As you can imagine I think a lot about design. If you ask Michelle I think a lot about everything. I think she thinks of me as an opportunity firehose that is constantly spraying her with ideas, and it can get overwhelming. Until about three years ago, we had no way of managing opportunity and we just ran after it like hungry dogs. The problem was that we were saying yes to everything and it was burning us out and not getting us ahead.
This is when Holistic Management (HM) came into our lives and changed everything.
Holistic Management is a framework used to manage complex land-based systems like farms. We had known about it for at least 6 years because of a TED talk from Allan Savory: How to Fight Desertification & Reverse Climate Change. (This is honestly one of the most hopeful videos I have ever watched! )
We never acted on holistic management as we did not have a farm to manage. However, around three years ago we stumbled onto this blog series from our friends and colleagues VEG in Australia and it changed everything. All of a sudden HM could be used to manage our businesses, our personal life, and our future farm. We embraced it and built one for both of our businesses and our personal life.
So what is Holistic Management?
HM is a subtraction tool, just like permaculture and engineering. If life, your business, your farm, and your relationship represents an almost unlimited number of possible directions, how do you make decisions that propel you towards your perfect job, farm, work -life balance, community, financial picture, ecosystem or business?
Believe it or not, you subtract your way toward it. HM starts by defining the values that you hold dear about money, family, sustainability, community, personal aspirations, spirituality and many more and then gives you a framework to test opportunities against the context. Decisions that meet all the value criteria get a greenlight while everything else gets a red light.
Life gets easier when you remove options – the trick is removing the wrong options and keeping the good ones. When we do design for folks, we use HM for the goals and permaculture/engineering for the ecology, technical sciences, and legal constraints. You can see a visual example of this below in the venn diagram. When we add these different design tools, there is a sweet spot left in the middle and that is where the perfect design lands.
HM is about the PROCESS of making good decisions. It is the skill no one ever taught you but that you needed to feel confident that you made the right choice(s). It’s a process that removes decision remorse!
Michelle is a HM whiz and is guiding a workshop with The Agrihood Project that is open to the public on February 26th. Here are the details for the workshop. If you are keen to learn the PROCESS of making good decisions in life, business, and farming, I highly recommend that you check this workshop out. This workshop might be a fit for you if you:
–Are looking to start a business
–Are too busy in your business chasing too many opportunities
–Are struggling to make life decisions quickly without remorse
–Are feeling stuck and don’t know how to move forward in life
–Have multiple decision makers in your business, not for profit or farm and struggle to come to consensus
–Have a spouse that can’t stop creating opportunity and it overwhelms you and puts a strain on your relationship
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!
In less than 10 years, Rob & Michelle Avis left Calgary’s oil fields and retooled their engineering careers to help clients and students design integrated systems for shelter, energy, water, waste and food, all while supporting local economy and regenerating the land. They’re now leading the next wave of permaculture education, teaching career-changing professionals to become eco-entrepreneurs with successful regenerative businesses. Learn more and connect with Rob & Michelle on;
View the original article here: https://vergepermaculture.ca/2017/02/20/addition-through-subtraction/