Sunday, January 27, 2013

Down on the Farm, rather than on the Mountain top.

At my annual get together this weekend to consider the forthcoming year (at a Devon organic farm rather than on a Swiss mountain top), I went for a walk, yesterday afternoon, up to the top of one of Devon's beautifully, rounded small hills. It was like walking across the surface of a giant sponge, the ground was so saturated. I have never experienced anything like it. The patterns of our weather are changing and at every level thought and adaptation are necessary. Our hosts sheep, Gotlands, for example, can take the cold (being from Scandinavia) but not the dampness, ground wet to feet. Does our host hope for the best or cross-breed them or change them and what would answering each of those questions cost (and look like)?

While the ethereal mechanisms of global governance churn on after ever more belated remedial action on climate change, these real questions haunt each and every farmer, globally, and, lest we forget, on intelligently answering these questions, do all of our lives, literally, depend! Farmers truly are the most important people in the world which is a profoundly counter cultural message!

One of our number, down on the farm, is a distinguished student (and teacher) of complexity (as applied to organisations) and one of our conversations, over dinner last night, was on how real strategy is, in fact, done from here - from going step by step into particular actions, recognising oneself as one actor amongst many, and alert and vulnerable to what is present in the nature of things and relationships. Our addiction to 'planning' is increasingly hubris: no sooner have we planned than reality has moved and our plan is a redundant map.

It seems to me that it is increasingly important to help people find this difficult comfort with uncertainty and their ability to act from their attention, insight and values rather from their 'experience' or 'strategic vision' or 'ability to plan' - and to make resources available on the basis of our excellence in judgement rather than on what we propose to do.

That is another major culture shift but our very survival may depend on it.

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