Why decision-making is crucial for everyoneHolistic decision-making is a practical way of managing wholes. It’s remarkably straight forward, but because it is dealing with dynamic wholes, it’s not always 'easy'. Like all things in life, practice makes things better. The hints and tips on each page of this site will make the practice easier for you.
In more than one way, managing land is a bit like managing a family. It’s difficult, and sometimes we look back and realise we didn’t get every aspect of it quite ‘right’. I doubt anybody ever has. There is no magic in managing holistically: it is simply a way of having more things in your family and on the land be approximately ‘right’ most of the time, rather than horribly wrong!
Elsewhere we discuss the idea of ‘wholes’ and ‘holism’, and the fact that nature functions in wholes. For a detailed discussion on this, go here. How we manage wholes—and how we make effective decisions for wholes—depends on knowing a little bit about two concepts: ‘complicated’ situations and ‘complex’ situations.
The practical difference between complicated and complex
Complicated: When a mechanical or electronic part of a machine malfunctions it can be repaired or replaced. The apparatus immediately returns to full function as if nothing had ever happened. These mechanical systems are termed ‘complicated’.
Over time humans have become accomplished at creating and producing stunningly successful complicated technology. Even though there is often an adverse impact on natural systems, it seems our brains are hard-wired for this 'success'.
Complex: Both you and your land are complex beyond comprehension! Despite our best efforts, when something complex is disrupted it rarely returns to its original condition. With effort it's possible to restore a damaged paddock or field, but almost never to precisely its original condition. Similarly, damaged relationships can be repaired, but rarely are they exactly the same again. In short, disruption permanently changes complex wholes, even if only minutely. Disruption is normal. Depending on how you manage it, disruption leads either to degradation or growth.
With appropriate management humans are able to embrace and harness the stunning opportunity inherent in every complex whole. For example: enhanced biological function leads directly to much improved and self-sustaining prosperity, and of course, more contented people. To take advantage of this power, and to permanently stop fighting with nature, we must bridge the ‘air gap’ between our capacity to ‘think’ holistically (which is something we are all pretty good at doing) and our ability to ‘act’ holistically, which history suggests we have not been so good at doing.
Holistic decision-making is an increasingly successful bridge across that 'air gap'. That is why it is crucial for our land, and for ourselves as humans acting in relationship with nature.
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