Consider this Earth as a 3,8 billion-year old R&D lab; for all this time, over 20 millions species have evolved in co-existence, spinning through their interactions, and interconnections, a web of Life that in return creates the “conditions conducive for more life” (Janine Benyus), in an ever growing yet self-regulating fertile and virtuous cycle.


In contrast, in our social reality, we often produce social fields that are neither life-giving, fertile, nor creating the conditions for more life. Indeed, we often create and enact social systems (companies, public services, political parties, international committees…) where it is enormously difficult to work together in ways that nurtures both collective interest and personal fulfilment; where what is produced, but more importantly perhaps, how it is produced, is usually at a cost for the ecosystems on which we depend, the communities in which we live, and even our own emotional and spiritual selves.


Therefore, it seems to me that one key lever for radically transforming the world in which we live, is to tackle the very way in which we produce this world. To not just attempt to produce different industries, markets, health or education systems, etc, but to transform the very ways in which we think them up, bring them to life and enact them collectively through the various interactions that individuals have with one another.


So here’s a couple of questions that animate me as I reflect on the resilient ecosystems that have evolved through trial and error: what can we learn from Nature’s ecosystems (the way they emerge and then self-regulate) that we could then apply to the production and self-regulation of our organisations? How can we design and enact social systems which would be both rooted in living principles, and contribute to creating conditions for more life?


One way of addressing these questions, which I would like to use over the next few posts on this series, is to explore what Permaculture can teach us about designing and growing low-maintenance, high-yield food producing ecosystems, and see how these teachings can be applied to designing and enacting fertile, non-toxic social fields.


Permaculture was brought to life by Bill Molison and David Holmgren, who spent years studying ecosystems in the Australian Bush, and derived from their observations key principles about how the animal, vegetal, mineral, aquatic and gaseous worlds interact with one another in life-giving virtuous cycles. From that they started applying their learning for setting up, with huge success, new types of farming, agroforestry, and land reclaiming initiatives. Permaculture by now has been used throughout the world for decades, with relentlessly good results (more info on ).


A while ago, David Holmgren summed up the essence of Permaculture design in 12 principles:

  1. Observe & interact
  2. Catch & store energy
  3. Obtain a yield
  4. Apply self-regulation & accept feedback
  5. Use & value renewable resources & services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small & slow solutions
  10. Use & value diversity
  11. Use edges & value the marginal
  12. Creatively use & respond to change


Treading new grounds, I propose to explore, over the next twelve posts on this blog, how these principles can be applied in designing and enacting new types of organisations: companies, health or education systems, political parties, NGOs, and, more broadly, ecosystems of organisations.


For the next twelve posts, each post will explore one of those principles, and its application to social fields. And you, dear readers, are warmly invited to join me in that reflection through posting comments on this blog and interacting with one another!