4/1 – Tim Winton’s PatternDynamics

Alia Aurami, Laurel Johnson and Amanda Suutari

Tim Winton’s PatternDynamics™ Level One Training, Bellingham, Washington, USA, January 26, 2014

Alia Aurami, Laurel Johnson, Amanda Suutari

Alia Aurami’s Review

Alia Aurami

Alia Aurami

Note: Most of my text below is close paraphrase or near-quotation, and except as otherwise noted, “I” is Tim. Reflections and comments by this author, and “I” as this author, should be clear in each instance. This author, Alia, is of course fully responsible for any of my inadvertent misrepresentations of what was said. All images used by permission of Tim Winton.

The reason I went to this training and am willing to write this report is partly that – as an Integrally-oriented spiritual leader working with organizational collective intelligence – I very much resonate with the idea of regarding organizations, groups/businesses as living systems. And does it seem reasonable to you, as it does to me, to use that lens to help organizations toward optimal functioning by noticing how well they operate in harmony with the principles we can discern in all living systems? If so, read on! (And read further. There is a great deal free on the Internet about PatternDynamics. See Endnote 1.)[i]

Along with almost twenty others, I recently had the good fortune and rare opportunity (in the U.S.)[ii] to participate in the one-day Level 1 (of 3) Certification Training in PatternDynamicsTM –a newly-developing, Integrally-informed way of

  • discerning the natural principles/patterns are most influentially operating in any given living system (including human systems,)
  • figuring which patterns are operating in or out of internal optimization and ecological balance/harmony/synergy/generativity, and
  • discovering creative collaborative ways to help the people involved in a human system function more in the natural harmonic/generative versions of those patterns and the system(s) they represent.

The training I attended was organized and also co-led by David MacLeod of the Transition Whatcom (county) organization in Bellingham, WA. David is now the first certified PatternDynamics Workshop facilitator other than founder Tim Winton.[iii]

Figure 1: David MacLeod and Tim Winton in Bellingham, Washington (2013)

Figure 1: David MacLeod and Tim Winton in Bellingham, Washington (2013)

For the lineage and conceptual context of PatternDynamics and in the interest of less length of this Report, the reader is referred to the extensive online information referenced in Endnote 1, and the brief descriptions below, including by Laurel Johnson and Amanda Suutari in their Reviews below. Also in the interest of brevity, the primary textbook of the workshop, which was the free downloadable workbook mentioned in Endnote 1, and the sequence of the day, which is in the workbook, are accessible via the resources linked in that Endnote and are only briefly described below.

Embodied Leadership with Nature as Our Guide

Doesn’t the “Integral” in Integral Leadership mean having a variety of leadership “tools” available and discerning when each would be most effective? And doesn’t that “Integral” also mean embodying each tool, thus transcending and including them as separate lenses/frameworks/systems to be applied in given situations, so that ultimately one’s own self as leader is the “tool” being used, for leadership as self-expression (and then perhaps transcending and including even that by synergy with others, by collective intelligence, and then by oneself becoming the tool for a larger Emergent Collective Intelligence?)

And do you, like me, favor “tools”/lenses/frameworks which draw not just from human wisdom about human relational dynamics/human systems, but also from whatever we might discern about Nature’s wisdom for her “living systems”?

For quite awhile I’ve been interested in that sequence of development for Leadership and in lenses which keep us humans from straying too far from Nature’s tried and true patterns, so it’s been “natural” for me to explore Tim Winton’s PatternDynamics framework. During this day, I got more insights into Integral Leadership than were “taught,” and I plan to continue my studies.

The Nutshell of the Leadership Context of PD

In the proverbial nutshell, here’s what I came away with on that meta-level. It might be that one possible expression of leadership, or we might say that one variety or function of leadership, is:

To have a choice of frameworks or lenses with which to view a situation
To have a choice of values to be served by a chosen framework (purpose is one possible value)
To pick a value and then sense which framework would best serve it
To apply that framework(s) skillfully, perceptively, “accurately,” co-creatively, effectively (doing justice to all factors relevant to the value)


To be able to convey all that in such a way that people in the situation become aware they have a choice or choices they were not aware of before
To help them be more aware of which criteria they have relevant to the choice,
To make the choice together in such a way that everyone is at least satisfied or has ways to become satisfied, if not totally on board.

Doing all of that real-time, dancing with “now” and instantly being able to zoom out, go “meta,” and apply the framework itself realtime to the actual process of teaching the framework, to the workshop dynamics, as they unfolded in the “now” – that’s what we experienced! Tim Winton teaches, and models, all those skills just described. Tim characterized who we were together in the workshop as “a learning organization” but I might prefer to call us “a living learning laboratory.” That’s because the content, what we were learning about, was being applied as the framework/language realtime to describe and analyze what was happening during the day, and then make new choices and decisions about some of our activity together, based on that analysis. It’s easier to learn the words “eating” and “apple” while eating an apple. The whole process was juicier!!

The Conceptual Context of PD

This is explained at length in the workbook and on the website, linked above, but most briefly, Tim summarized for us the historical, social, conceptual context for PD: why it exists, how it came to be, what it’s responding to.

PD represents an intersection of permaculture, sustainability design, sustainability education, and Integral Theory. It is a social enterprise and is an emergent system itself. Via these workshops and the PD “Community of Practice” (COP), PD is being made more conceptually detailed, clear, unfolded/explicated, and coherent/internally consistent, as well as expanding in a variety of ways. Tim also does organizational development professional consulting based in Australia. The structure of the PD social enterprise with its purpose of (what might be called) “Pattern literacy for children and thus adults” (see Endnote 5) are described briefly in Endnote 4.[iv]

The Patterns/Principles

Here is the briefest of glimpses into what PatternDynamics is talking about, to better facilitate an understanding of the rest of this report.

The 7 “First-Order Patterns/Principles” of every Living System are Rhythm, Polarity, Structure, Exchange, Creativity, Dynamics, and Source. The Second-Order Patterns are like different facets of or ways of looking at each First-Order Pattern as it interacts with each of the others; that’s my impression as a beginner to PD. Each of the 6 other First-Order Patterns can be seen as a facet of the Primary First-Order Pattern called Source.

The first image below shows the relationship of the First and Second Order Patterns arranged as a Holarchy, or circular display.

Figure 2: Holarchy

Figure 2: PatternDynamicsTM Holarchy Chart of the First-order and Second-order Patterns

This second image is a linear, 2-dimensional 2-axis matrix display of all including the Second-Order Patterns.

Figure 3 Matrix Chart

Figure 3: PatternDynamicsTM Matrix Chart of the First-order and Second-order Patterns

The free downloadable workbook defines and describes each First-Order Pattern at length, with examples. Tim noted that once learned, all the patterns can be combined into infinite other patterns, and anything can be represented by the “alphabet” of these patterns.

PD is Based on the Simple Ideas of Nature and Language, Combined

1. Sustainable Natural Patterns and
2. The Power of Language
which together allow a
3. Sustainability/Integral/Universal Pattern Language

The first idea is that Nature has persisted for hundreds of millions of years and it is useful for us to identify the consistent natural patterns of how life (including human life) is organized.

Second is that language, communication, signifying, is a powerful way of bringing forth, creating the world. It turns out that language allows us to see aspects of the world more fully which otherwise would probably be invisible to us, and that seeing in turn allows us to see whole systems more fully.

The symbols of PD represent 7 simple principles of how all natural systems work; all systems seem to have these, and there might be others. PD provides a way to combine these (into the 49 Second-Order Patterns and the combinations of all of them) so it can become an alphabet, and then with greater fluency, become a language, so that any cultural system can be constructed in this language. That is important because these frames, ways of looking at the world, do structure our reality. It’s a language to use to explore a terrain together, and become more flexible, to increase our adaptive capacity.  One of the competencies this workshop fosters is learning to “think” in that “language.”

Those two things together lead to the third idea, a sustainability-integral-universal pattern language. These Patterns of natural systems are universal; signifying them with symbols allows us to see them and thus to have conversations about them, and then we can create new systems.

The graphic symbols of the 7 First-order Patterns are PD. Learning these Patterns (principles of complexity,) like learning principles of anything, will help us work better, communicate better.

The Training Day Format

This is described briefly by both Laurel Johnson and Amanda Suutari in their reviews below, so I’ll just mention three aspects of the workshop design I found especially remarkable. First, the way the sequence of exploration of the patterns in the Pattern demonstration/embodiment movement exercises built in complexity through the 7 was quite remarkable, as was the extra creativity which obviously had gone into the design/translation of the Patterns into these small-group exercise movements.


Figure 4 Exercise MovementFigure 4: Training Exercises Embodying the Patterns

Second, in the small-group conversations applying each Pattern in turn to our individual life, Tim emphasized that the conversation was to be specific, focused, asking for feedback, concrete, meaningful, rich, useful. When we debriefed those conversations, Tim asked for especially meaningful examples which had emerged for us. This emphasis reflected the importance given to personal application in Level One competencies in PD. (More about that below.)

Third, all input was welcomed in the debriefing conversations, and it was clear Tim was on the lookout for insights new to him which he could take back to the PD COP. The level of sophistication and wisdom in the training group for the day definitely generated a few of those insights, I’m betting!

The Most Profound and Valuable Insights I Got as a Leader

Having given that background frees me to now explore some aspects of the day which were of special significance to me, and perhaps of special interest to others. The rest of this report will be about various points I found most intriguing/valuable, unusual, or moving. These are not in order of the day’s events nor in order of importance.

First: PatternDynamics Enables and Enhances Human Dignity

Tim mentioned several times that he recently completed MetaIntegral’s Embodied Practitioner Certification Program and that it had a profound impact on him. One example was that beyond his passion for his project, he realized what he “stood for” most deeply was human dignity. PD is in service to that because if people are marginalized or excluded from the conversations co-creating the world, they don’t have the dignity of having the invitation and right to participate in those conversations. He noted there is a polarity between the whole, a planetary civilization, and one of its parts which is human dignity – that you can’t participate in the whole effectively unless you have your full human dignity to step into the space and be able to participate.

PD is an accessible-to-everyone language which helps us have better conversations so we can co-create systems rather than being unconscious about the kind of systems that impact our collective. The language accessible to everyone has enormous impacts on the kinds of relationships we can have, kinds of conversations, and values we form. With respect to who he means by “everyone” Tim described why he believes that PD is not specific to a developmental stage and can in fact be understood and used by children. See Endnote 5 for elaboration on these beliefs.[v]

Second: PD Helps Leaders Manage Complexity Using Collaborative Collective Intelligence for Planetary Challenges

One of the frames PD uses is that of helping leaders (and he says everyone is a leader because we all affect others, probably many others) manage complexity better. Our increasingly complex world – which has all kinds of impacts on our lives – is one of the challenges of our time, generating tensions and challenges. PD is a framework which helps us see complexity better, understand it better, and therefore be able to communicate more effectively about it and therefore about making changes. This enables communities to process complexity; it calls communities into action, so we can then form the systems we want, affording everyone the dignity of co-creating that

Humanity’s future really now requires collaborative intelligence at really high levels and requires inclusion in all decisions of the wisdom of multiple perspectives. Many voices need to be included in the conversation to get the richest perspective on this complex reality and to coordinate the most intelligence coming up with our solutions. I think 21st century organizations lead in creating this thing I call planetary civilization. It is not enough to fight what we don’t want. We must have reconstructive ways to engage with the world. PD can facilitate that.

PD exemplifies an Integral approach: This is always a conversation. Everyone’s right and they are bringing some wisdom. The idea is to use this to coordinate the usefulness of everyone’s perspective into a more collaborative collective intelligence rather than just impose something on someone else.

He said: This really powerful technique doesn’t change things overnight, but it certainly empowers us to see things differently, start asking different questions, communicate and form different agreements and values, what’s important. Maybe we as social change agents, and as a community can introduce another conversation to our world, an extraordinarily powerful act of social technology or cultural practice of forming new norms.

For example, maybe we decide that productivity via specialization isn’t the principle we are going to orient our whole society around; perhaps we’re going to bring in another principle and make it an object of our awareness – that for example sometimes resilience as well as productivity leads to greater overall outcomes. (The workshop participants and Tim had a discussion about economic theories or models, and how the Exchange pattern can help understand them and evaluate them and the arguments supporting them.)

Tim also talked about learning PD as one of the ways people are co-creating a better world. We’re in a “cognitive minority,” early adopters of this way of being, of these norms. Making that what’s called a normative conversation, where that becomes so much of a strong norm amongst us as a community, the community can demonstrate its effectiveness as a principle so widely that it is no longer possible to ignore the benefits. As soon as we, even in our small rooms of people, start having other conversations that are more powerful than the ones others can have in the mainstream of our society, even though there are other ways influencers shape the norms of our society, then we can shape the norms of our society. It’s a game-changer, empowering ourselves to have different conversations and regain our dignity and our power.

Third: PD as One Tool in the Leader’s Toolbag, and What that Tool Can Do

He pointed out PD by itself is not sufficient as a framework or tool to deal with all aspects of every situation. “The way I describe it is an application. You need to bring in other things, like Integral and action-logics; we need to bring in Marilyn Hamilton’s work, and we need to bring in lots of different combinations but it is a useful app you need to put on your operating system.” Like a pair of visegrips: you can do a lot of stuff with it because it’s not very specialized, and it’s just a tool. You can do strategy with it; you can have nice rich conversations with it; you can work in the family with it; you can analyze current events with it, or have drinking games with it.

Tim said there are three main ways to use the tool of PD for organizations: Strategy, Effectiveness, and Design. (He didn’t talk about design during this workshop.)

3A. PD as an effective tool for strategy work

High level strategy: He said when he shows up with corporate executives, he helps them see their system in a whole new way they find that extraordinarily valuable. In response to a request, Tim spent some time describing an example of how he used PD to help an organization which had asked for help. Among the general points I gleaned from that were.

We made object something that was subjectively embedded in people’s experience but wasn’t something they were aware of. By being able to collectively see how that pattern/principle worked in their organization they could make an adjustment. It’s being able to see the system more fully and then help them see the system and have a conversation about it and then able come up with highly leveraged outcomes, and change something that makes a big difference. Those decisions have high enrollment. Everyone understands why those decisions are being made, because they are being made collectively, based on collective intelligence.

So that’s strategy work. This is understanding of Patterns, so it’s PD scan/diagnostics and recommendations. Helping people enact that strategy is called organizational effectiveness.

3B. PD as an effective tool for organizational effectiveness

One can put strategy in place, but our approach is that strategy is not something you put in a document enacted over 5 years step by step. Management does the strategy stuff and used to go down the hierarchical chain of command to enact the strategy over time. Not good enough. So then we are organizational effectiveness specialists to help iterative agile changes be meaningful to people, in fact, they have to come from the people who are enacting the strategy, and not only do we give you agile strategy but make sure there’s high enrollment when you are changing strategy so that you are effective.

That’s the bulk of the consulting work Tim and his group do. He said. Coming in and doing strategy and analysis (using PD as one tool) is great because we can usually give people really interesting and unique insights they haven’t seen before which allows them to see we might have a greater offering and then we can come in and do the organizational effectiveness work; those are long term engagements usually with the program that works over time.

PD is also an effective organizational development tool where you develop cultural sustainability, have these rich conversation about what kind of organizational changes you do want and what groups do want, so that’s more of a process.

3C. PD as an effective tool for conflict resolution and shifting emotionally-loaded situations

One of the great things about the tool of PD – especially helpful to coaches, consultants and other change agents – is being able to shift conversations from personal level to the systems level. Instead of the emotional sting of personal fault and blame, we talk about principles being enacted by the system, and how collective intelligence can help changes happen toward more generative Pattern functioning. That gets everyone on board, creating enrollment and agreement, more easily. Tim was a sustainability advocate for 20 years, and could see the need for this in organizations focused on sustainability.

He told us: There are many different ways of doing conflict resolution work, this pretty useful. You could bring into it a situation if you were to say: I know there is a lot of emotional tension around this issue but can we just check in with our real purpose here, what are we doing, and how is this serving, and what are people actually saying? I know everyone here is bringing a wisdom; I know we’re in conflict right now but everyone’s bringing a perspective, point of view. How do we integrate those points of view to get the best outcome rather than thinking these are innately in conflict?

Fourth: Levels of Competencies in Using PD

Learning PD can empower us in our lives, and we can apply our learning today to life right away; no need to wait for conceptual mastery: take risks if we are to serve the world best.

Three steps in how to use PD as a method: understanding, communication, design. Or we could say, first person empowerment, second person conversation, third person (systems) outcomes.

Level I of PatternDynamics training (our One Day Workshop) is focused on 1st Person Understanding of the First Order Patterns.

Level II training is focused on 2nd Person Communication using the pattern language of PatternDynamics, getting to first order Pattern fluency and 2nd Order Pattern competency. PD is used as a “perspectival systems thinking tool” to facilitate this collaborative thinking process: “purpose driven collaborative systems thinking.”  This training can lead to becoming a certified facilitator or coach.

Level III training is about 3rd person application and design using PD. The goal is to gain total fluency in all the Patterns and to develop an application of PD to systems for outcomes. This is training to become a certified PatternDynamics Consultant, and it is likely that one would choose an application in a field where one already has a certain level of expertise. David is currently considering doing a Level III project to integrate PD into a Permaculture Design Certification course (designing a structure to bring the PD design tool into a related “design” course that PD actually grew out of, if that makes any sense). 🙂

4A. First Level Competency: Scanning/Reading, Understanding for Empowerment

In First Level Competency you learn two key skills: Identify the principles behind how complex living systems work, including our cultural and social systems and learn a form of collaborative systems thinking using just these 7 patterns and the principles they represent. You develop a familiarity with all the rest of the patterns. (Fluency beyond just familiarity however is a second level of competency and takes a period of time.)

(Tim gave an example of how he learned to see/read his land.) In this Level One training, our primary goal is to empower ourselves to understand the patterns/principles so we can see and read a system, or complex social landscapes, especially those systems in our lives which are alive and important to us as individuals – this is about personal empowerment first and foremost.

How is that done? The way to sense into whether these patterns are adjusted, or whether there’s something that could be worked with, is in your body: a feeling, knot in gut, tension, something “wrong,” something “off.”  So you know you might want to raise a point, or make an adjustment. Tensions are to be noticed because they are information which can be interpreted and then used to make beneficial changes. I don’t tend to do it in a formulaic way. Like learning the alphabet, some things you just have to remember and then once you’ve remembered the basics you kind of have a competency and familiarity.

Everything has all of these patterns operating. What we are searching/scanning for, picking out, prioritizing, is which ones feel like the essential important one(s) in a particular social dynamic or interaction. This is where cognition comes in, the Matrix chart. Locate the prominent general First-Order pattern, and check its sub-patterns. Then we use this knowledge to create a more generative situation/conversation.

4B. Second Level Competency: Communication

With Level Two competencies we are fluent with these patterns: in any situation, story, or conversation, we can recognize these pretty much straight away because we are so familiar with them. When you are fluent with all 56 it’s more useful to have a couple of other PD-fluent people who can reflect to you, several people looking at the same situation have a conversation until we are all in agreement that the discerned patterns are the ones that matter, and what their relationship is. but you can do it yourself. That’s where the empowerment lies. Don’t wait until you are fluent, to begin to apply and benefit from your knowledge of PD.

Sometimes we combine them, like if those were letters of the alphabet we combine them into words and sentences. We can signify any kind of system dynamic via combining; for example, resilience is not on the chart; it is a combination of patterns.

In Level Two we learn to communicate with the Pattern language effectively so we can get enough enrollment and collective intelligence on board to create new situations from new conversations.

He said: In pretty much any situation I can “read” what’s going on at a high level very fast. That’s why people pay me to show up for a day and do strategy  or organizational development work for them. It’s like a form of wizardry to people. The light bulb goes on for them, after they tell you for example that they’ve got two teams, and a leader [RA1] from one team is trying to poach people from the other team, and you tell them, Look, this is really a Boundary System Pattern issue, and there is no need to get into personal bad/good, blame, right/wrong, it’s how do you adjust the boundary’s strength of permeability: who can leave the boundary and who can enter the boundary and have influence inside. You can decide that the boundaries are very strong and it’s not appropriate for people to enter or leave the teams or that they are very permeable and can overlap. The “problem” seems clear and solvable as a system issue, not a personal issue.

Fifth: Exploring the Central Pattern: Source
5A. Source Pattern as both Origin Source Code and Evolution of Meaning

As a minister which for me Alia includes being an Integral Leader, I found this pattern, and our many ways of looking at it and exploring and experiencing it during the day, most intriguing and valuable to my work with individuals and organizations. There are so many aspects and implications of this most-foundational pattern.

Tim said Source is one of the hardest things to understand in PD. Source is the origin, sort of the Source Code of a system. He noted: as a human being, I have a Source Pattern of how all my parts are organized. A candle flame has a Source Pattern. Anything that exists is a variation on a theme – a variation on a Pattern – and that Pattern is its Source Code.

Source Pattern for an organization is the identity and purpose of the organization. We are always interested in the degree of generativity of that Source. Knowing that enables us to ask highly useful questions such as: Is the conversation we’re having right now, or what is happening right now, and our projected changes, serving the generativity of our mutual source/purpose, or fracturing/diminishing it? And how do we adjust our system to enhance generativity? That is a powerful act; I think 50% of the self-organizing capacity of any organization is alignment around purpose. Level One Competencies include the ability to ask such questions.

Of course things adapt, change, and evolve through time. Source Pattern includes also the evolution of the meaning that brings coherence to the system, and the evolutionary process needs to retain a connection to the system’s origin yet allow it to evolve and unfold over time. If there’s too much of a break, you lose a lot of enrollment, and you lose a lot of the meaning that involved people originally. Often this is when things fail, after they move too far from their origin or source of meaning. Lots of organizations make this mistake. It’s always worth asking the question and having the conversation about how much to evolve our identity and purpose.

5B. Where is the Source Pattern located?

Some fascinating realizations came up for this author around this particular question. As we did the progressively more complex embodied group movements around each Pattern, the location of Source began to shift. In the foundational Patterns (Rhythm, Polarity, Structure, Exchange) the “Source” of the signals to which we all responded in our movements was central (David’s small group) and every other group was on its own to detect the signal and move in accord with it. At the Pattern of Dynamics, the signal from Source had to be ongoing, because the system of all-of-us was more tied together, and everybody had to tune into it all the time, not just to start things off, if there was to be coherence/unity/simultaneity. Tim said that is part of the “state experience,” that people are required to be collectively more and more aware in the moment of what’s going on in the system.

Tim noted that as we get to the more foundational Pattern of Source, centralization of Source tends to break down; he has seen that it will begin to ripple around the room, you can sense it, source is becoming more distributed, being carried by everyone in the room. He noted that as so-called leader, he questions: am I leading or am I being led?

This also seemed to be the evolution of “location” because one participant said she found herself earlier looking “up in the air” for the location of the Source (signals) and later was actually looking more horizontally around the room where the location seemed to have moved to. To me, as a participant, the “location” seemed to shift similarly, from being “up there” or central, to being distributed around the room, and then some blend of those which was a “field” of Source sending out its signals. (Tim doesn’t seem to go as far as locating such things in/as Morphic Fields the way Ken Wilber does.)

And somehow, to me, this was related to an insight I spoke: When we say that Source is the purpose we usually think of the human side of the purpose but where we got to in the Source exercise was a silence and there’s a certain paradoxical sense or partial truth in which purpose can be disclosed to/discovered by everyone in silence rather than decided in discussion.

5C. Source as a Shared Field of Awareness

The musings above about the location of the Source seeming to become a “field” actually generated a great deal of conversation among us. This was among the juiciest stuff of the training day for me, as I am very into emergent (transpersonal) collective intelligence.

Tim stated that Source is also a kind of awareness, in the human sense: a system’s conscious identity and purpose. He noted that our society is only starting to not have a problem with, say, horses and monkeys having consciousness. There was an idea there for awhile that consciousness only resided in human beings.

Tim’s experience (and that of many of us) is that shared awareness, being present together, creates a certain kind of field of awareness and it’s helpful to point that out. We’re really present and aware of what each other is saying and communicating about the system. He said that there is something different about what he calls the second-person space. There’s the individual, 1st person, and the system which is 3rd person/object, then there’s this field of our awareness which is so important to our coordination; it’s in that field that PD really works. He said it’s really profound, and involves a much different set of norms than we normally encounter in organizations. “I’d argue that if we are going to have that thriving planetary civilization it will have to become normal at that level.”

A participant asked: Is that the same as Integral We-space? Tim answered that it’s very similar. He said: I’ve written some to translate. We is the first person plural. LR quadrant is eco-space 3rd person objects, but second person space is not a whole bunch of I’s, it is more like a “Thou.” it’s a field of awareness that is not just a bunch of individuals. It is a space in and of itself which is normally invisible to us in the western world. We are just coming to terms with what culture is and how powerful second person space can be, with creative principles, values, principles, shared interiorities. He said: it’s different from a bunch of interiorities together; it’s a field.

So it’s a very potent way of working. Because it’s invisible, you can’t always come out and say that in an organizational setting. Because we’ve had this experience together here today, of this field during our exercises especially of Source Pattern, we’ve experienced the nature of this field. It’s real. It happens on physical, emotional, and mental levels, and I would also say in the field of awareness itself. In it, we are both unique and “one.” Tim led us in a guided visualization about the uniqueness of each individual mushroom in a fungal network which is “one.” He also described his philosophical position about awareness as “panpsychic” versus materialistic, and his middle ground position of pan-semiotic (signals everywhere) view. Semiotics is the theory of how we communicate and make meaning. In every recognizable whole or system, there is some kind of shared awareness. He said: I might hold that view that there’s a kind of awareness, different at different levels, which is a requisite for any kind of organization in the universe and the Patterns are in there somewhere. So our awareness is important in how well we can organize ourselves and how generative we can be.

5D. Personal Experiences of The Field and its Implications for Bettering the World

I got a bit choked up with empathy and alignment when Tim was saying: I don’t know about you all but I don’t get to do this every day with a group of people I’ve just met. Sometimes I describe myself as a Source junkie and I need my hit. I know I actually consider myself a practitioner and this is an important part of my practice and I’m always happy to find people who might enjoy this as part of their practice. I think these are the kind of practices which will become norms in our organizational life because we need a whole new level of sophistication as human beings and a whole new level of relationality and a whole new way of being. Fields of awareness can be rich, highly functional, and people can operate intuitively in them.

5E. Source Pattern of the Day’s Training

At the start of the day Tim said that our Source Pattern today is to form a temporary learning organization to explore this topic and gain some competencies. We have that Source as our central organizing principle and we’ll always go back to Source in everything we do today. We had a conversation about changing the rhythm of the introductions, and we were adjusting our rhythm pattern to serve our Source [of learning]. So I would like to have a conversation together, [RA2] making a commitment to our Source which can serve as a template to get started on the rest of our conversations. Are we happy to commit to and collectively say this together? Any tensions we want to adjust? (We all read the Agreement simultaneously out loud together.)

5F. Source Pattern of this Notes from the Field Report

I thought it might be interesting for this author to state my own Source Pattern/Purpose for writing this Notes report. Every choice of wording, content, format, and organization of the content, flowed from this Source Pattern. The Source governed all the aspects of the “system” of this report, serving as the ultimate criterion for all decisions, including all the myriad background logistical/life choices related to the producing of the article. Most simply that Source is: Readers who become more interested in learning more about PatternDynamics. (Of course there is a deeper or more overarching Source Pattern at play in me, that of my primary spiritual ministry/soul-purpose of co-creating a better world by having more people with wider awareness.)

Sixth: General System Health and Health-related Interventions

I found the simplicity of this summary by Tim potentially useful without necessarily being a detrimental oversimplification, because the principles are so fundamental. Tim said there are basically three practices or imbalances which undermine the sustainability of any system. It seemed clear to me however that any pattern out of optimal functioning, will undermine the healthiness of a system. I gather that these are just among the most common and general imbalances.

1. Future-present
2. Tangible value-intangible value
3. Whole-part

First, you can undermine the future of the system for its present, or vice versa. That’s one of the primary definitions of sustainability for the environmental system, maintaining the capacity of the environment to support future generations. A second way to decrease the health of a system is to increase tangible value in the system at the expense of intangible value, or vice versa. A third way is to benefit the whole of the system at the expense of a part or parts, or vice versa.

Tim explained there are at least two fundamental approaches to intervening to make a system better. One is to look for diseased or unhealthy parts and try to make them healthy. That’s an orientation, looking for pathology. Or you can take the opposite approach, which a colleague of Tim’s (Will Varey) has signified as “Apithology.” It is the opposite of pathology-focus because it asks how to find points which if altered would increase generativity. (Seeking “acupuncture” points in the system of greatest leverage for strengthening what is already working, so it seems to this author.) Tim noted the first approach is trying to bring system elements not working well up to a baseline and the second starts at the baseline and makes system elements more generative. That is the concept of thriving or flourishing, as well as the relief of suffering.

As a participant I tried to glean through the day how the health of a system would be conceptualized in PD. As far as I can tell the overarching values in all Patterns include generativity and sustainability toward Purpose. Those are what “thriving and flourishing” are composed of. So given a Source/purpose, those are the criteria for the healthiness of instantiations or enactions of any Pattern. An organization also needs unity and/or coherence, I gathered. It seemed that to Tim, unity as experienced in our exercises was “all doing exactly the same thing,” whereas coherence was “our finding the unity within our diversity, a coherent whole; you can feel when it happens.”

Another variable related to system health is that there is at least one fundamental polarity to be balanced within EACH of these patterns. (The particular polarities are different for each pattern. For example, in Exchange one polarity is specialist vs generalist and another is flows vs stores of resources.) The three variables mentioned above seem to this author examples of polarities which can get unbalanced. There needs to be a dynamic balance and integration of all those factors which can undermine the optimal/healthiest functioning or expression of a Pattern for a given system at a given time and context. It’s always good to ask: What balance and integration would be most generative or serve the system’s Source most fully?

Seventh: Insights about Feedback/Signals, Polarity, and Creativity

Tim said that feedback is about amplifying or diminishing a behavior based on input to the system. When parts interact, they are following signals; their goal is always to get back to or find unity by paying attention to all the signals (which in our exercises got harder as the system interactions got more complex, and some people gave up.) We saw in the exercises that some people in any system inevitably have better access to the Source’s signals and then they have a different responsibility to others who get signals from others, not directly from Source. This extra responsibility to sense and transmit signals along established lines of communication is often self-discovered rather than requested or imposed.

Another aspect of signals from Source and from other parts is that we benefit from becoming aware of, and expanding beyond, our favored senses or channels for signal input. We want increasing level of awareness, system consciousness, being able to detect, process, and transmit all the subtle levels of signals using a variety of perceptual channels and communication methods – and even to detect and respond to issues around control of signal transmission.

Several useful insights Tim gave into polarity: Whether a pole is good or bad depends on context and situation. Polarities generate potential, so it’s best to not try to eliminate them entirely!

Enantiodromia (a term from Carl Jung meaning “counter-running.”): The farther you go to a polar extreme, the more energy pushing toward its opposite will emerge. You can learn to read when pressure is building, where massive swing toward the opposite is getting ready to break out in a system. As a change agent, you have enormous systems leverage if you tune into places of emergent breakouts and start movement back to the other side. Everything related to the Dynamics Pattern has that big leverage in affecting the system.

Most systems seem to function pretty well if they’ve got good basic functions of rhythm, balancing of their polarities, they’ve got good structure and they’re exchanging something between themselves and the outside world. Then something changes and the system has to adapt to change, which is Creativity Pattern. The first four Patterns added albeit not linearly. However, in Creativity, “it all rockets off into the stratosphere of complexity and functionality.”

We had an interesting discussion about whether creativity originates in problem-solving, and/or adaptively responding to change, and/or the innate drive toward novelty (and creative play, especially in humans.) We noted that Pattern literacy can help leaders normalize and relax the system by accepting that chaos happens in creating a new order, and noticing what is emerging instead of trying to manage/control something happening naturally. (It seems to me Alia, as a learner of PD that Source is in charge during this phase.)

We ended the day with a look into opportunities for PD study available or being developed.[vi]

Laurel Johnson’s Review

Laurel Johnson

Laurel Johnson

Do you remember the story of Johnny Appleseed?  For most, what comes to mind is the image of an American Pioneer with a love for apples planting seeds wherever he traveled. Like most legends we receive as children this is not the literal truth but a romanticized story representing the essence of one man’s mission.

Johnny Appleseed was born as John Chapman in Leominster, MA.  By the time of his death in 1845 he had established well over 1200 acres of apple tree nurseries. His mission was more organized than mere scattering of seeds to the wind. He held the apple as a symbol of growth and beauty. The planting of orchards served as a vehicle to share his respect for the cycles in nature and an opportunity for those who received his trees to nurture them, provide for their families and to prosper as the orchard flourished.  He took care to live by and share the Swedenborgian philosophy of The New Church.  Progressive for its time, the church sought to encourage education, individualism and social involvement. This philosophy and its manifestations served alongside the development and pioneering of the United States as a nation.

What if some of these foundational currents were to reemerge in a form higher on Maslow’s hierarchy and more readily accessible to the people and needs of our times?

Fast forward almost 170 years and we meet Tim Winton with a vision to provide a real and practical tool for creating the consciousness required to form truly sustainable, thriving global communities. PatternDynamics is this tool. The patterns are like the folders in a filing cabinet serving to organize a framework for increasingly complex types of operations in nature.  From there one can explore the essence within a pattern and the relationships of dynamics within systems.

In the first PatternDynamics workshop participants have the opportunity to anchor the First Order elements and begin to explore the nature of each. In PatternDynamics Two participants explore the second order patterns with an eye towards assessing a system for tensions and adjustments to its matrix for greater health.

During the workshops Tim models authentic query and respect for balancing value across an entire organization and organism. This breathes life into the two dimensional charts, generating potential for a new paradigm of awareness through the recognition and use of the energies at play. Discussion and movement exercises are explored to help anchor the relationships of the first order patterns into the body and mind.

Tim draws directly from the book of nature, the observable laws of the universe, the practice of Permaculture, the application of Ken Wilber’s Integral Theories and Christopher Alexander’s concepts for good pattern design. Its language is neutral enough to be applicable across a broad spectrum. We find PatternDynamics already being run through the paces in a variety arenas, including personal development and managing complex business dynamics. It is proving readily adaptable to the patterns, languages and systems found in nature and complex organizational structures.

Amanda Suutari’s Review

Amanda Suutari

Amanda Suutari

Since childhood, I have always been a big-picture thinker.  So when I grew up and discovered  the emerging field of complex systems, I felt like I had come home.  Adding to that the developmental, evolutionary frameworks of Integral theory, and I could begin to see the potential for us to create new structures of consciousness from which a higher resolution of the reality might be revealed.

As a consultant, coach and educator working with social enterprises and nonprofits, my passion is to support changemakers to create roadmaps to help us navigate the complexity and chaos of our times.  These maps can help surface relationships, trends, and configurations that were previously hidden amongst the surface details of localized situations.

In this information-saturated era, digital technology is facilitating an unprecedented volume of content on all fronts, but we are still using analogue, linear language inside of these technologies, creating a bottleneck.  We can increase our bandwidth all we like, but without making a corresponding shift in our language, we will not get past information processing into deeper sharing of meaning.

So, what if we started to refine and develop a language that allows us to see and think ‘further upstream’, and to share meaning that gets us to the heart of the matter with less words, more objectivity, and greater depth?

PatternDynamics (TM) is doing just that.  The Australian-based organization has been supporting and educating businesses, individuals and organizations in developing their ‘pattern literacy’ to discover points of intervention or leverage in our organizations and communities in order to catalyze more effective and sustainable change.

Based on archetypical structures and processes found in natural systems, the PatternDynamics model is a compendium of 7 basic patterns (First-Order patterns) that can be spotted across scales in our natural and social environments, and include, Rhythm, Source, Polarity, Creativity, Structure, Dynamics, and Exchange.  From here, more subtle variations on these 7 foundations can be identified, creating a total of 49 Second Order Patterns.

The 1-Day PatternDynamics workshop was a compelling introduction to the framework.  This interactive and experiential event brought together permaculture practitioners, systems thinkers and Integral enthusiasts for a day of fun, exploration, and learning.  Facilitator and PatternDynamics founder Tim Winton, along with David MacLeod set the context for the day, leading with the question: Why is an understanding of pattern dynamics important?  Then, they took us through the basics of the first-order patterns, using examples of how they play out in human and natural systems.   Participants also formed small groups and, through movement, breath and sound, explored how these patterns were embodied internally as well as within the groups.  Tim was also quick to notice when patterns would emerge during the day’s interactions and create ‘teachable moments’ by bringing them to the attention to the group.

The value for the day was in being to connect with like-minded folks, to share and learn from each other, and to deepen my own appreciation for, and understanding of, how to identify and communicate about patterns and how they in-form the systems in which we are embedded.  In leadership and team-building, helping people to appreciate how their various dynamics interact with larger systems empowers them to work more intentionally, even serve, the systems that we are a part of.


[i] The main website with a huge amount of information is Here is a link to the free download of the full workbook used in the Level One Trainng, with the images, diagrams, and description of each of the First Order Patterns There is a short video and the workbook on this site: . Recent blogs by Tim are here: Here is a webinar Tim did with Barrett Brown on Conscious Leadership for Sustainability

To review a 20-minute Powerpoint intro by Tim, check out this video: PatternDynamics Melbourne Workshop Introduction Keynote

[ii] In its current form (since October 2011), the PatternDynamics Level 1 Workshop has been done 5 times in Australia and 5 times in North America (San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Bellingham WA and Vancouver BC Canada).  David MacLeod, Alia Aurami, Marilyn Hamilton, and Trevor Malkinson wrote about a 2 hour workshop intro in Bellingham, and the Level 1 Training Workshop in Vancouver, B. C., Canada, both in early 2013, in a Notes from the Field in Integral Leadership Review: Tim Winton’s PatternDynamics Workshops in USA and Canada.

[iii] David blogs at Integral Permaculture. The workshop was co-sponsored by Transition Whatcom, RE-Sources for Sustainable Communities which hosted the workshop in their facility, Sustainable Connections, Whatcom Folk School, and Cascadia Workshops.

[iv] Structure of PD as an Organization: Tim explained the business/organizational structure of PD, in terms of planetary solution process, social purpose enterprise, corporation, for-profit, etc. “It is founded on a ‘Community of Practice’” (people who have completed at least Level 2 of the Certification Training.) It’s the COP which evolves, grows, and develops PD as a discipline. The COP people do that collectively and work with collective intelligence and have processes for that.

He explained that there are two ways PD is available for people’s use. He said that the mission is to spread PD as widely as possible so that it’s a tool available to everyone for co-creating systems of many kinds which will work better to help co-create what I call a thriving planetary civilization. From the individual perspective it’s about empowering you to enhance your own dignity, empowering you with a tool. So I hope this becomes a language, just like the language we are speaking now – that our kids grow up with a form of literacy about how systems work and how to create systems they want rather than put up with systems they don’t want. (See Endnote 5 about PD with children and developmental stages.)

[v] PD, Children, Inclusiveness, Concepts, and Developmental Stages:  Tim strongly affirmed that PD is for everyone, not for particular developmental stages or cultures. He said despite the opinion of some Integralists, PD is universal enough to allow everyone on the planet to have the same rich conversation.

Surprisingly and wonderfully to me, Tim said “I have a commitment to making this available to kids and finding really good ways for children to engage with this material.” He said there is a PD COP subgroup about this and that he leads a Cub Scout group in a generative learning environment in which they teach one another, and he experiments with the learning of his own children. Rather than having a complex conceptual conversation about the concepts, the ideas/principles get “naturalized into the world.”

Someone else asked: So can this be transmitted intuitively without attaching all the labels to it? Tim indicated that Level 3 comptency in PD (more about that elsewhere in this Notes) is knowing how to translate the Patterns effectively to any group of people in any situation. That is competence about a whole range of constructs you know and work with, about the group. Not only are Level 3 folks aware we are constructing reality with these frameworks, but we’re also really fluid, we can map them out for a situation and then we can give spoken combinations that are meaningful to people.

[vi] PD Study Opportunities: Level One Grads are in the PD “community,” are notified about new free online resources, and are eligible for local practice opportunities (as planned for here in Bellingham, WA)

Being invited into the COP requires the Level 2 training which is a 9-week online program for up to 9 people in a cohort, starting irregularly, next probably in April. Requirements include a prerecorded 40-60 minute lecture on the meaning of each second order pattern, one per week; a 20-minute blog posting from you about your experience in that week relating to the 2nd order pattern of that week; a weekly 90-min Google Plus recorded Hangout, we discuss our blog postings, then we discuss news and current events in relation to these patterns. David was in the pilot group. Thirty-three people are in the COP of Level 2 folks and we are putting into place the online infrastructure, including profiles, forums to discuss how PD evolves its own source and the evolution of some of these symbols and the system itself.

Level 3 year-long one-on-one training is about being able to language and communicate with PD in any group or situation, and to reconfigure and adapt it to any environments. You do a case study describing your use and learnings. There are 2-3 people close to completing level 3.

New “Foundation Course”: An online 12-week foundation course starting soon which covers 7 basic competencies as a foundation in how to work collaboratively at a really high level for social and organizational change. PD is the primary tool and skillset but it includes skills around perspective-taking, perspective-seeking, perspective coordination, collaboration, collective intelligence, systems thinking, contextual thinking, logic and decision-making. The course draws from Integral, PD, Lectica Assessment, Torbert’s Action-Inquiries. The Foundation course will involve social learning, personal teaching by Tim, and travel together. The course seems needed because nothing he’s seen offers people foundational competencies that would enable learning of PD to “stick” to the greatest extent. The course is an experiment to test out whether it helps.

New Free Online Course (for anyone with good intentions) teaching the handbook via weekly live Google Hangout with video, discussions of current affairs, and help people see Patterns. Recordings posted on YouTube.

About the Authors

Rev. Alia Zara Aurami, Ph.D. (nickname “OM”) is Head Minister of “Amplifying Divine Light in All” Church, an independent micro-church ( devoted to manifesting the highest vision of this planet through co-creating the specifics of a more spiritually-conscious world. Her current primary ministry is amplifying the human spiritual capacity for higher-consciousness collective intelligence. This includes helping world-improving organizations and groups enhance their natural and collective/spiritual intelligences so they can accomplish more with less. (See Her Integral-related blog with many about collective intelligence is  A longer bio is at  She may be reached at divinelightchurch at gmail dot com (Seattle, Washington, USA)

Laurel Johnson studied at the University of Washington. Her career began with computer systems, then shifted to a vocation with the healing arts in the late 90’s.  She is a member of a variety of non-profit organizations including historical, fraternal and genealogical societies. She currently resides in Seattle, WA.

Amanda Suutari is a coach and facilitator who works with non-profits, social innovators and leaders in the service of transformative living and working.  You can find out more on her website at .

Leave a Comment