Quality is Fractal


By The Most Worshipful Brother Geoff Edwards (OSM)



First published in The Square and Compasses

A newsletter for the Grand Lodge of South Africa




I firmly believe that “Every candidate is entitled to a Quality Experience”. In my view, if we could get this principle widely implemented amongst our Lodges it really could have a major impact on the future of our Grand Lodge. With this in mind, I recently found a short article exploring this philosophy and have modified it to match our Masonic needs. I hope that you find it of interest.


What does a napkin tell you about a restaurant? Quite a lot, surprisingly. Study after study shows a strong correlation between the quality of the napkin and customer satisfaction. That’s not to say you can hand out deliciously thick napkins in a second-rate burger joint and immediately get five stars on Michelin. Correlation is not causation. The napkin simply represents a degree of care, preparation and devotion that goes above and beyond asking if the customer wants chips or baked potatoes.


Nathan Bowers once wrote that “Quality is Fractal”. Quality offerings display self similarity. Any small part of it is indicative of its whole, meaning you can make a good judgement about an entire product by looking at a small piece of it – and this is as true of Lodges as it is of restaurants.


Well-known Chef Gordon Ramsay, in his autobiography “Humble Pie”, defends his obsessive perfectionist nature, arguing that he has to obsess. You don’t win Michelin stars without a relentless dedication to quality. “It doesn’t matter how amazing the steak is, if it’s served on a cold plate it’s rubbish. If it’s served with a dull knife it’s rubbish. If the gravy isn’t piping hot, it’s rubbish. Ifyou’re eating it on an uncomfortable chair, it’s rubbish. If it’s served by an ugly waiter who just came in from a cigarette break, it’s rubbish. If I really care about how much the customers are going to enjoy the steak, I have to care about every single thing which surrounds it.”


The parallels in Lodges are clear. If the Lodge is shoddy in its appearance, the furnishings aren’t properly prepared or they are unable to open or conduct a working in a well-prepared and efficient manner, you can make a reasonable judgement about the Brethren involved and their attitude to Freemasonry. If the Secretary doesn’t know what’s expected of him, you will judge his Worshipful Master, and by judging the Worshipful Master you can then judge the Past Masters and the Brethren that elected him and so on.


Each and every member of the Lodge is inter-linked. That’s the nature of fractals, they go all the way, and you can follow them in both directions. An insatiable desire for being a quality Lodge trickles down to everything from ensuring that the logo has a real impact to making sure that the agenda is correct, all the way down to making sure that every guest is individually welcomed outside the Temple and that every Brother attending the ceremony has a hymn book.


Excellence is not an act but a habit – and all the little details play a part. We judge humans this way so it shouldn’t be surprising that we judge Lodges on the same basis. Quality Lodges are exactly what they repeatedly do. If you care about having meaningful, high quality workings, you care about every single detail involved in the working - even the ones that in the opinion of the masses “simply don’t really matter”.


If you care about your charitable activities, you will care about the recipients. If you care about your Education program, you will care about the impression that it leaves with the students and the real impact it is having on your Brethren.


If we are to grow as a Grand Lodge, we don’t simply have to find new members, we also have to make very sure that the members that we do attract enjoy the very real benefits that our beautiful Order has to offer them. Our Freemasonry has to be a Quality experience and worrying about the little details really does make a major difference.

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