Change 3.0 thanks to Fractals

Why do changes in organisations go wrong so often? How come that, despite thorough plans, a good implementation programme and lots of attention for communicating the urgency, people still don’t make the change?

During our Change Mindset Tribe event in February 2023, Wendy Nieuwland - Hill & Maaike Nooitgedagt from the organisation 'Gewoon aan de Slag' - translated it would resonate with the 'Just do it' quote from Nike ;-) - came up with a well formulated and triggering answer.

Their philosophy, Change 3.0, utilises knowledge of how behaviour within and between organisations changes in a natural way, and how these changes can be influenced from within the organisation itself to achieve sustainable, lasting change.

To give us a taste of what Change 3.0 is, they have put together the seven essential principles of change:

  1. Orientation on a good outcome when changing cultural aspects in the organisation
  2. Ownership: who’s doing what?
  3. Working with what is: what do we have on the table?
  4. Explore perceptions: from everyone involved
  5. Connecting these perceptions
  6. Congruence: what need to be changed + how to change it = a good fit
  7. Patience, perseverance and belief: “it is possible to change!”

All fine, but how does this work? Is there a way for a positive and long lasting change in your organisational culture?

Yes, there is! With fractal analysis.

A fractal analysis is an accessible and meaningful way to quickly gain insight into your organisational culture. Not in big words, but in practical examples from your daily practice. Examples that, in all their smallness, provide glimpses into larger patterns.

But let's take one step back: Fractals?!

Fractals are miniature expressions of larger patterns.

They have the same structure and characteristics as the whole. You can compare it to a stalk of broccoli. A floret has the same structure as the whole stalk. And if you look at another piece of it, it has the same structure.

Mathematically speaking a fractal represents an infinite pattern that repeats itself continuously. Very small and simple, or large and complex. For example, small letters in the hallway or at the coffee machine ('throw away dirty tea bags'), the way meetings are conducted over and over again, a casual remark about a colleague, personal items, jokes or language can all be fractals of larger patterns. Expressions that are completely normal for you and that you may not even notice. And yet, they can say a lot about your organisation.

Fractals in organisations are expressions of behaviour that show a cultural pattern in miniature form. These patterns together in turn form your organisational culture. And that culture, in turn, is very decisive for the behaviour in the organisation, as you often notice when changes just don't get off the ground.

Three ways to work with fractals:

  1. Uncover and name organisational patterns
  2. Help grow what’s already there by spotting ‘fractals of the new’
  3. Facilitate change by starting small (but meaningful!)

So if you want to change the culture of an organisation, you will need to do something about certain behaviours. And if we can track those small fractals, we can already start with change from the inside out without the need of huge investments in time, money and effort.

Example of analysing fractals?

During the Change Mindset Tribe event participants came up with a lot of challenges when it comes to change behaviour inside their organisation.

Too much and too often ‘working in silos’ was one of these challenges.

This could be noticed (behavioural pattern) in not sharing information with other departments and this pattern was shown in small things, fractals, especially during meetings (meetings only in their own silo - information only used to knock down ideas from other silos - …). Once you have a clear idea about these fractals, you can start small with bringing some changes to these behaviours and patterns.


If you change the behaviour by tackling one fractal, you change the pattern. And if you change an important pattern, you affect the culture.'


Want to read more about fractals, small actions and Change 3.0?

  • Check out - you can download a white-paper and a lot more interesting information on their website.
  • Book: Atomic Habits, James Clear
  • Book: Mini Habits, Stephen Guise

Want to participate in a next Change Mindset Tribe event - exclusive for professionals active in facilitating change projects? Check it out .