I’ve been taking some permaculture classes, here in Houston. Permaculture is, essentially, gardening and farming with a focus on working in alignment with nature, rather than against nature. And by nature, we mean the hard reality of how the natural world works, not just a fuzzy vision of a couple of deer in a sunlit glade. Nature exists, indifferent to our wishes. It’s a bit like physics or the economy.
The principles associated with great HR and Organizational Development are very similar to the principles associated with Permaculture.
The first principles of Permaculture have to do with what’s so, and how to most powerfully related to nature to get the most out of it, sustainably. Briefly, they are:
- PARTNERSHIP: “work with nature rather than against it”
- REVERSIBILITY: “the problem is the solution”
- EFFICIENCY “make the least change for the greatest possible effect”
- ABUNDANCE: “the yield of a natural system is theoretically unlimited”
- SYNERGY: “everything gardens,” ”everything has an effect on the environment
Twelve Permaculture design principles are articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:
- Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
- Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
- Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
- Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
- Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
- Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
- Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
- Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
- Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
- Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
Sound familiar? I’ll be talking more deeply about some specific examples of the parallels between permaculture and good HR in future posts.
In the meantime, do some observation of what’s so, in your environment. What are the immovable obstacles and untapped resources around you?
(source – http://permaculturesocietyph.org/media/posters/)