Unlocking Effective Work Approaches: Navigating Practice, Principles, and Patterns for Optimal Decision-Making and Scalability

In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations constantly seek ways to optimize their work processes and deliver sustainable value. Your approach to getting work done can significantly impact your ability to achieve your goals and scale effectively. In this article, we’ll explore three key approaches—Practice-led, Principle-led, and Pattern-led—and how understanding them can empower you to make better decisions, especially when it comes to scaling your processes.

The Need for Understanding:

Gaining a deep understanding of your work approach is crucial for several reasons. First, it allows you to align your processes with your organization’s goals and values. By clearly identifying whether you’re following a Practice-led, Principle-led, or Pattern-led approach, you can ensure that your efforts are focused and purposeful. Moreover, understanding your approach helps you identify areas for improvement and optimization, enabling you to make informed decisions that drive efficiency and effectiveness.

Scaling with Clarity:

When it comes to scaling your processes, having a clear understanding of your work approach becomes even more critical. As your organization grows and evolves, you must adapt your processes to accommodate new challenges and opportunities. By knowing the strengths and limitations of your chosen approach, you can make strategic decisions that facilitate smooth scaling. Whether you’re expanding your team, entering new markets, or taking on larger projects, a well-defined work approach provides a solid foundation for successful scaling.

Practice-Led Approach:

The Practice-led approach involves following established practices or methodologies for product development. This approach emphasizes adopting proven practices and processes that have a track record of efficiently developing products and meeting customer needs. 

Common examples include: 

  • Lean product development, 
  • Design thinking 
  • User-centered design. 

Cautions: While the Practice-led approach can provide structure and guidance, it’s important to be mindful of potential rigidity and the need to adapt practices to fit your specific context. You don’t want to force a practice-based framework on an organization only to have the organization completely change to fit the framework.

Principle-Led Approach:

In contrast to the Practice-led approach, the Principle-led approach is guided by a set of core principles or values that inform the product development process. Rather than strictly adhering to a specific methodology, teams align their work with guiding principles such as user-centricity, rapid iteration and experimentation, and continuous learning and improvement. Companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have defined their own principles for product development. 

Common examples include: 

  • User-centricity: Putting the user at the center of all decisions
  • Rapid iteration and experimentation
  • Continuous learning and improvement, such as espoused in the Agile Manifesto

Cautions: While the Principle-led approach offers flexibility and adaptability, it can be challenging to put principles into concrete practice without some form of structure above them. You want to avoid the classic line, “That’s great in theory…”

Pattern-Led Approach:

The Pattern-led approach focuses on identifying and leveraging proven patterns or solutions to common problems in product development. Instead of reinventing the wheel, teams or organizations study and apply patterns that have been successful in similar contexts. This approach emphasizes recognizing recurring problems and applying well-established solutions or good practices. 

Common examples include: 

  • User interface design patterns (e.g., navigation patterns, input patterns)
  • Architectural patterns (e.g., microservices, event-driven architecture)
  • Organizational patterns (e.g., cross-functional teams, product owner role)

Cautions: While the Pattern-led approach allows for assembling building blocks that can be mixed and matched to create a framework tailored to your organization’s needs, the challenge lies in selecting the right collection of patterns to use. When faced with a never-ending buffet, how do you decide what to eat and whether the food will be complimentary? Pickles and tapioca might be great foods, just not in the same dish.

The Gorilla Recommends:

I don’t believe in a “Best Practice.” I believe in good practices that work for your team or organization. That said, I have found repeated patterns that have worked over and over. 

  • Start with WHY – Why the change? Why the product? Why are we here?
    • Simon Sinek gives us excellent guidance in his book, “Start with Why.” 
  • Build a foundation of principles/values (Principle-Led)
    • You don’t build a house in a swamp or build walls without a foundation. 
  • Select a flexible framework – either Practice-Led/Pattern-Based or pure Pattern-Led
    • Many Practice-Led frameworks are structured with a basic framework and the ability to insert additional patterns that tailor the approach to your needs. Look for these Practice-Led/Pattern-Based approaches.
  • Never lose sight of your “why”!
    • It’s not enough to set a vision; you need to revisit it regularly, inspect it, and adapt it as you develop your product or scale your change. 

Reflect on your current work approach and assess how well it aligns with your organization’s goals and values. Identify its strengths and limitations and explore ways to optimize it for better decision-making and scalability. By taking proactive steps to understand and refine your work approach, you’ll position yourself for success in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Want to learn more? Consider taking my Certified Scaling Class to gain in-depth knowledge and practical strategies for scaling your processes effectively.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top