Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Do Elinor Olström’s principles to manage #Commons apply to Social Systems as well?

While reading this article here: I wondered if, just like I (and others) did with Permaculture principles, her 8 core principles could be used in social systems as well (if we consider that, today, mental energy in organizations might be considered as a commons and is in danger of disappearing because of “overgrazzing”):

  1. Clearly defined boundaries;
  2. Proportional equivalence between benefits and costs;
  3. Collective choice arrangements;
  4. Monitoring;
  5. Graduated sanctions;
  6. Fast and fair conflict resolution;
  7. Local autonomy;
  8. Appropriate relations with other tiers of rule-making authority (polycentric governance)

Well, it doesn’t seem as clear cut as with permaculture. We could make the following parallels (sorry for the  crude images in what follows. Union representatives, please stay away from this unsafe zone 😉

  • workers’ mental energy is the field
  • managers are the villagers
  • work is the cows who graze in the field

There’s a first difference in that managers are both members of the group of cows and the field being grazed.

I can see how it could work to manage that (I mean, in an artificial, rigid, way with committees to monitor metrics, assemblies of managers studying the work and the health of the workforce), but nothing plausible seems to emerge.

And yet, with governance approaches (eg Sociocracy 3.0 or Holacracy or Reinvented Organizations), the problem seems to be addressed. But the distinction between cows and field has vanished (something not possible in the example of Olstrom of course). Which might have all to do with the difference between real, physical world (Olstrom) and virtual, services, mental world.

Reblog: 10 Ways to Accelerate the Peer-to-Peer and Commons Economy (via @Shareable)

Excellent blog post by Michel Bauwens co-founder of the P2P Foundation.

Every day, a P2P society makes itself more desirable.

Capitalism might be seen as the evil here, but, if we take a perspective of ecological successions, we can see it like a (somehow) deliberate burning of a place: everything disappears in the end, but this releases fertilizers in the ashes for something new to grow.

Do it too often and you spoil the soil.

Do it properly, and you can intervene on the pioneer plants to build something better and more sustainable.

If we see capitalism as a burning of what could have been precious resources, then we might as well consider what could grow on the ashes of the leftovers. We are already seeing these pioneering sprouts in P2P, collaboration, sharing economy. Of course some of the pioneers are just seeds of the previous world (Uber, AirBnb, etc.), but they’re just preparing the soil for the next round of more robust plants/initiatives that will truly change the landscape.

I’m eager to garden in the future!

#Permaculture and #P2P Culture: hand in hand?

While I was reading that excellent french introduction to P2P on the P2P Foundation website (it’s old but very interesting nonetheless), I remembered my own thinking around permaculture and efficiency or management.

And so it occurred to me that both permaculture and P2P interactions could work hand in hand. Indeed, as I think people need to be trained or at least showed how P2P interactions are easy, the 12 permaculture principles could well be a list of patterns or a roadmap to foster that Peer Production or at least the development of more recurrent and fruitful P2P interactions.

Indeed, we could even just start with the 3 ethics of Permaculture:

  1. Earth Care: in the context of P2P, it would be the results of peer production, that is, the Commons. Respect what’s been done previously: it had a reason to exist, and we can only build on top of it. And even if we don’t, it framed people’s current mental models, and so we must bear with the consequences and take these into consideration for our own creation.
  2. People Care: self explanatory; to better interact with people we have to be as respectful to their ideas as we are keen to promoting ours. In Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline”, it is explained as Bohm’s Dialog: “balance advocacy and inquiry” and “suspend your beliefs” (both in the sense of 1) refraining from letting your judgement be altered by your preconceptions and 2) exposing your beliefs for others to consider and take into consideration).
  3. Fair Share: whatever you co-create, use it and share the rest for others to re-use and build upon. That’s how civilizations are created.

That was the easy part, and you can probably only go with these 3. The 12 permaculture principles below are an elaboration of the 3 ethics. More practical principles if you need something more concrete to apply.

IMHO the reason these 12 agricultural principles seem to work so well is because they are precisely just this: principles applying to a system (nature and agriculture as they are). And because systems thinking is transdisciplinary, they can be quite easily transposed into different realms (like I did in management or efficiency – besides, what I propose below is just a generalization of my thinking on efficiency and better social teleogical interactions [social interactions toward a goal] which we’ve packages into the Labso with my peer Alexis Nicolas).

Also, should you need to explain to starting Holacracy or Sociocracy communities how employees should behave with one another for the cultural change to flourish, it might be a good recipe: more emotionally and metaphorically loaded than a bloated constitution (Holacracy) or 4 rough naked principles (Sociocracy).

Here’s my list of the 12 permaculture principles adapted toward fostering flourishing P2P interactions:

  1. OBSERVE & INTERACT – “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The best way to accustom yourself to someone else or to a pre-existing group is to observe and interact without trying to actively interfere with the group. Feel the rhythm and get used to the beat before entering the dance floor.
  2. CATCH & STORE ENERGY – “Make hay while the sun shines.” Don’t spoil your energy, nor that of others. P2P interactions should make the best use of energy and better yet, capture the environmental energy (that out of the Commons as I said above with the 3 ethics) in order to reuse it later. That energy may be in the form of peers wanting to contribute, meaning which can be leveraged to fuel a new project, ideas in the air waiting to coalesce into something bigger and thicker…
  3. OBTAIN A YIELD – “You can’t work on an empty stomach.” Whatever you want to collaborate on, it needs to produce something, because 1) you need to be able to (at least partly) live on it and 2) that very production is what will motivate your peers to continue. Idealized vision are a must to start, but they evaporate quickly with time unless concrete results can sustain the momentum.
  4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK – “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation.” P2P is not lonely work. For the collaboration to work, the group must accept internal 1:1 exchanges between its members so they can coordinate among themselves and people self-correct when they feel their interactions aren’t inducing the best results for the other peers as individuals and for the group as a whole. But for that internal balance to exist, people must provide and accept (respectful) feedback.
  5. USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES – “Let nature take its course.” Avoid producing one-off artefacts. Build Commons that can be reused by others. Make them flexible, easy to dismount and remount differently, easy to compose with others’ own artefacts.
  6. PRODUCE NO WASTE – “Waste not, want not. A stitch in time saves nine.” Waste is that which doesn’t bring value to others. When you create waste, you loose support from others and you work against your own group of peers, because it will go against the energy they’re trying to invest. It will clog your interactions, grind the creative process and eat all your (individual and collective) energy for nothing. Don’t do that.
  7. DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS – “Can’t see the wood for the trees.” Lay down the general principles, which are more intellectual and high level but also more flexible and around which you can more easily exchange, interact and adapt. It’s easier to mold an idea than to rebuild a physical gizmo. Yet balance that with #3: obtain a yield. The global idea is best tackled with the whole group when the details can be addressed in smaller subgroups or even by individuals acting for the benefit of the whole.
  8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – “Many hands make light work.” To avoid centrifugal forces, seek to weave links rather than erect barriers. Search for what’s similar and what’s similar inside the differences instead of focusing on the sole differences. Constantly reweave the group together with similarities and connections between ideas and people. Don’t let differences and dissimilarities tear you apart from one another. It’s a natural step for the mind to spot differences (I’ve started to write about that in my book) so you need to pay special attention against it.
  9. USE SMALL & SLOW SOLUTIONS – “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Although we’re a lot wanting to change the world, it all starts with small steps. They also are the best way to coordinate with one another and let people enough time to chew on new ideas and adapt to them. Slowly build a robust small foundation rather than a hasty big fragile one that will crumble under pressure later on.
  10. USE & VALUE DIVERSITY – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The best group is composed of diverse people with various perspectives. It ensures resilience, innovation, constant (individual) energy access, etc. Uniformity, just like in Nature, is prone to diseases and thus failure.
  11. USE EDGES & VALUE THE MARGINAL – “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it is a well-beaten path.” What’s on the border is what’s more likely to be different. It mixes the internal (who the group is) with the external (what the environment needs, calls for, provides…) Edgers are better armed to provide that diversity (see previous point) to the group and allow it to evolve as best as possible along with its environment (provided the group accepts feedback, see #4). Make as many people edgers as you can. Interview them, find what makes them different because of hidden edges they have (untapped potential, skills, talents), then make these edges explicit and weave those with what’s the group is doing. Yes, that would mean a sort of community manager for the real physical world. Or peer-ify that and ensure people regularly do that to one another.
  12. CREATIVELY USE & RESPOND TO CHANGE – “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.” And that’s the corollary of all that preceded: learn to recognize the need for change when you meet it, whether it comes from the outside environment, from the edges or from deeper inside. Be purposeful and stick to your values, but don’t rigidify so as to break when it would have been better to pivot and change gears.

Synthèse des définitions de la #permaculture

Je ne peux ne pas citer ce site que je viens de découvrir avec cette excellente vision systémique (!) de la permaculture comme approche de changement de la société. Lisez toute la page ci-dessous !

Synthèse des définitions de la permaculture | Permaculture sans frontières – Reforestation sans frontières

Cultiver des hommes… #Lean #Permaculture #Agroécologie

M’intéressant actuellement à la permaculture (cf. ce post de janvier), je viens de réaliser un certain nombre de parallèles :

  • Le Lean dit (en japonais): “mono zukuri wa hito zukuri” soit “fabriquer des choses, c’est fabriquer des hommes”. Donc il faut fabriquer des hommes avant de pouvoir fabriquer des choses, et le Lean est un business model qui vise à développer les hommes par la résolution de problèmes
  • L’agroécologie (l’un des aspects de la permaculture), c’est faire de l’agriculture qui régénère les sols plutôt que les épuiser
  • le 8e gaspillage du Lean est souvent cité comme étant la créativité inexploitée des collaborateurs.

Je trouve le parallèle saisissant si l’on considère que les pratiques managériales actuelles tendent à désengager et déresponsabiliser les collaborateurs, ce qui les amènent à ne plus contributer d’idées et d’innovation à l’amélioration de leurs entreprises. Comme si les pratiques managériales (agricoles) avaient épuisé les sols (collaborateurs), et qu’il faille pallier avec force consultants, méthodes, et autre command & control.

Re-apprenons à travailler avec la diversité (des idées), réinvestissons une partie des gains de l’entreprise vers les collaborateurs (compostage sur place !), travaillons avec les bordures (valoriser le différent, les frontières de l’entreprise), recherchons les interactions entre plantes (collaborateurs d’expertises différentes) et nous aurons un terreau (une culture organisationnelle) à nouveau propice au développement d’idées !

Arrêtons de planter des graines qui donnent des plantes stériles [hybrides F1] (idées extérieure, gestion du changement command & control), mais valorisons les graines anciennes (idées des collaborateurs, adaptées au terrain/terreau de l’entreprise) qui poussent sans intrants chimiques (méthodes importées de l’extérieur et tuant toute créativité en interne) !

Faisons de l’agroécologie ou de la permaculture d’entreprise !


#Permaculture and Organizational #Efficiency (#strength-based #Lean also)

Having the chance to own a house with a small garden, I recently got interested in Permaculture. Indeed, I’ve been interested in Christopher Alexander‘s pattern language already (and I blogged about his 15 principles of wholeness before).

Reading this great introduction about permaculture this morning got me thinking about how this would connect with business and organizational improvement. And, the fact is that it seems to work like a charm!

Here are the 12 principles of permaculture viewed from the perspective of organizational improvement and efficiency (with a twisted view from strength-based Lean…)

  1. OBSERVE & INTERACT – “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This indeed is the first step of improvement: go to the real place (gemba, genchi gembutsu) and look at the process! Improvement is not done in an office remote from where the work or the process is done.
  2. CATCH & STORE ENERGY – “Make hay while the sun shines.” When thinking of “Lean and Green”, this would obviously make sense of course. But I like the human aspect as well where you need to feel, catch and use the energy of people: what motivates them to do what they do? What’s the purpose of the organization that drives it to deliver its services? What fuels people to work? Before you try to change the processes, you must take great care in not destroying that energy. One could also see in this point the sometimes added 8th waste of “unused employee creativity”: this too is a kind of energy which should fuel an organization.
  3. OBTAIN A YIELD – “You can’t work on an empty stomach.” Or “Produce”. The goal of an organization is to service its customers, right? So you need to ship as soon as possible. And the better the quality has to be, though we’ll come back later to this one.
  4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK – “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation.” When you produce, you need to look at what you ship, and self-correct in case of a problem. This pertains to the final client, but of course to internal clients as well, between teams or silos (if your organization is so structured). So, regulation with the previous and later steps in the process (TAKT time, anyone?) and client feedback… I also like the saying about the seventh generation: don’t look just at the next step, for your job might have consequences far beyond further down the process (or in the Client’s life).
  5. USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES – “Let nature take its course.” Again, I’m not so much interested in material resources (although they’re important of course), but in the human resources: don’t exhaust them but do care for them. Don’t use too much of it that none would be left to let it renew itself. Don’t burn them out.
  6. PRODUCE NO WASTE – “Waste not, want not. A stitch in time saves nine.” Told you it fits nicely with the efficiency improvement stuff! The link with Lean Waste (Muda) is obvious here. And before reducing waste, there is not producing it in the first place.
  7. DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS – “Can’t see the wood for the trees.” I read this one as not focusing on the details at the expense of forgetting the principles. The risk here is to improve locally at the expense of global efficiency (the one pertaining to performance from the client’s perspective, and the organization as a whole). So, it might mean to follow the patterns of efficiency (implement them) and then tune the details (adapt them to the local processes and activities).
  8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – “Many hands make light work.” Back to the silos: you’d better reinforce interactions between the parts rather than growing them apart from one another. This goes also with #4 when accepting feedback from other parts of the organization.
  9. USE SMALL & SLOW SOLUTIONS – “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Small PDCA improvements. Enough said.
  10. USE & VALUE DIVERSITY – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If standardisation of parts and processes is key to efficiency, it should not from the perspective of people: valuing and leveraging diversity increases the chances of finding the best solutions. Diversity of minds in a team, and reaching beyond the limits of that team, through feedback (#4 again) from them is, again, key to improvements.
  11. USE EDGES & VALUE THE MARGINAL – “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it is a well-beaten path.” Here again, we take care of the frontiers of teams and processes and look at interactions to improve. Divergent ideas are valued as a way to further improve. Incidentally, the more your standardized, the more you’ll be able to see divergent ideas. Don’t fright on them as something to be banned, but seek what they might tell you about how to further improve.
  12. CREATIVELY USE & RESPOND TO CHANGE – “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.” And the last one: whether your processes look perfect or are still under change, keep an opened eye for forthcoming change and invite, accept it. Change is the only constant thing in the world (Heraclitus).
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