Fractal Leadership

Fractal Basics
Fractal Geometry refers to the repeating patterns in nature. The concept is simple, yet so vast and far reaching. Some Scientists say that life itself is built upon Fractal Geometry. Others say it is the “Fingerprint of God”. You will find fractals or repeating patterns in all aspects of our universe. Fractal Geometry is found in everything from behavioral patterns to plants to sound waves. Life as we know it is built upon this structure and life has flourished for billions of years. The concept of fractal geometry permeates our very existence.

Perhaps one of the simplest explanations is to look at a tree. The main trunk supports branches, the big branches split off to smaller branches, those split again into smaller branches and this pattern repeats all the way to the leaves.

In human and animal reproduction, cells duplicate themselves splitting from a single cell to two cells, then to four, then to eight and so on and so forth.

Landscape structure can be seen in patterns of geometric shapes. Mountains are repeating triangles of varying sizes. Clouds in the sky also can be seen in Fractal Geometry. A small section of cloud appears the same as a large section of cloud.

Although Fractal Geometry has always been around since the creation of our universe, it was “discovered” by Benoit Mandelbrot, a Jewish scientist living in France. He later became an employee of IBM in the 60’s and discovered the repeating patterns in nature could be assigned to a mathematical equation. With this mathematical equation, he assigned digital colors to the integers and when computerized, the colorful repeating patterns came to life. The amazing thing is that the mathematical equation, colors and patterns are infinite. You can zoom in on the pattern forever and even though the pattern is constantly transforming, the same recognizable patterns emerge over and over. This pattern was named “The Mandelbrot Set”.

Scientist took the mathematical equation and applied it to many things. One of the advances they made was in visual technology. They designed software, which helped them take a large leap forward in the aeronautics industry. The Imaging software they designed was now able to depict infinite patterns in nature which helped in visual simulation software designed for pilots in training.

In the law enforcement industry, they applied Fractal Geometry to their video surveillance technology to achieve much clearer images and video by applying the repeating patterns of the same image on top of the original image.

Fractals in Business Structure
If you look back in history, you will find fractal patterns. Military ranking systems, Monarchy/ Kingdom structures, the Egyptian pyramids, Family trees, ancient story telling passed down from generation to generation and even the structure of a song.

Based on the Fractal Geometry model, businesses structured in this fashion will also be self supporting and nurture growth. It is how people were designed to think, live, work and thrive. Like the human body, a business organization is similar in that it takes many parts to work together in order to thrive.

A lot of times when business systems fail, it’s because the leadership structure is flawed. Most commonly when there is one boss and many employees. This type of structure is inefficient because one person cannot manage such a large number of people effectively. Many employees leave based on the performance of their boss when the boss looses touch with them. When the relationship connection is lost, the vision and motivation soon follow.

With the fractal leadership system, there is a natural correction that takes place. Because the skills are multiplied and passed down, the employee can become the manager of the next tier easily and seamlessly. There is a natural restructuring that takes place. New managers are put into place, employees are re-assigned and the organization embraces change which makes the business more efficient. Healthy organisms in life are constantly growing and changing. The same should be true for organizations.

When building a business structure based on Fractal Geometry, there are a few key points to remember.
1. Structure must be scalable.
2. All members of the organization must be onboard with the Company’s vision/ DNA.
3. Members must work within their chain of command.
4. Skills must be shared and multiplied with next tier.
5. 2-4 members per tier are optimal.

When an organization restructures to utilize Fractal leadership, things tend to naturally fall into place. Below is a sample of a fractal leadership structure. This is a 1:4 model

One thing to remember when making organizational changes or restructuring: Keep the main fractal structure in place. If you are using the structure 1:4, stay with that structure. Do not “squish” a bunch of people under a manager who already has a full 4 tier under him or her. This will overwhelm the manager and cause deterioration in the structure. Organized changes that adhere to the structure cause growth while chaos creates decay.

Everyone is a leader
Using the fractal leadership structure, everyone is or will be a leader of someone. For instance, the warehouse manager manages the different sections of warehouse. There will be a Dry warehouse manager, Chill, Frozen and Will Call. Under each section, that manager will have a fractal under them, such as the receivers, loaders, pickers and replenishers. If you look at one branch, like the Receivers, they will create their fractal in the same pattern, with 4 employees under their care and so forth all the way down to the starting positions.

In order to cultivate growth, a relationship needs to be established with each fractal. Brief weekly meetings with your fractal are important to keep morale and motivation up. These weekly meetings should be focused on the employee’s personal needs, not so much the job. Talking about how they are doing, their family, hobbies etc., lets them know that the company cares about them, not just what they were hired to do.

Progressive companies allow these meetings to take place outside of the office. Coffee shops, restaurants, and cafes are perfect places for fractal meetings.

Larger company wide meetings are important for vision casting and company context. Having these full staff meetings will instill fresh vision in all of the fractals. Communication from the top tier is important for coordination of the organization as a whole. The “DNA” of the company should flow through all tiers.

When looking for employees to add to your organization, do not hire those who can do it well, hire those who can facilitate others to do it well. The organization should build a company comprised of leaders. Leadership skills should be on the list of skills for each hire. You may be thinking, “How will work get done if everyone’s a leader and no one is a follower?” A good leader leads by example and gets into the trenches and encourages others to do so as well. A good leader also has a teachable heart and mind and will be open to instruction from authority.

This brings us to Character of potential hires. Training can be used to refine employees but good character should be the foundation of every hire. How do we find good character and leadership skills?

A good employee will receive the company’s vision and buy into it. They are enthusiastic and proud of the company they work for. Hiring managers need to be good judges of character. Many new hires are coming from companies who have failed to meet their needs. They are leaving their other jobs for a reason. New hires have a mindset that may be guarded, like a bad break up. These employees will need morale built up so that they can build a confidence that will in turn generate company pride. If the new hire has a sense of appreciation by the manager, it will make him or her start to build a sense of ownership in his or her job.

Another trait to look for is a utility player. If you hire utility players with skills in different areas, it gives you more options during growth periods or if you need to shuffle people around when someone retires or resigns. An employee may need to wear multiple hats for a season until a suitable replacement can be found to help. An organization should be flexible and adaptable.

If one member in the organization is struggling or hurting, the organization as a whole is also struggling or hurting. Think of when you stub your toe. Your whole body reacts with pain. Your toe is not an isolated member. During an injury, other members of the body reach out and help the one in distress. When this happens in business, other people in the organization should be dispatched to help that struggling person or department out until it is resolved. It may be an “All hands on deck” situation. Once the problem is resolved, members go back to their normal responsibilities.

One of the biggest problems with new hires is retention. The new hires try it out for a couple of weeks and decide they don’t want to work there anymore. If there are multiple instances of this, it is the manager’s job to find out why and try to rectify the problem. Is it faulty expectations? Bad management? Ill relationships between co-workers? Maybe the manager has to explain the job description better, perhaps with a video. To minimize high turnover, look for those with similar experience, do an interview tour with potentials so they can see what they are getting in to. Building success is a journey that is based on fixing flaws in your system. Below is a chart of some formulas for successful recruitment.

When adapting your company’s structure to the Fractal leadership structure, make sure to do it in phases. Do it slowly and work towards the proper fractal model. Making restructuring changes slowly will give everyone time to adapt.

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