Pattern Thinking in Business Analysis: Why It Counts

A “Pattern Mind” is one able to see behind the surface presentation of things to the processes and patterns that are revealed by those things - Pattern Mind.

Pattern thinking may sound like an obscure concept but it is not. Everything around us thrives on patterns and cycles. Take the lifecycle of a plant, for example. The seed is planted and nurtured until it sprouts into a full-blown plant before it is finally harvested or withers and dies off.

Patterns are all around us, from the rising and setting of the sun to the transition from one season to another. Your daily schedule (even if you are a fire-fighter), will have some elements of predictability to it. Pattern thinking is about connecting the dots (like you would when solving a crossword puzzle), an important quality in generating insightful ideas and building innovative solutions that solve business problems.

Pattern thinking is central to human thinking. It allows the brain to function as a pattern recognizer. Thinking this way allows you to:

  1. Recognize patterns and trends
  2. Analyze the meaning of patterns and
  3. Recognize those patterns in other contexts 

You apply pattern thinking when:

- You make connections between events and situations.

- You learn from best practice processes and take a cue from what other companies are doing to be successful.

- You look at what's working for someone else and implement it in your own environment. 

As business analysts, it's important to be able to recognize when things are going right or wrong (the pattern) with our projects, understand the meaning of those patterns and devise ways of exploiting the implications to our benefit. Pattern thinking provides a hub of knowledge we can draw on when similar patterns (issues or opportunities) arise in the future.

Pattern thinking involves drawing analogies and complements other forms of thinking like systems thinking and analytical thinking.

Would you like to learn more about pattern thinking? See How an Entirely New, Autistic Way of Thinking Powers Silicon Valley. If you would like to understand how to develop your pattern thinking ability, see Visual Thinking & Pattern Recognition.