As business and IT leaders look for opportunities to gain a competitive advantage, a Pattern-Based Strategy will enable them to drive change, rather than react to it, according to Gartner. These leaders will need to focus on four disciplines to successfully adopt a Pattern-Based Strategy.

A Pattern-Based Strategy provides a framework to proactively seek, model and adapt to leading indicators, often-termed "weak" signals that form patterns in the marketplace. Not only will leading organisations excel at identifying new patterns and exploiting them for competitive advantage, but their own innovation will create new patterns of change within the marketplace that will force others to react.
“Today we can find examples of organisations of applying elements of Pattern-Based Strategy within their business, and technology vendors providing solutions that meet specific business needs,” says Val Sribar, group vice-president of Research at Gartner. “However, we believe that significant market advantage will be gained by organisations that adopt all the disciplines needed to implement a Pattern-Based Strategy, and by those technology providers that seek to enable this transition.
“Hindsight is 20/20, and it will always remain so. But we now see the emerging ability, through adopting the disciplines and technologies of a Pattern-Based Strategy, of foresight to approach that level of accuracy, and for businesses to move in this direction to increase their competitive advantage,” Sribar says.
Gartner analysts have identified four disciplines to successfully adopting a Pattern-Based Strategy. They include: pattern seeking, optempo (operational tempo) advantages, performance-driven culture, and transparency.
* Pattern seeking – Pattern seeking comprises focusing on the competencies, activities, technologies and resources that expose signals which may lead to a pattern that will have a positive or negative impact on strategy or operations – focusing on those areas of vulnerability or risk and innovation/opportunity for the business. Seeking patterns can mean looking inside or outside the organisation, and involves exploiting the new power of the collective, i.e. exploiting collective knowledge with creative activities, and exploiting collective activities as an unexplored source of patterns. “The collective is made up of individuals, groups, communities, crowds, markets and firms that shape the direction of society and business,” says Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “The collective is not new, but technology has made it more powerful – and enabled change to happen more rapidly. The explosion of social software, for example, has enabled groups and individuals to rapidly form and rally to a cause, often resulting in significant societal changes.”
* Optempo advantage – Gartner terms optempo advantage as representing the set of coherent guidelines and actions necessary for maximising the allocation and utilisation of business resources as new patterns emerge. “In a Pattern-Based Strategy, an organisation excels by adjusting the relative speed of its operations better than competitors. However, businesses must first understand the levers they can control to drive change. These levers are people, process, and information. IT and business leaders can think of an optempo advantage as a formal management philosophy for improving their organisation's competitive rhythm so that it can consistently and dynamically match pace to purpose,” Sribar says.
* Performance-driven culture – A performance-driven culture enables an organisation to monitor leading indicators of change, and where performance is used to enable change through the alignment of organisational resources to strategic performance metrics. “Most organisations measure performance; they don't manage it. The traditional focus has been on measuring high-level, financially oriented outcomes after the event. This creates a reactive sense-and-respond mind-set,” Sribar says. “Today’s environment demands looking at leading performance and risk indicators to provide a forward-looking focus that then must permeate all levels of an organisation—rather than just providing top-level measures. Changes in business strategy and operations will be reflected in changes in performance metrics, which will then drive change in behaviours and operational tempo.”
* Transparency – In the context of a Pattern-Based Strategy, transparency means both the demonstration of corporate health and the strategic use of transparency for differentiation. If organisations can proactively evolve transparency from a once-a-quarter financial-results event to using it to set the right expectations of seeking new patterns and responding with consistent results, this proactive use will enable them to enter new markets, gain access to funds that competitors can't access and demonstrate differentiation to customers and suppliers.