At the National Permaculture Convergence 2023, Mitra Ardron presented and facilitated a session on Speed, Scale and Permaculture. Mitra is currently working to deliver clean water to billions of people in Bangladesh. He challenges us to ramp up our efforts to effect change and build a better future.
Mitra’s steps for scaling up projects
Firstly, set the size and speed of your project as a goal from the start. Design the project so that it can grow.
Can we responsibly make decisions at the speed of change?
What happens if we don’t ? Can we focus on solutions rather than the problems ? Tackle the challenges of scale & speed. And maintain people care, earth care and fair share.
Observe and interact – the Problem is often the Solution.
Mitra says “Ask which patterns are ripe for disruption at scale? “
Use edges & value the marginal
Mitra invites us to explore the edges of what we are working on.
Produce no waste
Ask “How would your costs, and your unit economics, change with massive scale or a different biz model, or by eliminating waste or unnecessary steps, how would that cost improvement impact the uptake?”
Explore Some Alternative Structures for Scale
The different models are B2B2C (B to B2 to C) like a supermarket model versus B2c (B directly to C) like a farmers market set up. Then there is Partnering, and Facilitation which Mitra employs in getting producers to link directly with sales team by supplying technology that makes it is cheaper and faster to link them.
Use & value renewable resources & services
What untapped resources could you use to scale up your project?
Obtain Your Yield
How can you create a yield? For all those involved the yield needs to exceed input.
Create a positive feedback loop
Creatively use and respond to change, apply self-regulation and accept feedback. Ask can your organization stay cantered in the middle of chaos? And without knowing all the facts, is it able to allow responsible people to make, and change decisions at the speed needed? Responsive projects listen to the internal and external feedback.
Design from patterns to reach scale
What are the key parts of your project? And the edges between the parts? And the edges with other participants ? How do these edges change as it scales?
Understand and Work with Succession
Use backcasting to envisage alternative futures. How would your solution look at the scale of the problem ? How is that different than it looks now ? What initial steps do we take to get there ? Apply that to each of the detail elements.
When we apply Permaculture principles to our projects, think big and long-term from the start. There is one principle that Mitra sees as an anti-pattern – it is the concept of using small and slow solutions. Mitra and the world need the opposite. With good collaboration models, you will increase the project’s reach and impact.
Once we start thinking bigger, we make lasting impact and tackle the big polluting industries that engulf us.