When you have many new exciting technologies and scientific innovations swirling around you, it takes tremendous discipline to stay focused on your important goals whether you are an investor looking to make his/her required returns or a CEO of a fast growing start up. The better you are doing the more attention you get. How do you say no to more money, a higher valuation, and/or important new investors? Should you even try? If no one else is doing this when money is freely available, are you at a competitive disadvantage if you move more slowly when everyone else around you is sprinting way ahead raising piles of new money to fuel their growth? With very high valuations that never seem to go down it all seems to make sense. Why not start and run multiple companies at once? Why not grow and grow and grow as fast as you can to dominate a market? And on and on it goes, until one day it changes and things start to fall apart. You wonder how you did not see it coming or why you got so caught up in things.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or an investor, there is a need for a sensible set of guidelines to help guide you during times like these. The permaculture principles we use in our investment decisions are a highly effective solution for all concerned. They help the entrepreneur stay disciplined and the investor stay sensible. They help to align all stakeholder interests on an ongoing basis. They help to remind us to be efficient and not wasteful. They help to remind us how to develop our businesses with integrity, compassion and alignment with each other and the environment. We can use them to guide all our interactions with important inter-disciplinary stakeholders. Over the shorter term, it may seem we are giving up on financial returns by following these principles, but that is rarely the case longer term. When people get carried away things start to break down and what seemed exciting at one point looks crazy the next. For example, just look at all the negatives lately about how Uber has been behaving when none of that was ever necessary to build a great company. They are justifiably ahead of a new movement but the arrogance and hubris of their recent behavior puts a cloud over the whole space and also lacks integrity. Following permaculture principles is not a static discipline or set of tools where you check a box. They are a set of principles and guidelines that are as fluid as the companies are as they bend and turn and yield along the way. They are always there when you need them and as you stray away they are there to help you get back on track.
They are not our invention. They are based on the study/observation of the relationship between human and natural systems, as described by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (http://www.holmgren.com.au). How can you argue with billions of years of evolution to help guide our behavior? They help to guide you to “win-win” or “non zero sum game” solutions to complex problems. Or else we can continue with our king of the hill, arrogant, predatory, wasteful, non-inclusive, winner take all business and investment mindset we use today. People mistakenly think this self-interested definition of business and finance is capitalism as it has certainly served the interests of the narrow few very well, but it has not been so great for the rest of us and it has caused tremendous destruction to the environment. Capitalism needs to follow these natural principles if it is to survive and thrive in the world going forward. Socialism is not the answer but people swing towards extremes when they are afraid or worried. These principles bring you back to a balanced state where everyone benefits. These principles are the very essence of what people mean when they refer to “people, planet, and profit.” They are how you get there.
Please see the following section of our website for more information on this process: