Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Might #problemsolving be our civilization’s root cause of the #collapse to come?

Problem solving, RCA (root cause analysis), continuous improvement, Lean management, all in order to study the problem, and find a fix for it… sounds the best way to progress, right? Hell, we even have ISO norms like ISO 9001 for it! Plan your actions, Do an experiment, Check the results, and Adjust upon deviations found. In itself, that PDCA or Shewart/Deming improvement circle doesn’t sound bad. Indeed, evolution thrives on it:

  • Plan is what’s your genetic material and your sociological background tells you to do (through language when it comes to humans)
  • Do is well, living
  • Check is when feedback is felt (more on this later)
  • Adjust is when learning occurs and living creatures adapt to the change

So, what’s wrong with it? Well, I think the wrong happens under the radar, but first in the Check step (indeed, PDCA starts at Check… I’ve read about that some years ago but can’t find the reference, sorry). It’s a systemic issue, and one that wouldn’t occur if we accepted to move to second order cybernetics / systems thinking.

In the 1st order cybernetics or systems thinking (or cybernetics), there’s an observer, and an observed, and no link, no influence (except for the decided) between them.

In 2nd order cybernetics, the observer considers the self to be part of the system and its perspective / world view / weltanschauung about it having an influence on the “observed”.

When you’re still in the 1st order of thinking, it’s all the most easy to fall in the trap of thinking the observed is “wrong” (with respect to what you would like it to be) and “fix” it by some intervention. Indeed, that brought civilization to where it is today with all our science and technology, arts, philosophy, etc. But it also brought with it environmental exhaustion, pollution and peak everything (eg. peak minerals)…

In 2nd order cybernetics, one recognizes that one’s own (preconceived) perspective on anything shapes the perception of that very thing it is observing. As a consequence, perceiving a problem in an observed might be more revealing on a “problem” in the mind of the observer than in reality. Indeed, Nature doesn’t have problems. Nature *is* and evolves on its own. It’s the perception of a problem and the desire to fix it that tampers with the natural cycles of nature and most often than not creates more unintended consequences (though at a later time), for which a new cycle of “problem solving” will need to be done.

So, the 1st order way of doing the Check is searching for an external (to self) source of the problem, consequently followed by an external search of a solution, or “fix” to that very (external) problem, at its perceived (external) root cause.

Indeed, in 2nd order cybernetics, one would ponder how is it that we are seeing a problem in the first place… and then stop doing what’s causing it. The Check thus turns its inspection toward self and becomes introspection. Consequently, the Adjust begins to see a different way of behaving, in such a way that it doesn’t trigger negative feedbacks.

Does it have something to do with deficit-based change versus strength-based change? Not necessarily. One can decide to seek the positive, what worked (like previous acts on the observed rather than on oneself) because it did have apparent beneficial effects, but without considering that it might have future unintended consequences.

Permaculture, for instance, is, IMHO, both a strength-based approach to change AND an intrinsic way of changing (do we need to design a new word for it? Does one already exist? Please tell me in the comments). Permaculture seeks to stop detrimental living practices (housing, agriculture, health, economy, etc.) and instead, change its practitioners’ behaviors to be more in line with what Nature does already, or to step by step (PDCA!) approach Nature’s way of doing things.

Réflexion sur les monnaies complémentaires et le lien avec la Nature

October 4th, 2017 Posted in P2P, Permaculture Tags: , , , , , ,
Je viens de lire un article intéressant (en anglais) sur l’initiative Hullcoins (Hull est une ville d’Angleterre).

En y réfléchissant, je m’interrogeai sur quoi faire d’une monnaie locale s’il n’y a pas de possibilité de passerelle vers les monnaies habituelles (euros, etc.). Or on sait qu’à un moment, les besoins de base (nourriture, logement, habillement…) sont aujourd’hui achetés par ces €uros. Donc, la seule possibilité d’en être indépendant me semble de produire sa propre nourriture (la Terre ne demande pas de paiement en retour, encore qu’au vu du dérèglement climatique en cours, on se dit qu’on devrait payer en retour, au moins avec du EarthCare) ou fabriquer ses propres objets… à partir de la Nature également – c’est à dire sans dépendre d’une personne qui attend un paiement en euros.

Finalement, ces monnaies, pour être totalement indépendantes, semble ne pouvoir fonctionner qu’adossées à quelque chose d’abondant (la Nature peut produire bien plus que ce qu’on lui donne (en permaculture, vous plantez une graine, vous en retirez plein de nourriture et des centaines, voire des milliers, d’autres graines)).

De plus et de manière assez intéressante, plus vous tripatouillez la Nature (avec force tracteurs, bêchages, etc.) plus vous dégradez cette abondance. De la même manière, si vous ne mettez pas en place des boucles de feedback, vous détruisez également l’abondance (compostage, toilettes sèches / retour des déchets à la Nature…)

Par ailleurs, un circuit court plus proche de l’auto-fabrication et du DIY permet de mieux cerner l’exploitation des ressources et de s’intéresser à leur renouvelabilité (donc d’éviter leur disparition).

C’est amusant car cela milite pour les petits communautés auto-suffisantes autant que possible, les grands Communs étant gérés par des regroupements de petits communautés afin de réduire les coûts. Ca rejoint donc les travaux de p.m. détaillés dans Bolo’bolo et Voisinages et communs. Ou les sujets d’intérêts de la P2P Foundation et les Communs.

Article on the 12 principles of #permaculture and how #sociocracy enhances them

It’s a nice read over there:

I’ve written on how to combine Sociocracy with Permaculture’s 7 levels, zones and design method (OBREDIM) here, although it’s in french only for now: GDP · GitBook (GDP is french for Dynamic Governance based on Permaculture).


#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: 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!

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