I saw the movie “Arrival” over the weekend and I thought it was a wonderful movie. It has been on my mind since then and I chuckle to myself that a movie involving 12 Alien Space ships landing on Earth could reach me the way that it did. Ah ha, I said to myself. There were 12 Alien ships just as there are 12 permaculture principles (the principles to create a sustainable agriculture system that we are borrowing to apply to our sustainable business and investment model). There are also 12 rays of the sun. Okay, Okay, this may seem like a bit of a stretch, but indulge me for a minute (I will give you a hint about the connection and it involves principles of unity). This movie had a very yin yang aspect to it. Over the course of the movie, Amy Adams, who played the professor of linguistics and translator, eventually won over the theoretical physicist played by Jeremy Renner with her seemingly unscientific methods of teaching the aliens to communicate. At the beginning of the movie, he was convinced that science was the core of what brings people together and for her it was language. Her role was essential in order to build a communication strategy with these Aliens who only uttered these strange sounds and made these circular objects from liquid they sprayed out of their pod hands. Her role had as much to do with trusting her intuition as her brilliant skills as a linguist. She obviously had strong inductive reasoning and so did the physicist. What they had in common was far more powerful than the differences that separated them, resulting in strong synergy and beautiful chemistry that enhanced their ability to communicate with the Aliens. Slowly but surely the government and military around them realized that these two were a winning combination and they mostly stayed out of the way.
The powerful principles and benefits of unity were apparent both in the two main characters as well as some of the more esoteric comments from the Aliens. Due to their advanced communication, they were trying to communicate in a visual, non-linear way to linear, 3D people. When they started talking about how the twelve of them are part of a whole, only Amy Adams could figure out that they were not talking about war, but very advanced principles of unity. The theoretical physicist started to figure out some mathematics behind what was happening that only strengthened her more benign view. Many of the governments around the world were moving toward war and these two were clearly in the minority. As we choose separation, fear, and ego, we move to a place that is very destructive. We see many examples of this going on in the world today. Behind the scenes, however, many people around the world are starting to make different choices and are coming together with more positive intentions for a better world, including the old and the young, women and men, artists and scientists, as well as people from a variety of socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.
More and more people are watching in horror the consequences of our extreme binary thinking and filtering system that has resulted in destruction to the Earth and in the general degradation of the health and well being of all life. Today many are choosing a new path, but what does that new path look like and what type of process do we follow to get there? One of the main reasons we chose to use a systems design process that mimics nature is because of the power of this particular process to more effectively analyze complex problems and create solutions that are more balanced and more of a win/win solution. This process of analysis and the resulting applied solutions are more integrated and far more sustainable and ethical than any other approach we have examined. In the movie, they talked about this win/win scenario as a non-zero-sum game.
If the choice is war, poverty, disease, severe inequalities, poor education except for the narrow few, it seems like an easy choice right now to follow a more integrated and holistic approach to problem solving. Here is where it really gets interesting. We are following these principles in the general architecture of our firm to create a more sustainable model for investing and building up companies. We are also following these principles as a core part of our process for both analyzing the companies and projects in which we choose to invest. We are using these principles to guide strategic and business development decisions for the companies. We are using these principles to design the best ways to bring teams together to help the companies develop and grow. These principles have much in common with systems design taught at many engineering schools and other programs that have creative problem solving and sustainability at the core of their mission and guiding principles. We are now finding very cool and sexy technologies such as advanced algorithmic tools and statistical programs that we can use and imbed in our process. These tools do not replace humans. They work in an iterative fashion with us.
In future blogs, we will be sharing a variety of specific examples of successful applications of these principles in order to better appreciate the power and potential of this non-zero-sum game approach to complex problem solving.
To read more about these 12 principles of permaculture that we are adopting for our systems-based design investment model, please go to the following area of our website:
If you have your own examples to share or feel some resonance with our approach and would like to discuss potential collaborations, please contact us.