not by an arbitrary group that you have chosen to target, but those who are aligned with who you are and what you want to achieve. If you concentrate on who those people are, how they think and what their emotional needs are, you are free to concentrate on your momentum. Those you could offend aren’t those you want to connect with so they stop being a concern. To counter the second half of the paradox, this post gives some guidance on accepting that fear is an essential part of change. Take these two elements out of the equation and you’re left with a solvable problem, not a paradox. 

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