Thursday, January 2, 2020

Fractals In Your Practice, Oh My!

As I mentioned in the last post, I have been listening to the Audible version of the book "The New Work" by Aaron Dignon. I am really enjoying it and highly recommend it. At any rate, I continue to find inspiration and new perspectives with which to understand the Lean mindset. So, with that in mind…

Have you ever heard of 'fractals'? There are many applications of fractals, but I am most familiar with them as a kind of symmetrical art. The structure of much of nature is based on fractals. A very accurate measurement of the length of the craggy coastline of England was found using fractals. Animation software uses fractals to design mountains or forests, etc.

Wikipedia partially define fractals as:

Fractals exhibit similar patterns at increasingly small scales called self similarity, also known as expanding symmetry or unfolding symmetry; if this replication is exactly the same at every scale, as in the Menger sponge, it is called affine self-similar. Fractal geometry lies within the mathematical branch of topology.

Got that!?

Anyway, it might be easier to show you a sample of fractal art.

In this graphic, the branches and sub-branches are similar to the main tree trunk, but at decreasing scale. We could go on to draw successive smaller, similar branches on the sub-branches, theoretically ad infinitum.

Also, what is represented here as a complete tree very well could actually be a branch on a successively larger tree, ad infinitum. 

Any who...It reminded me of the process of strategy deployment (Hoshin Kanri) in our organizations. Recall that strategy deployment is the introduction, integration and alignment of our True North statement and focus areas down through the organization to the rest of the team.

Just like our fractal tree, each level of the practice should mirror the True North vision and focus area concepts, yet on a successively smaller, more discrete scope. In other words, the lead managers' level should reflect and further define the upper concepts as it affects them at their level and in their practice area. The lead reception's metrics would be similar in concept, but different in the data monitored than the lead surgery tech's metrics. Yet, both of them would be following and supporting Leadership's values.

The same is true for the frontline staff level as compared to the leadership level and manager level. They would monitor even more detailed metrics from their practice area's point view at their level. The frontline metrics support and give detail to the managers' metrics which, in turn, support and and give detail to the leadership level and the True North statement. 

Therefore, if we look at the entire practice, we can see that in each area, and at each level, the top most values are mirrored. Everyone is aligned and working towards the True North concepts from their perspective. Front line staff are monitoring those metrics that drive the manager metrics, and managers are monitoring those metrics that drive the Leadership (True North) metrics. The front line's "tree" is the same as the manager's "tree" which is the same as leadership's tree, but each appropriate for their particular level and function.Thus, Fractal Organization!

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think about all of this.

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