A 'Policy Pattern' is a suggestion for a solution to a particular problem for a described set of circumstances. It is designed to be as helpful and reusable as possible, with short helpful descriptions of the thinking, the advantages, disadvantages and applicability of that solution. It links to related policy patterns: alternative approaches to the same problem, predecessor and antecedent patterns, as well as "anti-patterns" (solutions that might seem reasonable but which have critical shortcomings).
As it says in the book "A Pattern Language":
"...each pattern represents our current best guess as to what arrangement ... will work to solve the problem presented. ... does it occur and is it felt in the way we have described it? ... does the arrangement we propose in fact resolve the problem… the patterns are still hypotheses ... free to evolve under the impact of new experience" (APL)
This is NOT a prescription or polished recommendation but rather an idea as part of an evolving resource. The patterns here are tentative suggestions that might be useful to others. We hope that a wider community will write their own patterns, critiquing, refining and expanding this collection.
The term was coined by architect Christopher Alexander and popularized by his book “A Pattern Language” (APL) in 1977
“At the core […] is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets and communities. This idea […] comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people” (APL bookflap)
It has been especially influential in software engineering where design patterns have been used to document collective knowledge in the field, as well as to a lesser extent in eduction.
Although it has been talked about quite a few times, this is the first time that this has been applied to policy. As a result we have adapted templates from those used in other areas to be as comprehensible and useful as possible for this purpose.