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Fibonacci Pi

Organizational Structures

February 10, 2022

A Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. This sequence occurs frequently and unexpectedly in mathematics and practice. While Pi is a mathematical constant, eminently useful, but does not ever fall into a repeating sequence; it never becomes predictable or has an “end.”

There has been a considerable amount of attention given to Pi over the centuries, with an almost obsessive fascination with the calculation of its terminal digit. There is even a feature film of the same name where the protagonist goes insane in the pursuit of order and sense where there only exists a single — irrational — number.

Finding the Right Strategy for Your Organization

Developing an organizational strategy can fall into similar patterns. At times, things seem to fall into sequence and other times they seem random. The key is to apply the right mentality to the right set of circumstances.

If you are working within an organization where there is a set of repeating circumstances or variables that seem to form a pattern, then the solution or remedies, even the construction of a strategy can conform to the rhythms of the organization’s movements. While you can’t predict everything, your strategy can allow itself to adapt productively with additive interference with the infrastructure in place.

If the organization does not follow any patterns — if the unpredictable is the normal — then the strategy needs to be structured in that way. That’s not to say it lacks order; it should simply be ordered, prioritized and measured using shorter-term or less protracted in nature.

The caution is due to the wrong application to the wrong set of circumstances. If you attempt to apply a strategy solution that responds to randomization to an organization that follows a pattern, it can seem atonal, unstructured and will likely fail. If the opposite happens, you will find that the individuals who are used to random (or seemingly random) circumstances will actively work toward randomness and rebel against the structure attempting to be imposed on them.

Organizational entropy, or the move toward disorder from order in businesses and practices, can directly result from the application of the wrong solution to the wrong structure described above.

Now, you will likely never find an organization that functions solely in one state or the other, but the solution should, in a complementary way, work within the confines of organizational culture.

The madness resulting from the pursuit of the last digit of Pi in the movie can mirror the frustration that you or the organization might experience through this misapplication in approach. Careful study of the human dynamics, internal operations, culture, hierarchical structures and approaches to leadership and management can afford you the opportunity to determine the best approach to determining the type of structure needed for the circumstances.

This study and learned understanding will allow you to find patterns where there are patterns to be found — the Fibonacci-type organization — or will free you from the desire or pursuit of trying to calculate something that cannot be calculated — the Pi-type organization. When forming a strategy, you should never try and calculate the last digit of Pi; but you should be able to determine if acceptance that you can’t is a strategy unto itself.

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Joe Benesh

Joe Benesh is the President and CEO of The Ingenuity Company, located in Des Moines. The Ingenuity Company specializes in Strategic Planning, Diagramming, Organizational Design Thinking, and Leadership/Change Facilitation. He also teaches strategic planning at the University of Iowa in the MBA Program.