ThinkLets: A collaboration engineering pattern language

Gert Jan De Vreede, Gwendolyn L. Kolfschoten, Robert O. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Under the right circumstances, teams that use professional facilitators and Group Support Systems (GSS) experience significant gains in productivity and quality of work life. However, because of the expense, facilitators are not available to many teams that could benefit from their interventions. The emerging field of Collaboration Engineering aims to formulate an approach for designing high-value recurring collaboration processes that capture the best practices of master facilitators and packaging the processes in a fashion that can be transferred to practitioners to execute for themselves without the ongoing intervention of professional facilitators. Towards that end, Collaboration Engineering researchers have developed thinkLets, an Alexandrian design pattern language. A thinkLet is a named, packaged facilitation technique, captured as a pattern that collaboration engineers can incorporate into process designs. These patterns can be instantiated at design time in such a way that a practitioner can use them to recreate a predictable pattern of collaboration. This paper articulates the details of thinkLet design patterns and explains the utility that facilitators, collaboration engineers, researchers and practitioners are deriving from thinkLets in the field. It examines the parallels and differences among the goals and structures of the thinkLets pattern language, Alexander's architectural patterns and software design patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-154
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Applications in Technology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaboration engineering
  • Design pattern
  • Facilitation
  • Group support systems (GSS)
  • Pattern language
  • ThinkLet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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