LO & The New Sciences LO5632

Michael McMaster (Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk)
Wed, 14 Feb 1996 17:36:21 +0000

Replying to LO5577 --

Uri develops the ideas of self-similarity that I've been working with
quite nicely. I prefer not to use "fractals" in my management work
(ie. in my language) when working with organisation design and

It has some value in analysis - say of markets - I do not find that
it adds anything that I require for organisational work. And, IMHO),
it does detract. I avoid using the language of physics and
mathematics for the reason that it encourages a remote, "scientific"
or engineering observer approach. I'm attempting to introduce living
systems language, analogies and metaphors to replace the mechanistic
ones of our past and therefor want to keep the language consistent
with that.

I do appreciate the depth which Uri has introduced and the skill of
presenting a lot of material in a relatively short space.

I would make the point that self-similarity implies redundancy and
also supports creative/productive redundancy but redundancy does not
necessarily imply self-similarity. Also that the quote "fractal
dimension of a manager" is not a quote from me.

In my design approach, I do not suggest that *the same degree* of
qualities (leadership, decision making, strategic thinking) be
exhibited at each level for self-similarity to occur. This may be a
distinguishing feature of self-similarity compared to fractals but I
don't know enough about fractals to say for sure. I think in
biological systems, self-similarity does not imply "to the same
degree" but more "of the same kind".

When I use the principle for organisational design, I maintain that
different forms, levels, degrees and expressions of the
characteristic or "job" in question be distributed but that all must
have some of the same characteristic.

This approach is also consistent with design (say Christopher
Alexander and art, architecture, urban planning, etc) where we are
talking about patterns that repeat but do not duplicate. I recognise
that Uri does say fractals are similar not identical but I'm not sure
how that fits with "same degree" used later. Perhaps Uri will say

Uri says, "The fractal dimension expresses the relationship between
order and chaos in organisational functioning.

Michael McMaster

Michael McMaster <Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>