3D Business Research and Design Roots

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  • Permaculture is a design system that supports designing human systems modeled on the relationships found in natural systems. It has ethics and principles which can be used to establish, design, manage and improve all efforts made by individuals, households and communities towards a sustainable future.
  • The foundation came from work done by Franklin King on permanent agriculture in 1911. Joseph Smith applied this principle to trees and forests in 1929 - 1950's. An Australian farmer Sepp Holzer applied it in the 1960s, but the method was scientifically developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications.
  • "For example, the total calorific value of woodland is very high with its multitude of plants and animals. It is an efficient converter of sunlight into biomass. A wheat field, on the other hand, has much less total energy and often requires a large energy input in terms of fertilizer if the wheat and straw are harvested and removed from the field." (from wikipedia)
  • Ethics: Central to permaculture are the three ethics: care for the earth, care for people and fair share. They form the foundation for permaculture design and are also found in most traditional societies. Permaculture ethics are distilled from research into community ethics, learning from cultures that have existed in relative balance with their environment for much longer than more recent civilizations.
  • Design Principles: The 12 permaculture design principles are thinking tools, that when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviour in a world of less energy and resources. These principles are seen as universal, although the methods used to express them will vary greatly according to the place and situation. Holmgren's 12 design principles - these restatements of the principles of permaculture appear in Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability; Permaculture Principles at permacultureprinciples.com:\
  1. Observe and interact - By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy - By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield - Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback - We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services - Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste - By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

A page of Other Versions of the Permaculture Principles.

Natural Step Framework

...holds that in a sustainable society, nature will not be subject to:

  • What We Take from the Earth
    • Avoid "systematically increasing the concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth's crust."
    • Be careful ... you're disrupting a billion year process.
  • What We Make
    • Nature must not be subjected to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.
    • Substances we create must be biodegradable...don't spread toxins.
  • What We Do to the Earth
    • Protect and restore ecosystems and diversity
    • Protect and improve our soils, water and air...all creation (including us) need to eat, drink and breath.
  • Meeting Basic Human Needs (One Earth Patterns)
    • Use the least amount of stuff (means) to meet human needs
    • Ensure everyone has access to the means
  • Further Reading on Natural Step Framework

The Nature of Economies

... by Jane Jacobs...the natural sciences behind economies...the biology of economies

Nature of economies.jpg
  • All development is based on a new differentiated product/service being developed from a general product/services (think..a branch of a tree)
    • Humans start will all the cells the same but then start to create specialized cells (e.g. brain and bones).
    • The value of this differentiated product/service needs to be tested quickly and cheaply.
  • The new differentiated product/service then becomes a general product and the process repeats itself (new branches from the branch)
    • The brain cells then start to specialize in memory and language.
  • Co-development is the main process for creating new differentiated products/ services
    • Think of development not as a line, but a web of open ended lives...so build a co-development web to generate innovation. The web has a diverse group of people sharing and trading. These can lead to symbiosis relationships (add further material.)
    • Takes two minds/ideas/talents to create the new.
    • Co-working / co-locating is a great way to create the opportunity for this to happen
  • Expansion of Development
    • "Diverse ensembles (collection of organisms) expand in a rich environment, which is created by the diverse (and intense) use and reuse of received energy."
    • All developments depend on an infusion of energy from the outside (ultimately from the sun.) They also have a discharge of energy / matter...it can't be created or destroyed. So development can be thought of as a conduit through which energy is transformed.
    • In some ecosystem not much happens with the energy...such as a desert..the sunlight if gained during the day and released at light. But in other ecosystems, such as the rain forest ... the sun is captured and used and reused in a web of organisms. The sunlight is repeatedly "reconverted, combined and recombined, cycled and recycled as energy/matter is passed from one organism to another. The more different means a system possesses to recapture and transform
  • Self Refueling
    • Machines rely on outside agents. Machines lack the capacity to refuel themselves. Weather systems constantly draw on the sun's energy to drive their formations and movements.
    • Each organism has it's own specific "Self refueling equipment" often including critical symbiotic relationships. A cow eats grass and has specific bacteria in it's stomach. One organisms waste is another organism's dinner. The key is knowing what this is.
    • The exports of the organism must create energy/matter (energy/matter margin x volume) that exceeds the imported energy. This energy margin is used to create new import or export options/diversity. Then this grows.
  • Unpredictability
    • "A complex system is making itself up as it goes along. Weather is like that. Evolution is like that. And economies are like that." Beyond a point they are not predictable. Since this is true, we must be prepared for the unpredictability by having deep roots, diversity, preparation for seasons,...
    • Even if every single influence on a complex system can be modeled their futures would be unpredictable. It is an illusion that the economy is hierarchically controlled and the future can be predicted.
    • The Lorenz study showed that even if we can model all of the factors that goes into creating weather, we can't predict weather more than 7 days out. (see p.136-7)

Leadership and the New Science

... by M. Wheatley

  • In quantum physics it is the "relationships" that are primary...and in fact they are all that exists.
  • We change at the molecular level based on our relationships. They change who we are.
  • All that exists is a large flow.
  • Information is energy.

A Timeless Way of Building

... by Christopher Alexander

Timeless way of building.jpg
  • Nature grows by repeating patterns (i.e. a leaf)...this is the way all life is formed

Cradle to Cradle

... by William McDonough.

Cradle to cradle.jpg
  • Cradle to Cradle is William McDonough's landmark book calling for a closed loop, no waste design to all we do.
  • Design the same way nature works (biomimicry.) Like the natural systems, all of what we create needs to return to the natural systems in a way that makes them healthier ... or as a minimum does no harm.
  • Here's a Herman Miller products that are Cradle-to-Cradle certified (in a very simple sense, this means they are made from over 90% recycled material and are themselves over 90% recyclable.)

Triple Bottom Line
  • Triple Bottom line - calls for sustainable decision making that balances economics, environment and community (social) objectives to arrive at a long-term sustainable solution. Here's a discussion of it Triple-Bottom line.
  • It is intended to be applied to businesses...new and existing.
  • It can be very helpful, but limited by our relationship to the earth and our understanding of how the earth's systems work. It needs to be integrated with other concepts to reach the power that is possible in it's simplicity. It is surely a good place to begin.
  • Some of the best examples of applying it are:
    • Interface a leading carpet company - world recognized leader in sustainability...and carpet manufacturing!
    • Fetzer Wine company - I heard the owner of Fetzer Wines speak. He said the results of the sustainability initiative is better tasting wine at a lower cost. This is the direct opposite of what he was told would happen by traditional wine experts.

Enzio Manzini
  • Ezio Manzini
  • "For a sustainable future all design is systems (services) design."

Birth of the Chaordic Age

... by Dee Hock

Birth of chaordic age.jpg
  • self organizing systems can efficiently handle the real complexity
  • Innovation happens at the edge of a system
  • Distribute (not = to decentralize) power and resources...create a reason to support the center (commons)
  • Manage self...empower others


...by Celeste Watts

  • Right plant in the right place.
  • More life under the ground than above it.
  • Remove invasives.
  • Leaves are gold...use them to create great soil.
  • Lawns are a shallow root, single species design that takes a tremendous amount of energy to sustain bacause it denies the truths of the natural systems. This fight has created a whole industry.

Small is Beautiful

...E. F. Schumaker

Small is beautiful.jpg
  • Small is Beautiful - E.F. Schumaker - an economist's view of our relationship with the earth...how we've turned all the earth's resources that we, and the entire earth community require for survival, into commodities.
  • This is a landmark book asking the question Should BIG be the goal? Here's a summary version.
  • Think about a future of large numbers of diverse smalls versus small number of monolithic larges. The financial crisis of 2008-9 asked the question "Is too big to fail good?"

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