May 16, 2023

Fractals and the Power of Starting Small

We think a LOT about how to help you get better at meeting your mission.

So many fabulous people and organizations we work with start every day wanting to make the world a better place. Yet the best of us can still struggle.

Many organizations start with strategic planning to create a guide for achieving your mission. When this work is undertaken with an inclusive process, community involvement, and engaged staff, the result can be a living plan that doesn’t just sit in a drawer.

We agree that strategic planning is important work.

And yet, we often find that a more foundational piece is missing.

The reality is that the way we respond to everyday opportunities and challenges, the way we support our teams, and, yes, the way we LEAD an organization comes down to how we show up every day. This is what guides our small and large decisions. And if we don’t have common language and the ability to have tough conversations, it can be very difficult to plan effectively. This is where our plans can fall short.

A useful metaphor for thinking differently about our organization’s direction is fractals. Fractals are essentially non-ending patterns in which the small building blocks of shapes are repeated to add up to the whole. Think of a fern, in which the smallest elements look identical – the pattern is repeated so that the smallest parts look like miniature versions of the overall leaf frond.

Like a fern, the way we create the smallest constituent parts of our organizations is reflected and repeated in our largest work. For example, how we support our staff influences how we treat our clients. We can’t expect our organization to successfully meet our mission if we aren’t living our mission in how we lead. If we struggle to put our values into practice, we will struggle to meet our goals.

This is the conversation we need to have – “what are the building blocks we need to cultivate?” This is the MOST important work we should be doing as leaders. Only then can we have meaningful plans.

Meet your mission by becoming the organization you need to be.

To do this, we focus on three main areas of support:

1. Creating Space

This is the space you need to do the “right” work. We help you explore the most important questions you and your team need to answer.

    • We create space for you to have the conversations you need to have.

    • We develop language and practices that allow you to name the dilemmas you face.

    • We encourage you to find the right questions, even if you do not yet have the answers.

2. Building Trust

Do you trust team members? Yourself? So many of our teams are thrown together by virtue of their positions, and we do little to support them. A foundation of our work is building the support you need. Think of it as your leadership team safety net.

    • We work with you to develop standards for how you will work together.

    • Together, we put into practice ways to build (or re-build) and maintain trust.

    • We help normalize conversations about complex issues, critical questions, power, privilege, and identity.

3. Leading with Your Values

Creating and then leaning into your values gives you a guide for meeting your challenges daily. We do this in our own work (you can find our Values HERE) and it has been a critical component in transforming teams and organizations. Do you have values to truly guide you? If so, how do you put these into practice? 

    • We support the creation of values to serve as your guides.

    • Together we identify specific strategies to put values into practice.

    • We celebrate small and large victories and learning opportunities.

There is something so simple and beautiful about taking the time to do the right work. It’s really about creating the world we want, in everything we do, right now.


fractals, influence, mission, values

Create Space for Fierce Transformation

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