Cracking institutions

 About all I can say to this is “Well duhhh.” The few of us left that are not indoctrinated in global collectivism have always known that rugged individualism is fundamental to everything. It is what settled the West and built America. The global commune will be a brutish-hellish place. — jtl

by MATTHEW CAWOOD   via The Land

Allan Savory speaking at the recent Day After Tomorrow forum at Orange, NSW.

Allan Savory speaking at the recent Day After Tomorrow forum at Orange, NSW.

            THOUSANDS of pastoralists across the world have adopted Allan Savory’s ideas and found them good, “but I don’t even need one hand to count the number of organisations that have accepted this knowledge,” Mr Savory said in Australia this week.

After a moment’s reflection, the founder of Holistic Management added, “I don’t even need one finger, I think”.

Mr Savory has spent decades pondering why he has the support of individuals, but not organisations. Then he came across systems theory – the study of systems – and found a body of research that explained his experience.

“Organisations are almost watertight against new knowledge,” he told the recent Day After Tomorrow forum at Orange, NSW, where he was keynote speaker.

“We all could be part of an organisation and every one of us could individually absorb new knowledge – but collectively, as an institution, it would take years before institutionally there is change.”

The sometimes centuries-long interval between discovery of new knowledge and institutional adaptation to it appears throughout history: think Galileo, germs and scurvy.

In 1601, Captain James Lancaster reported to the English Admirality that bottles of lemon juice saved his ship from the scurvy that devastated the crews of three other ships under his command.

Lancaster’s observations were repeatedly confirmed, but it took 194 years, and by some estimates the deaths of nearly a million men from scurvy, before Admirality made citrus fruits a standard-issue provision on its ships.

Systems theory has been puzzling over the behaviour of organisations for 60 years.

People are very good at making technology work, Mr Savory said. We can build computers, weapons, dams, bridges, and engineer organisms at the molecular level.

Technology is complicated, but in systems thinking parlance, it is not “complex”. A bridge will always assemble into a bridge, and not begin working as a watch.

On the other hand, complex activities throw up unexpected outcomes. Management is complex, and people serially fail at it. Endeavours to do with finance, policy, human relationships, and development programs almost inevitably morph into something unintended.

Complex activity continually throws up new things – “emergent properties” – that can be observed, but not properly explained.

Resistance to change is one emergent property of institutions, Mr Savory said. Another is the frustrating inability of much institutional decision-making to get to the heart of a problem.

“It has nothing to do with our intelligence,” Mr Savory said.

“No matter how loving we are, how caring … put us in an institution, in an organisation, and complexity kicks in and what emerges from our deliberations commonly shows two characteristics: it lacks commonsense, and it lacks humanity.”

“Does it make sense for America to produce fossil fuels to grow corn, and then use 40 per cent or more of this corn to produce fuel? Clearly it’s stupid and inhumane.”

“I was horrified on arriving to hear that in Australia, that if a farmer sells good clean fresh (raw) milk to somebody, it’s a greater crime with greater penalties than peddling drugs.”

Our inability to resolve these recurring issues, despite being able to see them, has led to them being described as “wicked problems”.

Since he began working as a game ranger in Rhodesia 50 years ago, Mr Savory has been preoccupied with essentially one problem, desertification.

Over half a century, thousands of organisations have put together thousands of conferences on desertification, and it continues unchecked.

The problem, as Mr Savory sees it, is that of separate organisations viewing the issue through their own separate keyholes, while striving – often unconsciously – to retain control of the knowledge the organisation is formed around.

The result is an inability to integrate the knowledge needed to address the problem, rather than the symptoms.

“Without biodiversity loss, desertification can’t occur. Desertification isn’t a problem; it’s a symptom of biodiversity loss,” he said.

“And we are not going to be able to reverse climate change without addressing desertification, because desertification leads to climate change.

“These are all one subject, one issue, but to try and get a conference discussing it as one issue would be almost impossible. It’s a wicked problem because of our division of knowledge.”

The solution, he believes, must be to think “holistically” – and for people to act around holistic solutions to bring about change without falling into the trap of forming another organisation that quickly becomes moribund.

The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsThe Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits. by Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume. Click here to buy the paperback version from Land & Livestock International’s aStore.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
This entry was posted in Cell Grazing, Climate Change, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Global Warming, Government Interventionism, Managing the Ranch as a Business, Mob Grazing, Private Property Rights on the "Public" Domain, Radical Environmentalism, Resources, Environment and Austrian Economics, Restoriation Grazing, Savory Grazing Method, The Betrayed and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Cracking institutions

  1. Reblogged this on The Independent Advisor and commented:
    imagine being able to get Government to adopt this type of thinking that builds on relationships between disciplines that would superficially appear to be worlds apart…


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