Organizational Permaculture

In a previous post, I explained how Kanban is a tool of Organizational Permaculture.

In another post, I told you about Cognitive Recycling, and how a very small adjustment to your meeting scheduling can have potentially huge leverage in terms of obtaining better results… by harnessing a readily available supply of human cognition.

Organizational Permaculture

Organizational Permaculture is a permaculture approach to elevating levels of team and group learning in organizations. It’s taking advantage of what is already there, and using it. It leverages the often ignored, underutilized, undervalued, abandoned, or otherwise unleveraged human cognition that is readily available to power a task at the group level.

Organizational Permaculture techniques are aligned with the philosophy and approaches of agricultural permaculture. Organizational Permaculture takes the philosophy of agricultural permaculture and applies this philosophy of design to organizations.

Non-invasive, Organizational Permaculture techniques include:

There are many more. I believe that over time, we are going to see more and more of the successful techniques used by organizational consultants recognized as permaculture techniques, successfully applied to organizations.


Please investigate and consider joining the Organizational Permaculture Facebook group. In this group on Facebook we are mixing people from the agricultural permaculture movement with folks from organizational development, agile coaching, culture hacking and others tribes who are interested in this concept.


Organizational Permaculture techniques align on the design principles of the wider permaculture movement:

Permaculture Principles

  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 behavior 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.

Source: Wikipedia Permaculture Design Principles


Are the best organizational interventions those that leverage and make use of  what is already there?

Can permaculture techniques be the key to achieving genuine enterprise agile?

Does an understanding of permaculture as applied to organizations help explain how Kanban actually works?

Is iteration and incrementality an essential design principle when dealing with all manner of culture, be it agricultural or organizational?


Related Links:

The Permaculture Institute

Permaculture principles, and ethics

More Blog Posts on Organizational Permaculture