What is Fractal Storytelling Visual Language?

It is part of the ICEND Toolbox. ICEND = Interactive, Communicative, Experiential, Networking, Developing. ICEND is about how one kind of fractal transacts with another kind of fractal. Mostly the Vertical Fractals have the upper hand having the Material (M) dominate the Social (S). An alternative is to look at how M & S spiral in spaces and times (right column). We will explore this Fractal Diagnostic Tool here.

In the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Goffman, 1959), while not every places is a theatric stage for our performances, many are just that.

Boje, D. M., Luhman, J. T., & Cunliffe, A. L. (2003). A dialectic perspective on the organization theatre metaphor. American Communication Journal6(2), 1-16. CLICK HERE if you have Research Gate Account.

Extending the article to ICEND Fractality
Two competing views of organizational theater point out how behaviors form into [fractal] patterns. Some theater-of-organization folks follow Erving Goffman, and say theater-is-a-metaphor and therefore organizing-is-like-theatre. Those following Kenneth Burke says its-all-theatre and organizing-is-theater. Like all dualities, the focus on differences polarizes, and misses the connections.

For example, Goffman’s frame analysis is about recurring acts of framing, scripting behavior routines (like film script (of on going activity), staging, and performing. Late in his career. Burke also adds frame to his ‘5 element-pentad’ (act, actor, agency, purpose, scene). Burke puts the now six elements into ratios of : act, actor, agency, purpose, scene, and their frame. A frame is a kind of fractal. Another word for frame/fractal is the ‘pattern’ or ‘patterning going on’ in recurring behavior routines The point for us in True Storytelling, is that the Tamara-Land theatre, the ICEND, has fractal patterns. For the Burke crowd, it is assumed we all engage in performances of our roles in organizations. Consider how people stare into screens (computer terminals, TV, cell phones) much of the day, and how these same people, follow the app instructions, respond to app, and are quite addicted to screens. Enterprise software and hardware, dispatches programs, from a computer, that select which humans will enact particular programs of behavior. In short, humans are making few choices of behavior-task-programs, and computers (programmed by other folks) are making choices of which programs people will perform.

For Goffman, he never quite claims all life is theater, only that many times that we form temporary theatric performances.

Tamara-Land (Boje, 1995) falls in the middle of Goffman and Burke approaches to Dramaturgy. People are engaging in temporary dramatic spectacles of image management, appealing to customer’s presentation of self in an upscale spectacle. In this TSI Thinktank post, we will upgrade Tamara-Land in the digital material world of digital screens and programs, software and hardware.

What we do in True Storytelling is look not just at the spoken or written storytelling, but the ongoing visual language of ICEND: the performances of body language, art-scenography, and architecture-layouts. Why? Because the Material (software and hardware, the lay out of offices in places) are ways in which human behavior is increasingly shaped, programmed, directed, and controlled by software and hardware (technical term is apparatus).

We work in an ecology of routines (recurring fractal patterns), and these routines are increasingly controlled by computers, apps, and other technical apparatus (Sele & Grand, 2016).

Sele, K., & Grand, S. (2016). Unpacking the dynamics of ecologies of routines: Mediators and their generative effects in routine interactions. Organization Science27(3), 722-738. Click Here to See this Amazing Article.

You have to ask, just how many degrees of freedom you have in organization. Talk only gets you so for in changing the networking of organizing. Much of the networking is hard wired, we follow programs of the apparatus, in the digital age.

Some third ways of looking at dramaturgy of Organizing Theater:. Guy Debord’s Society of Spectacle and Mikhail Bakhtin’s various dialogisms (which we do focus on in True Storytelling’s Triple Loop). For example, Debord looks at all of capitalism and society and its politics as theater. He invites people to stroll along the city or urban streets, and see the aesthetic shifts in the scenes of daily life, noting when the architecture and ambiance change from place to place. He is looking for forgotten spaces where something different is happening than the usual pattern. Bakhtin, by contrast, extends the Socratic Dialogue you find in every organizing situation, with his polyphony, stylistics, and three other dialogisms that all interact together. In the examples below of visual fractal language, you can explore how polyphony (voices unspoken, just visual) and the stylistics of choices of art interact in what Presidents of USA do. Please consult this TRUE STORYTELLING Page for more on the Dialogisms of Polyphony and Stylistics, and 3 others, to see how they are the foundation of any moves to Triple Loop: What are the Dialogisms of Conversational Storytelling in ODC 2.0 Module?

In the Tamara-Land Networking Tool, diagnose how much behavior in the ecology of routines, is programmed by the digital, and how much is human networking (without Materiality dictating the Social).

Back to this focus on Fractal Language in the Theatre of Organizing and Networking We are more and more in a hard-wired, and software program controlled Tamara-Land. We therefore need Networking Tools. Organization theater performances have recurring [fractal] patterns of self-sameness across scalability, called fractals (a word invented by Mandelbrot). They are not just verbal or written communication happening in meetings. Rather, the materialities matter to controlling human routines that recur.

Look at how many people stare at computer and cellphone screens, following the instructions of the apps.

Socialmaterialities are implicated in fractals. And in Tamara-Land of the rooms we work in, storytelling is happening simultaneously. We have tools to understand the theatrics of multiple stages, happening at once, in most every organization. One is about networking. People are networking in the rooms of an organization, in the stairways between rooms, and in the digital ways of communicating within and among networks of organizations, local to global.

Every Organization has its moments of theater, and some are mostly theater. As we move from room to room in an organization we see the visual theater. There are multiplicity of theater room (formal, informal, off and on stage) simultaneous in a TAMARA of sites; with starring and supporting cast of characters who (1) affect the quality of products and services, (2) enhance or lower productivity, and (3) constitute the concentrated and diffuse spectacles of theatrical performances experienced by employees, investors, customers and vendors, and across transorganizational networks. 

The Social (S) and the Material (M) are entangled networking is happening in nature and in organizations networking with many other organizations.

After all no organization is an island. There is ongoing networking developing and changing in the everyday worklife.

Triple Loop Examples:

BALLE is Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (founded in 2001 on a mission): to support local business networks in support of an emergent new economy. By 2009, we supported a thriving network of 80 Local First business networks across North America, each helping to grow healthy, local economies (More).

Systems Self Organize to Higher levels of complexity (Emergence):  The founding story of today’s Andersonville network goes back to a women who opened a storefront that was home to a handful of small businesses sharing the same store.   You could see various generations of the work in the community and how in each phase more was possible.  For Example this storefront became an incubator for businesses, as they grew they expanded to their own spaces in Andersonville.  Over time there became an ecology of businesses” (More).

We Power

From Zuccotti Park to Main Street, people’s yearnings spark new possibilities for a shift from me to we. It is a shift in consciousness from one Fractal Pattern so an alternative Place-Based Fractal Pattern comes into Being.

“In one of our workshops, participants hit upon the idea of colonization as a way to describe how we became separated from the commons. Our culture is saturated in the market paradigm. The concepts of consumer, ownership, private, worth, and profit define how we think about ourselves, our relationship to each other and everything we encounter. It displaces all other ways of making connections and finding meaning.”

“Colonization denotes total economic, social, and cultural domination of one people by another. It instills a belief system—a paradigm—that legitimizes large-scale theft and repression, making them seem entirely natural.”

Equity and the Commons

Under what conditions will commons solutions advance racial, social, and economic equity? At True Storytelling it is a transformation of the local socioeconomics from Ego-Centric Fractality to We- and Eco-Centric Fractality of the Triple Loop. It is already happening:

“Envision what would happen if the commons paradigm became a fundamental framework for modern life, gradually outstripping the market paradigm. That’s not easy to do. It requires a leap from our usual thinking. It involves cracking open the constraints on our imaginations that prevent us from seeking a true transformation of society” (We Power).

It is all about Challenging the Dominant Fractal Narrative, with ‘New’ Fractals we at True Storytelling, call ‘We-Centric’ and ‘Eco-Centric’ of the Triple Loop.

The DEI 2.0 module begins with training in five dialogisms to do networking with ODC 2.0. This is basis of ICEND transformations to a place-based social-economy.

The S and M. In this Think Tank page, we explore how True Storytelling visual language system can be used to depict the flow, the waves, the holographic movement. Fractal Storytelling is a visual storytelling language of four hearts pointing to the nature of Being. It is in our logo, and sometimes we add a word:

We add the word BEING, to the Golden Spiral to focus our True Storytelling. We are BEING, and we have BEING-in-the-World that is increasingly networking digitally, not just in meetings. The Golden Spiral is a Fibonacci Spiral, a Nautilus Shell, is our way of talking about the relationships of social (S) and material (B) that are BEING-in-the-world of spaces and times, and mattering (SpaceTimeMattering is inseparable, you know). In each of Four Hearts, the S separates from Material, and Social dominates Material. All Four Hearts point to BEING. Here is a chart to begin to diagnose recurring fractal relations of Social (S) and Materiality (M) mattering in SpaceTIme. Social and Material, form different fractal combination patterns.

All Hearts Point To Being

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In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones,

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But if You Try Sometimes Well You Might Find, You Get What You Need

We humans seem to want more from BEING, than we actually need in the Commons.

State of the Commons

February 15, 2019 | By Jay Walljasper

Updated from the book All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons, published by The New Press.

“The commons is everything we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished, to future generations.” —On the Commons

There are many fractal patterns of Social (S) and Material in the SpaceTimeMattering flow of Being-in-the-World.

The BENEATH-Heart is where people seem to label everything in BEING. It leads to lots of your labels are not as good as my labels. This results in polarities of us versus them debates. It even plays out in the visual realm.

The visual storytelling is part of how the Theater of Presentation of Self (as Goffman called it), keeps recurring in performances of leaders. For example, President Biden (Michael Collins, USA TODAY Apr 9,2021):

Source Click Here

Every US president seems to use art work, or costuming to strike a pose. From the same article, CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE, there is a polyphonic dialogue, without any words, in the visual storytelling.

Polyphonic Dialogism, the voices interplaying in storytelling, does not have to be just oral or written, it can be all visual. The art of storytelling can be polyphonic dialogue of a president on the phone, with voices of family members in photos, and a painting of animated voices of founding fathers, in the painting on the wall. This is a good example of how Polyphony (Many voices conversing) and Stylistics (the furniture, paintings, the writing of a constitution,) are interacting on the stage of the White House.

President Obama kept a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lincoln in his meeting room. The art, the architecture, the seating arrangement is the interplay of Polyphony and Stylistics.

For more on Polyphony, Stylistics and three other dialogisms central to True Storytelling, please CLICK HERE.

You can learn how many spacetime combinations there are one’s office. President Obama, is from a different spacetime than the art, and that creates a dialogism of different spacetimes. You will also learn a fourth dialogism, that is about the discourse of ethics interanimating with cognitive and aesthetic discourses. You see, in the visual storytelling, these discourses are interanimating, visually in storytelling without any words at all.

All presidents use visual storytelling. For example, to look the part of the warrior, President G. W. Bush puts on a flight suit, and the staging includes a choreograph of supporting actors, in particular color coded costumes, saluting the conquering hero. This is visual storytelling, done without words.

Presidential Governance: Direct Presidential Action | American Government

A costuming change, then words are added to punctuate a message in the background about the Iraq War.

Mark Carney Mocks George Bush's Iraq War 'Mission Accomplished' Banner | HuffPost UK

The Beneath-Heart is our first symbol of fractal language. BENEATH-Heart points to Being. Beneath-Heart is about all the the labels people use to dualize, to distance and polarize, we are pointed to the BEING-Fractal.

BENEATH-Heart points to Being. The question, is can we change the Fractal Visual Language? Can a Lateral Fractal, enter the BENEATH-Heart? Check out BALLE-Detroit Food Labs, a visual mapping of the place-based fractal that is We-Centric and Eco-Centric, rich in small business and community diversity and equity.

BEING-Spiral of ongoing flow of SpaceTimeMattering-in-the-world. Consider this case, how a Lateral, Place-Based Fractal rooted in Detroit, after all the Big Boxstores moved out.

The BEFORE-Heart points to BEING from the historical, the retrospective sensemaking.

The BEFORE: Making Room for the untold stories of history, generation after generation

BEFORE-Heart of retrospective sensemaking points to BEING-fractal. So too does the BETS-Heart point to BEING-Spiral-Fractal. Stuck in the Past Fractal or Forgetting How we Cared for the Commons-in-the-past that is no more?

The BETS-Heart of prospective sensemaking points back to BEING-Spiral.

Can we move together into a We-Centric, and Eco-Centric Fractal Pattern that is living with that we need, not consuming all we want, so the 7th generation is sustainable?

8 Principles for Managing A Commmons

Based on her extensive work, Elinor Ostrom offered solutions for how to govern commons sustainably and equitably.

8 Principles for Managing a Commons

1. Define clear group boundaries.

2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.

3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.

4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.

5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.

6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.

7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.

8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.

In the Fractal Hearts Language, we can imagine combinations. Here the BEFORE and the BETS hearts are inter-animating two kinds of sensemakings that are processes of BECOMING, emerging in each, and also joining across. New Fractal Pattern emerges, and recurs by engaging in ICEND.

Here is a another visual image of fractal storytelling language to give a difference sense of the relation of Two Hearts, and the BECOMING in each.

The BEYOND-Heart points to the BEING-Spiral is all about We-Centric instead of I-Centric (ego), and the Eco-Centric (place-based social-economy formation). In the BEYOND, humans learn they are not the center of the university, nor are humans the only species on planet Earth. In the flow of moving through SpaceTimeMattering, the sociomaterializing has many fractal-like patterns. Not all of the are the re-con-figuring flow of SpaceTimeMattering. Some are quite different. The BEYOND-Heart includes Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK) in which rocks, rivers, mountains are Beings of aliveness, with their own living story, and part of the web of life of all living stories. Socrates, Confucius, and Buddha downplayed materialism, and asked ‘What is True’, ‘What is a Good Life,’ and how to be compassionate to all beings in existence. For Socrates, its was through dialogue, admitting one does not know, with humility, and a way of dialogue so people could get past their own ignorance to the knowing by reflecting-within. For Socrates it is an ancient Greek Way of Knowing (GWOK).

For Buddha it was meditation in deep self-reflection to get to be an enlightened Being with compassion for other Beings. For Confucius reflection came from doing daily ritual practices that made for peaceful society. We carry on the tradition of Socratic Dialogue for deep reflection at True Storytelling. We do this by journeying through all four hearts, then into the BETWEEN and back into the REFLECTION of BEYOND-Heart to find ‘What is True, What is Just, What is Good, and What is Beautiful?’.

BETWEEN the Hearts, is its own pattern. We call it staging, and do lots of visual storyboards to bring ‘new’ stories in some communicative fashion to audiences.

BETWEEN the Hearts. Material and Social processes of Networking Developing is something we facilitate using ICEND.

Some Terminology of TD:

  1. ICEND – Interactive Communicative Experiential Networking Developing. It uses NGT or the Talking Stick Circles approach.
  2. Transorganizational Development – a collective story is being shaped and co-constructed among the network of [organizational] participants. Each stakeholder [organization] is negotiating the meaning of the collective story. Each story is a fragment, a perspective on the whole. Some are problem based, issue based, solution based or just fantasy based. Each is a candidate to become the dominant collective story (Boje, 1979, 1981).
  3. Story – A telling of a past or anticipated event brought into the present through oral or written performance (Double Loop of Retrospective-Prospective sensemaking).
  4. Collective Story – A story of the past or anticipated future that is negotiated and co-constructed among a wider community of networking developing (Boje & Wolfe, 1989).
  5. Story Networking – It is the stories that construct and reconstruct the exchange relations of the transorganizational networking and organizing over time, across many places, unfolding in mattering ways (SpaceTimeMattering).
  6. Stakeholder – Person, tree, or organization who is affected by what the organization is doing or intending to do (“Have a stake in”) – Based upon Mason & Mitroff’s work, before stakeholders-of-the-mind took over (i.e. when instead of actually doing ICEND, experts or top management just thought about stakeholders, in their mind’s eye, without ever meeting one face-to-face, and doing active deep story-listening).

 ICEND – People interact and communicate in networks through stories. We therefore begin with a “Narrative Frames Diagnosis.” The first part of ICEND is Interactive Communication.  We look at the narrative styles of the stakeholders to the network. We assess the interplay of bureaucratic, quest, chaos and postmodern narrative frames

Three ICEND subsystems are formed. Subsystem One (outside process consultant) facilitates the formation of the second subsystem (internal problem solving networking cycle) so people can crystallize issues, identify leaders, form a temporary organization (of organizations) that will change the status quo response patterns of a TD1 [SINGLE LOOP] (Subsystem Three: Extended Network Involvement Cycle) to enact counter networking (DOUBLE LOOP of Open System adaptation to situation and environment in spacetimemattering). MORE.

Subsystem One: Outside Process Consultation Cycle

  • I. Diagnosis
  • II. Involvement
  • III. Active Intervention
  • IV. Support
  • V. Evaluation

Subsystem Two: Internal Problem Solving & Networking Cycle

  • I. Issue Crystallization (issues that bring form community)
  • II. Locate Stakeholders
  • III. Expanded Stakeholder Involvement
  • IV. Search Conferences & Focus Group Intervention
  • V. Convene Temporary Organization
  • VI. Withdrawal of Temporary Organization (before bureaucracy sets in)
  • VII. Assessment & Evaluation

Subsystem Three: Extended Network Involvement Cycle

  • I. Issue Perceived More Widely in the Extended Network
  • II. Initial Organizational Involvement beyond Temporary Organization
  • III. Discovery of Under-employed Resources
  • IV. Breakdown of Status Quo Response Patterns (Subsystem II Interventions in Extended Field)
  • V. Demand Builds for Greater Organizational Involvement
  • VI. Breakdown of Status Quo Responses.

The Newtonian paradigm treated Social (S) as Material (M). The Posthuman paradigm treats humans as one among millions (trillions in micro-biotic) species.

Our approach to flow, to the waves, and quantum storytelling. We are in between and part of the microcosm of embodiment and embodied into macrocosm, in the multifractality.

In sum, this is a visual language of storytelling to depict multifractal patterns that recur and scale in organizations. It is part of doing Fractal Change Management and its celebrating Tonya Henderson’s Fractal Action Research Model (FARM), a very ontological inquiry into the existential.


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