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#Permaculture as a form of #governance: initial ideas

I’ve been circling (!) into governance ideas (Holacracy, Sociocracy and Sociocracy 3.0) and Permaculture, recently. My takes on these are:

  • Holacracy is well structured but quite complicated to implement
  • Sociocracy is way simpler but leaves initial practitioner with a blank page syndrom making them needing to reinvent most of their work
  • Sociocracy 3.0 is modulable but complex to start with

And then I pondered recently on permaculture and management, and then onto governance and sociocracy, and discovered that you could use permaculture for governance (with bits of consent and circles inside, and double-linking and elections without candidates being nice additions). I still haven’t had the time to detail my ideas, but it mostly goes like this:

  • planning could use the OBREDIM (observation, borders, resources, evaluation, design, implementation, maintenance) permaculture design approach to structure issues
  • the circles (and sub-circles) are thought along the line of permaculture zoning like below. This also goes for analyzing issues and ensuring they’re properly contributing to the organizational ecosystem they belong to:

    • 0 = you,
    • 1 = the circle
    • 2 = the community/organization
    • 3 = the wider environment/ecosystem/bioregion where the organization resides
    • 4 = the nation
    • 5 = the world/Earth
  • governance could benefit from the seven levels, with the following correspondance :
    1. canopy: strategy definition
    2. low trees: roadmaps, tactics, policies
    3. shrubs: operational stuff: projects and actions
    4. herbaceous: nutrients: what are the recurring resources that will feed the circle?
    5. rhizosphere (roots): digestion: how can learning be reinjected into the organizational culture?
    6. soil surface (ground cover): protection: how can we maintain and preserve our culture (all the while nourishing it)?
    7. vertical layer (vines): interconnections with other levels and circles
  • and synchronization meetings (triage in Holacracy) or action planning benefit from the 12 principles to ensure the actions contribute the most effectively to the organization (do you create no waste? do you tap into renewable energy from people (ie in their strengths, not aside from then, etc. See my other posts on that)

That’s mostly it! When decisions need to be taken, you resort to consent after having clarified the issue using OBREDIM at all relevant levels (plants don’t achieve consensus, their behaviors mostly resemble consent to me). Elections are without candidates (plants don’t propose themselves, they each interact and structural coupling make some stand up given the local conditions). Circles are double-linked because it increases the communication channel variety through which complexity can express itself (the complexity is at most that of the communication channel). And of course a circle is the local ecosystem around a specific topic.

That way of organizing stuff also embeds elements from Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model. But I’ll let that proof as an exercise for the reader 😉

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

While reading this article here: http://evonomics.com/tragedy-of-the-commons-elinor-ostrom/ 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.

I disagree: self-organization is NOT hard (reply to @bud_caddell)

This is a reply to Bud Caddell‘s article here.

First, I’d like to say that I agree with most of the content of the article, especially the stuff on Holacracy being complicated stuff. I come from Lean management coaching, and I can say that Lean is complex too. Indeed, we see similar problems: some companies succeed in implementing it, some don’t. Most don’t by the way. Read more »

Reblog: Book Review: Beyond Majority Rule #sociocracy

Very good review of a book about Quakers decision-making. Even the review goes to great lengths at describing the requirements of participants to successfully achieve decision-making.

This stuff is at the origin of Sociocracy, Holacracy and then Sociocracy 3.0.

Here’s the review.

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