The next interesting pattern is Decoys. Originally it is described as:

Can you add ‘decoy’ choices, making the others (which you want people to pick) look better in comparison?

And the example is

Would you choose the $79.88 option here, when the other two offer you a free gift AND save you slightly more money?

That is great and widely used pattern in sales and marketing. My strong believe that management and leadership is of the same nature. Sales and marketing techniques work perfect here.

You should use this pattern every time you propose something to your client, boss or subordinates. If you did a decision and want to implement it you can either force a decision or sell it.

If you force your decision then you move in an autocratic way. That is a great way to show your power and it is definitely needed  sometimes. However, you are easy to blame. Any decision has some liabilities. And anyone can easily talk about how bad it is. As soon as there were no alternatives and you was the only one to decide, as soon as no rationale were provided, you are weak against this offense.

Alternatively, you can sell this decision. And this pattern is the way to do it. Find two more alternative solutions that are visibly worse than your decision. Try to design them that their liabilities point to the strongest points of your solution. And then ask another part to do a shopping. They will choose your solution, share the decision-making responsibility and will be glad for deep analysis of the situation and a number of options provided.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that it might not work in 100% cases and always have a back-up plan if incorrect option is chosen.

Inspired by:


Pave the Cowpaths

Let’s take a look at architectural patterns. There is a well-known pattern of building paths in the parks. Author of design patterns calls it as Pave the Cowpaths and describes as:

Can you recognise the ‘desire paths’ of some of your users, and then codify them into your system, so others follow too?

As an example he provides the following story:

Example: In Tigard, Oregon, residents marked informal ‘neighbourhood trails’ they used on a map, so the city could prioritise ones to ‘formalise’.

A beautiful and clear solution from user experience point of view. However, the question is how does this pattern related to management that we are talking about in this blog. This is the pattern on how to build the right business process in tough to formalize environment.

Just imagine that you have to define processes on a newly created project. By its nature it has nothing common with you previous experience. It has no clear mapping to any classical management solution. And you have no clear vision in your head.

So, you can use Pave the Cowpath pattern. Just let the project live on its own. Define no processes. As you understand in a meanwhile a set of informal business processes will naturally appear. So, it will be the high time to formalize them.

Surprisingly, you might get a brilliant and clear solution. However, usually you get something strange and a bit messy as a result. Whatever you get, you have something to start with. You can polish, improve and redesign the processes but you will have them at least.

Moreover, you will get two guaranteed benefits that are the worth ignoring all the liabilities of this method. First of all this approach does work. Your artificially defined process didn’t block the job. And the second benefit is that this solution is absolutely organic. It has no pretty but useless additions from a management theory. You get the straightforward solution for your exact case. Isn’t it the process you where looking for?

Disclaimer: From the first sight it looks like oriental wisdom about sitting on the river bank and waiting for the corpse of your enemy. Strategically it is exactly the same. However tactically it isn’t. Please, don’t think that you should do just nothing and you’ll get the result. You must be part of the process, you must participate in building it. Do your job as you usually do. The only thing you should not do is to define the process until it is clear and proved to be working.

Inspired by:

First One Free

The next design pattern comes from Machiavellian Lens pack and called “First One Free”. I have chosen it as a second pattern to show because it looks absolutely natural and easy to use.

It is described as:

Can you give something away which gets people interested or addicted, so they come back and pay for more?

As an example from design point of view it says:

Offering one chapter (often the introduction) free has become increasingly common as a way of promoting new books more widely.

I bet your first reaction is that this is not a design but a sales pattern. And you are absolutely right. That is the psychology pattern. So, it can be used everywhere.

However, I guess that you think about sales process while trying to recognize the usage of it. But as you remember this series of posts is about management. It might sound ridiculous but sales is the natural part of management.

50% of your time you sell. You sell the work to your subordinates. You sell your results to boss. You sell your ideas to everybody around. And you sell, sell, sell.

Thus, this is your pattern. As an example think about selling a new idea to your boss. You can just come to him and describe it. Natural and easy way of communication but no warranty to get an approval for the implementation. Alternatively, you can sell him a free part of the idea. Implement the first step and gift it to him. Don’t ask anything. It will be your boss who will ask you to move further.

Disclaimer: the weakest points of all junior sales people are overselling and underpricing. Think about it when planning your first action that will be done for free.

Inspired by:

Degrading Performance

Lets start with Machiavellian Lens that are even by name close to management.

Original description of the pattern says:

Can you degrade the performance of a product or system until users comply with some behaviour change you want?

And illustrated by:

Some Nokia phones allegedly sense when a 3rd-party battery is used and switch into a high-power mode so it runs out more quickly.

If we switch to managerial topics this is the pattern that can be used to adjust the behavior of people you work with.

For example you want your team to work on their own. You trust your guys and they are able to do the job themselves. However, historically you are the one who makes decisions and drives the process.

Classical management says – delegate! Brilliant suggestion. The only question is left: How? And here goes the mentioned pattern. Just degrade your performance. They’ll have to start doing the job themselves.

Your can work visibly slow or become unavailable on irregular basis. So, there is no one to decide and the team has to rebuild the process naturally to eliminate the bottleneck. It is up to you to define how exactly you change you performance to force the change. Each situation is unique and you should act accordingly.

Disclaimer: I do understand that from the point of view of classical management this approach sounds ridiculous. But it works. That is one of my favorite patterns of delegation implementation. Add this weapon to your armory. Your can be blamed for bad performance but no one will blame you for bad performance as a tool.

Inspired by:

Design in Management

Those people who know me personally are aware that I love two things leadership/management that I do for living and design that inspires me to live. And these two things are not a stuff from different sides of the world. They are tightly interconnected as everything around us.

Recently I saw a website that collected and categorized a number of design patterns in a perfect way. Thanks to Dan Lockton who did this.

This collection of cards inspired me to add a dimension from managerial world to each pattern and show that they can be used not only in design.

The next set of posts is dedicated to it.