A field of geometry developed in the 1970s by Benoit Mandelbrot, fractals are never-ending, infinitely complex patterns self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop, building complexity from simple steps. Fractals appear in the natural world, for example in coastlines, mountains, trees, and hurricanes, as well as in systems such as the stock market.
In the past forty-five years of study, we have found fractal applications in the fields of abstract math, civil engineering, computer hardware design, and medicine, to name a few. So what about possible applications in our own field of OD? Pravir Malik, founder of Deep Order Technologies and Fractal Savant at Stanford University, has applied fractal systems to Tuckman’s Model of Forming-Norming-Storming-Performing to analyse team maturity. According to Malik’s research, an aggregate of states experienced by members of a team can give a direct understanding of that team’s stage of development.