Skip to main content

Think like an ecology

‘Change’ and ‘Organisation’ has been seen, throughout the 20th Century, as a mechanistic process – engineered and steered, controlled and intervened into to fix it.  Change Management practices are often based on restructuring, alignment, elimination of redundancy and the imposition of social control methods that reduce diversity and fragment social fabric. 

While this yields some short term results and solves a symptom or two, each ‘cycle’ of intervention leaves a trail of depletion and loss of engagement, ensuring escalation of the intervention the next time.  This increases fragility ... and ethical problems and loss of confidence in our largest institutions stands testament to the unsustainability of the model.

In many ways, this recent history of most organisations is a direct parallel to the global world of food production and agro-industry.  Assumptions of machine-thinking, unlimited growth, depletion cycles (reinforcing further investment in recovery strategies), drive us to 'plough deeper', 'spray harder', and seek every more utopian solutions to a problem that is largely of our own making. 

Of course, just as the 20th Century agro-industry assumptions make for big business for the global seed, feed and fertiliser companies, the perpetuation of this high intervention, mechanistic model in corporate life is big business for the global change consultancies and advisers.  There are many who sell a constant stream of ‘new fertilisers’ to combat and boost low morale and disengagement, ’new bug/weed killers’ to kill off unwanted practices or strategies before they get a grip, and 'deeper restructurings' to up-end the 'corporate soil' to try to plant a new culture.

'Ecology' is defined as being “concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments”.  Thinking of organisations as 'ecologies', themselves embedded in larger ecologies is rapidly gaining ground.  Natural ecologies are adaptive, responsive, alive and self-sustaining ... which does not mean that everything within them is always in a good state.  It is the natural interplay within ecologies that make them 'anti-fragile' and evolutionary over time. 

Companies requiring greater speed, agility, innovation, accountability and low-cost, low-intervention change are increasingly swapping out their old 'machine' lens approaches, and investing in 'thinking like an ecology'.

Our immersive and experiential workshop draws on a range of brilliant perspectives, ideas and principles:

  • Application of the principles of Permaculture - for example:
    • Alignment (uni-culture) versus diversity and poly-culture
    • Efficiency versus requisite redundancy and buffers for resilience and innovation
    • Restructuring and ‘starting again’ versus accelerated maturation and succession
    • Agentic individualism and fragmentation versus interconnected relational working
    • Mistakes and recovery versus improvisation and innovation everywhere
    • Waste and linear processes versus circular integration and economy
  • Bio-mimicry and Guilds as inspiration for innovation and collaboration
  • Circular economy
  • Maturation and development of resilience as an emergent pattern of checks and balances
  • Cycles of abundance, restoration and recovery
  • Anti-fragile organising (as opposed to 'strong' or 'weak' - Taleb)
  • Strategy as ‘accelerating nature’ rather than ‘overcoming nature’ - applied to the world of organisation culture and leadership


devon coast

Come and spend 4 glorious days in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK - Devon.  This residential workshop takes place partly in the workshop room, and partly exploring lessons from the natural world on Dartmoor and Devon's wonderful coast.  

We want to organise this with and for a rich and diverse group, on dates that work.  Let us know you are interested, and once we have a group, we will make the final arrangements. 

"I'm interested - tell me more - I know it doesn't commit me to anything."

The workshop aims to develop:

  • understanding of the nature and implications of interventions that nourish or deplete the vitality, resilience and social fabric of organisation
  • appreciation of the principles of ecological thinking and how to apply them to the world of organisation and change
  • practical ideas for how to lead yourself and others in your organisation for more energy, natural innovation and engagement.