Schlagwort-Archive: Self-optimization

The fractal – the archetype of agile teams

The digital transformation is actually the level of a networked, decentralized IT that used to be characterized by client-server architectures and that is nowadays on the way towards an open, fully globalized networked IT landscape. Industry 4.0 is accompanied by the next generation of digitization – more automation of production and business processes and, above all, artificial decision-making in all areas. However, application only works, if companies adapt to it. At the time of digitization 1.0, people talked about CIM, the fractal factory and Lean Management. Today, it is forgotten that the answers to some current questions were already described at that time – end-to-end processes, customer centricity, vital structures and, above all, the increased involvement of affected people. The fractal has already provided the aspects that are still crucial for an agile team.

The look at the fractal lives from forgetting earlier ideas of remits (see: The Fractal Company: A Revolution in Corporate Culture). The new units, the PODs, holons and platforms, behave like an enterprise within the enterprise and follow the same criteria on each level of detail.

  • Self-similarity
    The focus on a unit is made with a certain scaling. The self-similarity expresses the fact that the basic pattern remains the same on the different levels. For example, units, no matter whether divisions, departments or teams, process inputs into outputs based on described processes.
  • Self-organization
    The fractal itself takes care of its structure and the distribution of tasks. The processes depend on the working style of each employee and can vary from one unit to another. Decision paths follow natural conditions and not general guidelines. Influence from outside is taboo, if not forbidden.
  • Viability
    Each fractal must be viable in itself, i.e. it can produce the desired result, whether it is a product or a service. The Minimal Viable Products (MVP) are made possible by the complete coverage of related features. The purpose of the fractal is not growth, but survival – viability. This results in an over time changing purpose of a fractal due to new requirements.
  • Self-optimization
    The interaction with the environment, suppliers and customers, requires the continuous amelioration of the fractal. This further development is an important task of the agile team. Since the fractal is not reduced to a single purpose in the long run, the revision of existing processes creates the freedom to find and establish new activities.
  • Target consistency
    Decisive for the fractal organization is the consistency of the individual targets across the different levels. The ultimate goal is the fit overall fractal. Inconsistent targets would burden the overall amelioration. This means that a fractal cannot be simply detached from the overall context, but that, in addition to its own survival, it also takes into account the survival of the whole. Nonetheless, should a split-off occur, then it is a matter of creating a new whole – remember 3M, who have created a previously non-existent offer and a new business area – Post-It.

One should not be irritated by the angular structure of the fractals although today’s agile teams tend to be portrayed in a more rounded way. This does not alter the aforementioned characteristics. It’s about understanding the units that are nested within themselves.

Bottom line: While in the nineties of the last century the emphasis was on the use of new technical possibilities, today the need for action arises from the unimaginable acceleration of the business and the dissolution of geographical distances by the Internet. Standard processes are performed by computers at the speed of light. Everything else people have to do as timely as possible. This requires agile teams that are similar to each other, organize themselves, and are viable, continuously ameliorate and follow common goals. In addition, cross-sectional fractals are needed to provide standard services such as IT, accounting, human resources, etc. This allows the value-adding fractals to concentrate on their business. It makes work easier to remember and reuse the insights of the past, such as the idea of the fractal – the archetype of agile teams.

From oil vessel to speedboat

The bureaucratization in the areas of the enterprise leads to unnecessary, but nevertheless, rising overheads. Procedures become prevention machines due to bureaucratic refinements.

  • The purchasing department only takes care of large suppliers.
  • The controlling department concentrates mainly on the large expenses.
  • The IT department is only interested in large IT systems.
  • The strategy department puts the emphasis simply on core processes and functions.

Few, large savings are obtained this way. But the many, small reductions of effort that constitute a large block in total, fall through the cracks. We have to re-think the enterprise – from oil vessel to a speedboat.


The advantages of large tankers, the scale effects of a company, are exhausted. Now the motto should be: many pennies make a dollar. Many agile speedboats offer small potentials that supply large savings in total. For this purpose the following approaches can be used.

  • Deregulate small procedures
    The degrees of bureaucratization should be aligned to the size of the individual case. Large activities need, due to their large influences and dependencies, defined rules, in order to minimize the propagation of harmful effects. Simple defaults are sufficient for normal activities, since mistakes can be corrected quickly. Small procedures can be accomplished unregulated, since, on the one hand, the variety of the procedures can only be standardized with difficulties and, on the other hand, little damages occur when they fail. Thus, a lot of unnecessary, bureaucratic procedures that result from general standards are void. This releases work from excessive rules and creates time for the critical ones.
  • Prepare mass optimization
    Efforts for enhancements are most beneficial, if much can be achieved with simple activities. The small, regular operational sequences promise in total many advantages, due to their enormous number. These are mainly activities that take place at every workplace and occupy all employees in daily work. It includes the regular correspondence (e.g. the orders, the minutes, and the circular letters), repeating operations (e.g. the email administration, the travel preparation, and the meeting arrangement) as well as the small decisions (e.g. the task prioritization, the scheduling, and the control of quality). Mass optimization becomes possible by recognizing at an early stage the small time-sinks and by sharing solutions in the Intranet. The employee suggestion system offers a quick starting point, if the small, non-technical aspects of the daily work are also processed through this system.
  • Enable self-optimization
    It is best, if the individual employees are empowered to put the finishing touches to themselves. They need autonomous control of their tasks, authorities and responsibility. For this purpose, roles are specified for operational functions. The tasks of the functions are collected (e.g. compiling addresses, creating texts, sending letters), the necessary authorities, the power to do something, determined (e.g. access to all addresses, to send a letter to somebody), and the responsibility defined (e.g. to reach the correct target audience, error free). As soon as the employees have generally the authorization to improve their tasks autonomously, self-optimization becomes possible.
  • Reward small achievements
    The reward of small achievements promotes the rework in all places of the enterprise. On the one side, huge savings result from the large number of users and, on the other side, from their application in the long run. The reward of small, confirmed enhancements encourages the staff to take part. This should contain also long-term effects that are retrospectively identified and confirmed.

Bottom line: The time of the large effects based on large initiatives is reaching to an end. From now on, there will be many small enhancements that can be realized autonomously by all involved ones. Large savings arise from the mass of refinements and the sum of the many small savings. For large enterprises this means a new look at the own elements and interrelations – away from oil vessel to speedboat.