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22 November 2016 5 min read

A Fractal View of Lean

Some contend that lean is at a tipping point in its life cycle. Will it wither away as just another business improvement fad, or will it thrive, survive and grow and bring its full potential to bear on business, the public sector and society?

This article argues that taking a fractal view of lean will help it take the latter path, enabling it to continue to evolve and help people and organisations improve and prosper. It first defines fractal and how it relates to lean thinking. It then highlights the potential advantages of this perspective and looks at examples of applying lean at difference scales and variations from individual working behaviours to team ways of working to organisational operating models.

It concludes with the practical implications for lean initiatives from taking a fractal perspective.

What is a Fractual View of Lean?

The Fractual Foundation defines fractal as:

"a never ending pattern that repeats itself at different scales. This property is called self-similarity. Although fractals are very complex they are made by repeating a simple process."
Fractual-Foundation, 2015

It is contended that lean has its own fractal, since the foundational lean concept of maximising value by minimising waste applies at every scale of work, from how individuals handle daily work and activites, through to team ways of working, value stream optimisation and organisational operating models.


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