What are Dynamic Fractal Organizations?
Dynamic Fractal Organisations, aka Positive Structures or Fractal Circles, are a way of organizing groups that optimizes efficiency and that is easy and fast to work with. It is a system where everyone gets heard and are involved in the decision-making process. The system is designed to pick up the best ideas from everyone in a larger group. It bringing forth the most trusted people to assist and oversee the whole process of making the ideas become reality. With this type of structure, we will redefine the way to co-operate and create fast and efficient actions both in larger organizations as well as in spontaneous grass-root street activist groups.
Solving the problem with our current way of organizing
In today’s society, most decision making structures have fallen into corruption either due to personal interests within the structures or from outside pressure. This holds true with our democracy as large as well as individual parties, NGO’s, non-profit organizations and so forth. This is a problem that is inherent in our way of organizing, where the dominating people easily can take over control of the group. It is possible to use the positive structures to change this by organizing the members within each organization to be able to express the opinion of its members in a united way.
In this way, we can create a complimentary member structure to support the organizations in decision making and other tasks. For example, we can look at charity organizations that collect money for a cause. In many cases, we find that these organizations, even or especially the larger and well-known ones are many times taking the resources and using them for private interests. This can go on for a long time as the members have little information about the actions of that organization. The organization usually have a small centre core of influential people making decisions, so there is little that the members can do to understand or change the inner workings of the organization.
A fractal organization is especially good for organizations without a traditional top-down hierarchy, but it can also work in conjunction with a traditional hierarchy to increase engagement, participation and responsibility in all levels of the organization. If the members of the organization had the chance to join in a positive structure, that structure could take on the responsibility to oversee the flow of money, the decisions that the organization is taking and the result of their actions. The members could also discuss how they would like to see the collected money being used and present their ideas to the leaders of the organization. This would put positive pressure on the organization and create transparency. In many cases, this will be all that it takes for the organization to take its members seriously and start acting up.
If the organization does not want to comply with the positive structure the members might want to decide to move their support to another charity or to form their own charity to accomplish the tasks more efficient and without corruption. The process is very similar to what traditional labour unions were designed to do, but as the unions did not have a good way of organizing themselves, they fell into the same ruling structures at the time passed.
The positive structures are key to create change in today’s society. The positive structures are easy to create, fast to work with and efficient to act within. They can work side by side with traditional organizations and with time replace their decision-making strategies as the benefits of positive structures would prove to be great for both the members and the overall success of the organization.
What is the problem with our current way of organizing?
One common problem with decision making is to get everyone involved. This can be hard if the groups start to become bigger. As more people join the group the complexity increases and it takes longer and longer time for everyone to be able to speak. Naturally, the group creates a hierarchy to be able to cope with the new challenge and continue to be efficient. The natural leaders in the group stand up, raise their voice and take on the discussion, while most other people take a less active role and are in many cases left with choosing wish one of the self-assigned leaders to support. In today’s society, the people who see themselves as leaders often have many negative traits as being egocentric and dominating. This leads to a very poor organization and what I call a ruling structure.
Most people will accept poor leaders and continue to work inefficient and with little success. The reason why people accept this can be found in basic group psychology. To be accepted in a group has for a long time been the most important need of the individual. If you live in a small tribe you can not risk being expelled and left to your own, as that would be a great threat to your life. You would do everything to stay in the group. It would even be safer to stay in a group that you do not feel connected to than to leave it. These basic mechanisms are still active within us and this is how people can continue to support people in power even when that leader does not share the ideals of the larger group. Many people will instinctively support the leader that gives the impression of being the strongest and thereby the safest option without really evaluating what that person stands for or believe in. Many people will even unconscious start adapting their own beliefs to match the larger group to fit in even better. To speak your mind in the group, you need to challenge the leaders. You need to be willing and able to raise your own voice, and risk becoming the target of both the other leaders as well as their followers.
One way of avoiding a ruling structure to emerge is to have a flat decision-making process. This can be accomplished by making decisions in a circle where everyone can speak one at the time. The problem here is that it will take longer and longer time the more people you are. Many people will get tired and lose focus. Even if you have the choice to speak your mind, many will not feel comfortable to use the time of the circle, while others will not be able to respect the time and continue to talk even when left with nothing to say. Often this kind of meetings never get into a productive phase and are better suited for small groups.
How does the Dynamic Fractal Organization work?
Optimal group size
In positive structures, the most important is to limit the group size to remain small and safe. In a small group, everyone will feel more comfortable. Everyone will have the time to speak and it will be easier to listen to everyone. Over time, a sense of intimacy and trust will naturally rise. This creates a good working environment and great support for individual growth. You can use the group as a supporting structure where you can coach and help each other with your personal development.
Research shows that if you measure the efficiency of varying group sizes, the optimal group size appears to be five to seven people. In this size group there is a high level of combined knowledge and at the same time a low complexity. Adding additional members will not greatly improve the total amount of knowledge. However, additional members will significantly increase group management problems since the number of possible social interactions increases rapidly.
In a group of small size, a person who wants to control or manipulate the group can more easily be spotted and dealt with. In a larger group, a bully might gain public support while in a small group he will not be selected to lead important tasks.
Optimal way of connecting many groups
One major feature of fractals is their self-similarity, meaning smaller pieces of similar attributes within the larger whole. The individual parts are working together for the common outcome. They display interdependence, relying on each other while remaining at low complexity. Fractal systems are easy to scale up to any size. In nature, fractals are everywhere to be found. In flowers and trees and in living organisms like the nervous system or immune system. This type of fractal system can be applied to a community, economy or even a society.
To combine the efficiency of the small group with the power of a larger organization we need to join all groups together. The solution is a dynamic fractal organizational model. The positive structures are based on the benefits of the small group size and the scalability of a fractal design to connect the individual groups.
A positive structure is created by dividing the whole group of members into smaller groups of about six people each. Each group will discuss the issues at hand on their own and compile a short summary of the ideas sorted by importance. To cooperate in between groups a representative or trustee from each group are selected, based on voting within the group. Six representatives from six different groups will then create a new circle of six people, keeping the optimal group size but now connecting six groups with a total of about 36 members.
The process of discussing the issues will then continue in the new higher circle where the trustees will explain the ideas written down from its previous group meeting. Each trustee will also have the possibility to access to the individual team members of its previous group with follow up questions to clarify and deepen the propositions made. The process will continue in the same way as in the first group and once again the ideas will be compiled into a new summery and a new representative will be chosen. This will then continue in the same way until all members are connected.
The fractal nature of this will be fully scalable into very large sizes while still using the same process flow and intimate team size. To manage a group of 36 people will be almost the same as managing a group of 7.776 members. The only difference is that it requires three more sets of meetings to connect all the circles. The first layer will connect 6 members, the second 36 members, third 216 members and subsequently 1.296, 7.776, 46.656, 279.936, 1.679.616, 10.007.696 members and so on. An organization with up to 46.656 members can in this way be fully connected and sharing a common summary with only six layers. That means that no person will need to be part of more than six groups. If each meeting is lasting thirty minutes, where each member talks for about five minutes each, the whole structure of 46.656 members can be fully connected in only three hours.
Optimal way of deploying project
A traditional hierarchy is very effective to be able to make things happen fast due to there top to bottom chain of command. The positive structure has the same property. In a fractal organization, the structure with representatives on all levels is already in place. The tasks outlined in the final summary can then be broken down into six sub-parts and delegated down the layers. In every layer, the tasks can be further sub-divided into smaller parts until every bottom circle has a task. The trustee of each group will take on the responsibility of assuring that each task is delegated to one of its team members and performed within a time frame or assign it to another team member if necessary. In this way, all members and layers will have a clear task and a trustee that oversees and has responsibility for the progress.
Keeping your Sovereignty
The positive structures are based on personal sovereignty. To be sovereign is to be fully responsible and make independent decisions. Each member is sovereign and chooses if they want to take part in the structure and if they want to support the outcome of higher circles. Every circle also acts with sovereignty and if one circle does not want to collaborate with other circles on the same level they can break out their branch from the larger structure and act independently.
Safe from Corruption
The dynamic design also secures that the system can not be corrupted easily. For every new project or issue that is being discussed the positive structure will take a new shape. First of all the entire first level of circles can be created from scratch if needed. This can be very useful when the project is involving specialized skills like building. People with similar skills can group together and form efficient working groups. Even when the first level stays the same the trustees of each circle will be chosen after each meeting and a new structure will emerge. This is very helpful to assure that the power of the organization is not being centralized in a small center group of influential people. It will be created from the bottom and up and it will be recreated regularly.
As there is no fixed central structure that remains in power the only way to corrupt the system is either to always put pressure on every new central circle, or to control at least 60% of all the members. This will be impossible to hide from the members and will render impossible to accomplish.
Benefits of a Dynamic Fractal Design
• Small circles create support for personal growth and efficiency.
• It combines the freedom of a flat organization with the efficiency of a traditional hierarchy.
• The group size of six people is optimal for both making decisions and working together.
• The needed time to connect all members is optimized.
• The structure works well for any size organization while remaining simple to operate.
• Responsibilities and accountability are clearly defined.
• There is no central power that can be corrupted or controlled.
• Egocentric and controlling people have little influence.