Process Patterns


“As the wind picked up the waves grew in size until some were about two metres high they  were blown into the shore more quickly and I caught my breath as I saw a wave wash right  up onto the tarmac of the road. Then the wind dropped and the height of the waves dropped to less than a metre and the number of waves seemed to increase. There was almost a  musical quality to the whole picture – like a symphony of nature.”

Recognising rhythms and patterns in processes is a useful skill when we want to understand and  improve them. A good mechanic knows if a machine is faulty simply from the sound. Makers of  loudspeakers can ‘tweak’ performance from the sound waves produced! We can plot various types  of process pattern on graphs or, using computers we can capture such data ‘live’, as in a cardiometer in a hospital.

Case example

A case example of rhythms and patterns

In the hi-fi business measuring patterns and rhythms is essential to a high sound performance for  the customer.

All aspects of the product are rigorously tested and performance indicators based on a range of  critical measures are used as part of the marketing of the product.

In a completely different business – the wind trade – certain wines are made from grapes harvested  at a particular time of the year, or allowed to mature over a particular number of years.

The wine improves with age! Of course, throughout the agricultural sector, patterns and rhythms  of nature are critical to success. In the retail sector, seasonal rhythms and buying patterns dictate  design and production cycles.



Over the next full week, record the amount of mail you receive. Count each item and make a  total at the end of each day.

Then plot the results on a five-day graph, perhaps a simple bar chart. You now have a data set  for the process of receiving mail.

If you recorded this over a longer period of time, or compared it to that of colleagues, you  might begin to identify patterns or rhythms in this process. It may be that you are overloaded  on some days and some innovations might improve this situation.


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