Fractals


February 17th, 2016

GobiSanddunesHave you ever been to an event that is talking about being one thing while being something else?

For example, a conference about innovation that uses well-established, mainstream and predictable processes? Or more specifically, focusing on creativity, for example, while sitting in ferried rows listening to an ‘expert’ speaker using poor powerpoint slides? With questions, taken in threes, at the end? Where did that custom of taking questions in threes come from? But I digress.

It’s easy to think about being different, much harder to do. I can think about being fitter, it doesn’t make me fitter. I can think about being creative, it doesn’t make me creative. I’m not advocating not thinking. Heaven forbid, I spend more time in my head than many, I suspect. And inspiring speakers can sometimes inspire us to action. Sometimes.

I was at such an event recently. I started thinking (yes, indeed) how easy it is to slip into talking about being one thing while being something else – to talk about creativity, innovation and change while reinforcing existing norms. Which got me thinking about fractals.

Here’s an explanation of fractals, according to the Fractal Foundation,

“A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals. For instance: trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, hurricanes, etc.”

What if our organisations, our communities, our cities, our countries, are also fractal? What if what we do at the smallest scale is representative of what happens at a larger scale? What if we want to transform our company or our community, we start with transforming the way we even talk about that transformation?

What if we started acting our way into a new way of being instead of thinking our way into a new way of being?

 

2 Comments so far

  1. Stuart Reid on February 17, 2016 7:19 pm

    I saw a group game being facilitated recently. The facilitator commented: “The way you are in the game is the way you are in life. Are you focused on getting it right? Do you give up if you can’t see the point? Do you test the rules by breaking them?”.

    Very true. Fractal again. And one of the reasons why we play these games as facilitators. “But I wouldn’t do that in real life” participants sometimes say. “This was only a game”. I’m not so sure.

  2. Viv McWaters on February 17, 2016 7:58 pm

    I think games are a great way of revealing how we act, especially if we play games for long enough. As Viola Spolin has been quoted saying: “You can learn more about a person in an hour of playing games, than a year of conversation.”

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