I explained to you in a previous post how Kanban supports 12 of the 16 Tribal (team) Learning Patterns  found in The Culture Game Book . That post also contains a link to an interesting post that connects Kanban to the Agile Manifesto’s 12 Principles.
Culture Hacking, Permaculture and Kanban
This post identifies an agricultural technique (actually an agricultural-sustainability hack) called permaculture.
Permaculture principles and practices associate with culture hacking in general, and Kanban (in particular.)
A full set of links for all footnotes are provided at the end of this post.
Kanban is a method for managing work and work flow. It is visual, and exposes certain things that are going on within a group doing work, and makes those things explicit. In the canonical form of Kanban, it imposes at least SOME structure by also making policies explicit, limiting work-in-progress, and so on. (If you need a primer on Kanban you can reference link  to catch up).
Organizationally, it’s hard to object to Kanban, in part because it does not ask very much of you– at least at first. There are few if any anxiety-triggering changes in current roles, goals, meetings, and artifacts. This makes it easy for everyone to relax, and opt-in to the Kanban game, because Kanban, at least at first, does not seem to demand very much of you. Kanban is something that is easy to insert into the situation. And that ‘something’ is a refocusing of attention on things that matter to work groups, things like “the type of work we are doing”, “the flow of that work”, “the regulation of those flows”, and the like.
Now I want you to notice that when you introduce Kanban, you are actually engaging in the introduction and composition of new elements with existing elements in ways that are complimentary. Repeat: With Kanban, you are engaging in the introduction and composition of new elements with existing elements in ways that are complimentary.
Which brings us to the fascinating topic of permaculture.
Permaculture is a form of agriculture. It is a discipline of design and composition that leads to the sustainable extraction of value from the resulting system. Rather than make wide-scope changes, permaculture practitioners compose complimentary elements in service to sustainability of yield:
Permaculture asks the question, “Where does this element go? How can it be placed for the maximum benefit of the system?” To answer this question, the central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design. The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor, and energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between design elements to achieve a high level of synergy. Permaculture designs evolve over time by taking into account these relationships and elements and can become extremely complex systems that produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input. (Source: Wikipedia  )
It’s drop-dead obvious that Kanban is an application of permaculture applied to low-producing social-systems instead of low-producing tracts of land.
Intrigued? Check out these 12 Principles of Permaculture…as you examine the list, map the permaculture concepts listed to what is going on inside Kanban implementations as described in the book KANBAN by David Anderson :
- 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.
Source: Wikipedia Permaculture Design Principles 
Is understanding the language of permaculture a key to understanding and implementing effective culture change in organizations? Probably!
What’s interesting is how the language of agricultural permaculture supports the best incremental-culture-change ideas found in my book THE CULTURE GAME book  and the KANBAN book from David Anderson .
Kanban…is permaculture…applied to knowledge workers. — Alexis Nicolas (France)
The Organizational Permaculture Approach
So if you want to change organizations, three basic principles:
- You don’t lecture management on how they are old fashioned in their thinking, instead you put them into situations and give them tools where old ways of thinking are not sustainable and they have to act differently. If they work it out for themselves its sustainable.
- You pick off areas where the pain threshold is the highest, for example (to pick up Agile themes) the interaction between approaches such as Agile and the measurement and management practices of the HR function.
- You then create approaches that change the measurement and feedback mechanisms that work in parallel with existing methods.
Implications of Organizational Permaculture
- Client organizations, coaches and other culture hackers can probably benefit tremendously by studying and applying the core concept of permaculture to the design of interventions. Kanban is an element for designing and composing permaculture learning solutions inside existing organizations.
- The most effective culture hacks are probably those that strongly align with the 12 Principles of Permaculture. This likely explains (in part) the success of Kanban  and the 16 Culture Game Tribal Learning patterns 
- We probably need to pay particularly close attention to Kanban case studies, since Kanban is actually a particularly good example of how to introduce and apply permaculture techniques and permaculture thinking to culture change in organizations.
- We probably need to search for and find more easy-to-introduce permaculture technologies like Kanban and repeat the pattern. Techniques that can co-exist with what is already there and substantially improve team learning quickly are what we are looking for.
Kanban implementations are significantly aligned with the 12 core principles of agricultural permaculture. Culture change via the incremental permaculture approach is an interesting idea whose time has come. Most effective culture hacks probably have very strong alignment with the 12 Principles of Permaculture.
 Kanban and Tribal Learning (link)
 The Culture Game Book (link)
 Kanban Explained (Wikipedia entry) (link)
 Permaculture (Wikipedia entry) (link)
 KANBAN: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Business (link)
 Wikipedia: Permaculture Design Principles (link)
 David Snowden Blog Post with 3 Big Ideas: “Rose Tinting” (link)