Last year, on the Integral Language thread, I mentioned a new Integrally influenced symbolic language that was being developed: Pattern Dynamics.  I had first been introduced to it a couple years ago by a student who did a presentation on it in one of my classes.  I've decided to start a new thread on it for several reasons: 1) we've continued to generate and play with novel linguistic forms in our discussions here, so I thought it would be fun to explore the potential of this system; 2) Tim Winton, the creator of Pattern Dynamics, is apparently on board with the Meta-Integral project now and is contributing there; 3) Winton recently wrote an interesting piece on Meta-Integral and the overall state of the (post-Ken?) Integral project on the Beams and Struts website; and 4) the symbol language is inspired, in part, by the work of the architectural theorist, Christopher Alexander, who was one of the first authors explored in the Magellan Courses.


Here's an introduction to Pattern Dynamics:


The challenge of our age is to facilitate global sustainability through the creation of a truly thriving planetary civilization.

The key to this challenge is our capacity to deal with complexity. We have created an increasingly large, fast paced and complex world, but our ability to coordinate ourselves effectively within this complexity, at all levels–from the local to the global–has not kept pace.

PatternDynamics™ is a simple tool that can be learned by anyone to overcome the challenges posed by complex systems–at any scale. Here’s how it works:

  • The key to complexity is systems thinking;
  • The key to systems thinking is Patterns; and,
  • The key to using Patterns is to form them into a language.

PatternDynamics™ is a language of visual Patterns–a ‘Sustainability Pattern Language’–that will help you understand, communicate and design solutions at the systems level. By learning PatternDynamics™ you will gain a powerful new capacity as a ‘systems thinker’–a skill that is often thought to be unteachable.

With this skill you will  learn to create Cultures of Sustainability and to facilitate Deep Sustainability Design: sustainability strategies that help resolve complex challenges at any level of organisation, from the community to the planetary, and in any domain, from business to governance to institutional. Click here to learn how.



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The first 10 minutes starts with the current mind- as-organism metaphor, which is a rehabilitation and expansion of an indigenous model. This of course reminds me of the neo-Commons model. And that the interim mind-as-machine model was 'wrong,' since it doesn't match living, natural systems. I.e., it was not a necessary evolution but a regression.

To me this also goes for the socio-economic system inherent to it, capitalism. And it also goes for those systems of complexity that are based on this model, like the model of hierarchical complexity, distinct from Morin's complexity or Fischer's dynamic systems version.

Thanks Balder, theurj, and DM for these references on the complexity topic with Tim Winton, Zak Stein, and others.

I look forward to seeing more about this and the Meridian series generally.

Mostly I want to express my gratitude that I feel at the moment for you each and other IPMS participants on this and on the crazy web of seemingly infinite bifurcations and multi-tine forking that is the referencing to so many threads and topics here on IPS.

Because of this thread and Bruce's initiating post, and because of feeling a warm connection-from-a-distance for Tim via David and the simple geographic closeness with Tim of the last ITC, I just read the Beams And Struts article.

Though I almost always resonate with appreciation for Layman's critiques, as with this thread about Tim's diagraming, I want to say also that I found these helpful to me, in where I am, so it seems. The other critiques and recognitions on this threads make sense to me, too, yet overall, I found Tim's methodical, careful and caring rendering of the Ken and Integral patterns very fine. Neat. Good. Helpful for my desire to organize so much within myself about the history and the compelling spectacle and occurrence that has been the integral immersion and movement within me and around me. Thank you.

I particularly liked how he engaged the topic of hype, II hyperbole, and energy of the bright shadow. That was a useful recognition or framing that we are borrowing on future successes that the community and movement will later have to pay, and if the hype is immoderate and even egregious then the payment burden will be too great a price.

Though I have a strong reflexive resistance to seeing the phrase, "community as master" (distinct from Ken as master), I do find it to be a potent idea whose potential value I can nod to, died-in-the-wool agentic though I often am. I like to put this phrase along side the idea of "partnership" that Eisler's has been talking about. I do seem to be easier with that term. Hah.

Again, I have felt in awe this afternoon in my IPMS tracking and humbled by how much as been already discussed and quite well understood by you all and so many. As often, I am late to parties of many different sorts. Hah.

An integral sigh, ambo

Hi Ambo,

Thank you for these warm comments!

In regards to the PD Pattern diagrams that were briefly discussed in the early posts on this thread, and referenced by you as well, I would like to share some thoughts as a "Level 2B PD practitioner."

I appreciate the reflection that some have not found the diagrams initially meaningful or compelling. I think it is important to understand that the diagrams themselves are only a small part of what PD is about. We have also found that introducing PD at first via the matrix chart is often a non-starter. 

A better approach is to first gain an overview of what PD as a whole is about - captured by Balder above as a tool for dealing with complexity ("our ability to coordinate ourselves effectively within this complexity, at all levels–from the local to the global") based on systems thinking and Christopher Alexander's ideas for pattern languages. I wrote a slightly expanded intro here.

The goal with this pattern language is to be able to "see" the elements of complex systems and to have better conversations about them.

We usually start by learning the concepts behind a few of the first order patterns, and the principles behind those concepts and pattern definitions.  When we start using the diagrams in conversation with others who've obtained at least a minimal understanding of some of the principles, that's where the diagrams themselves can start to come alive, and become dynamic beyond the static images you see in the charts.  If you look carefully at Tim's article about Ken, notice how he starts combining patterns in unique ways to move the conversation forward.  It becomes very interesting to start to do this in a group, as people start modifying and combining diagrams in unique ways.  New meanings are formed, everyone tends to learn something new, and the "dynamics" portion of PatternDynamics comes to the fore.

The usefulness of the Patterns and their diagrams I think lies largely in their ability to help us make subjects objects - we need to be able to see and talk about these things if we're going to find the simplicity that lies on the other side of complexity. However, it is important to not let the Patterns become static, reified objects. Instead we need to maintain an openness to the dynamic flux which makes each moment and each "suobject" (if I can borrow an Urgeism) unique.

Speaking of the differences between the model of hierarchical complexity (MHC) and other forms of complexity, I recently had a discussion with Cory David Barker at the Commons Yahoo Adult Development Forum.* I inquired into the fractal nature of the MHC, since it uses a monofractal structure, i.e., recurring, self similar patterns. Multifractals though

"are more highly advanced mathematical structures: fractals of fractals. They arise from fractals 'interwoven' with each other in an appropriate manner and in appropriate proportions. Multifractals are not simply the sum of fractals and cannot be divided to return back to their original components, because the way they weave is fractal in nature. The result is that in order to see a structure similar to the original, different portions of a multifractal need to expand at different rates. A multifractal is therefore non-linear in nature."

Multifractals also better represent actual biological processes, whereas a monofractal structure "neglects rich cascade dynamics." Which reminds me of Zak and Tim's discussion of first and second simplicity, first simplicity being the monofractal nature of the MHC while second simplicity being multifractal constructions. Barker is working on using multifractals to upgrade the MHC.

* See this post and several following posts on this page and the next page.

DM: Speaking of the PD diagrams and associated concepts, have you found any homeomorphic equivalencies with Edwards different lenses? E.g., see this IPS post that references links to Edwards discussions of them. I of course, given my wont, relate them to the different image schema.

It seems the ILR archive has been redone and those links don't work. Check the archive here for 2008, January for part 8 of the Edwards discussion, March for part 9.

Damn, it sees the ILR archive has cut the diagrams. However you can see the lens categories and diagrams in Edwards' Ph.D. thesis here, pp. 128-29.

OK, I'm sorry to say I'm not real familiar with Edwards' work. Probably the only thing I've read is the section of the piece you recently pointed to at Integral World.  

And I haven't yet had time to read the IPS threads you just pointed to either, so I can't really comment very much, but...I did download the paper and buzz down to page 128-129. Is this what you're referring to?

It looks like his holarchy category might have some similarity to Winton's first-order Pattern of Structure (and the holarchy pattern in particular); the bipolar category might correlate to Winton's first-order Pattern of Polarity; the cyclical process category might correlate to the first-order Pattern of Exchange (and the Cycle pattern in particular).

There is a relational element in all of the PD Patterns, but personally I particularly see them moving horizontally in the matrix chart from the Patterns of Resonance, Masculine-Feminine Polarity, Field, Flow, Elegance, and the Pattern pattern. 

Standpoint and Multimorphic - I'd have to think more about these.

Yes, that's the diagram. I was just wondering if there were some similarities between their work and it appears so.

I asked Tim about this on FB and he said:

"I've read his book, Organisational Transformation for Sustainability: an Integral Metatheory a few times now and it is well marked up, including the pages like the ones you posted. I think there is some resonance in the way we view these kinds of diagrams for communicating these kinds of ideas. I've never asked Mark about this although I hold his work in the highest regard. It was Sean Esbjorn-Hargens who first pointed out the similarity in our Integral diagraming style."

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