“Fractals” from Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Marie Brown.


In first place, Brown gives her definition of fractals. Fractals are patterns that never have an end. They are similar in form and shape but they differ in scale and this pattern occurs by repetition.

She starts the chapter with her own anecdote of how fractals related with her life. She points out a phase in her life where she was disconnected with her community. She was burnt out executive director and tried things such as eating, drinking, having sex and working all the time to numb herself. Her family and coworkers noticed her shift and intervened. She then realised how she could not continue living life this way. The time that she is wasting will never be back. In a fractal manner, what she does day by day is a small scale but that is part of her whole life that is why she should live her every day life with purpose, in other words her whole life should be meaningful.

Further on, she talks about her vision on society. She states that her vision is changing and she likes changes. She believes that each of us has an important piece that makes the whole. In her utopia, people does not have one same value, she wants a world in which all people have different belief systems, are independently different and bring different things to society, this can lead to growth and innovation and evolution. She continues by highlighting that she wants a curious, interested, visionary and adaptive society.

As she talks about her utopia, she also suggest considering a dystopia.She suggest that that climate issues are not to imagine, they are happening right now. She questions environmental problems that are caused by the human behaviour such as climate change, Earth resources, having a watered Earth or having a frozen Earth. She questions how we should prepare for these problems and what we should do when they come, how would children be prepared and how would economy interfere with these problems.

Moreover, Brown suggests that we should move from competitive ideation to collective ideation. So, instead of trying to push our own ideas further and making it the best, creating an idea that come from and work for more people. In other words, being fractal. Thinking in a fractal way will make thing change from a small to a larger level and this can apply to any system e.g.  relationships, organisations. Likewise, she finishes this chapter with another anecdote of her working in a organisation called Ruckus to support her point of collective ideation.

Reflection on the text.

In my opinion, I think that all of her ideas are very thoughtful. She used her own real life experiences to explain the concept of fractals and how they intervene with her life. I realised that I relate with her experience.

Since I was a kid I used to be in the top 5% of my class for all the subjects. In middle school, I moved from a public school to a private school where every subject was taught in English, a foreign language to me. My mother hoped that I could learn English which would benefit my future but actually the outcome wasn’t as expected.  As I didn’t understand what was taught in class, I could not do my homework properly and this was followed by getting low grades. My family did not expect I could learn English straight away, however, the low grades impacted my self esteem so I closed all social media accounts and started to learn English every day, I had no social life whatsoever. After roughly one year my English did improve a lot but I realised that my ability to socialise was very poor. I was so concentrated in my own self studying that I could not understand the topics teenager of my age talked about. This is a point that Brown highlights, people should live their everyday life in a meaningful way, and when I look back at that time, I think that my life was not meaningful, I was disconnected with my community.

One thing that I disagree with is Brown’s view of utopia. I believe that people with different values living in a same society will develop conflict. I do not think that people with different ideals would create a bad society but I do not think this could be seen as a utopia. A utopian world is a world where everyone agrees with everyones ideas.

Lastly, I agree with her point that as well as considering a utopia, people should also consider having a dystopia. There are issues in the world that are caused by human behaviour and we have to care about these problems because thinking in fractals, everyone in the world is contributing to this larger problem in a smaller scale.

Visual interpretation of how fractals exist in my own life.

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