I’ve been reflecting on this past year working in the live illustration game and realise I’m in this very privileged position, where I get to be a fly on the wall for many business workshops or social initiatives.I’ve spent my time in the regenerative space, in diversity and inclusion, self-development and leadership spaces. And I’ve noticed a common theme that I want to share…
And if I pose this theme as a design thinking question it’s this:
“How might we… create an environment for what we want to thrive?”
The key words here are ‘environment’ and ‘what we want’.
Here’s what I mean - Let’s go macro for sec and bring it down to what it means in the micro after.
Take nature for example, a literal environment. What grows in your backyard depends on what the surrounding environment enables. And when I say ‘environment’, I don’t just mean weather. It’s the soil quality, the food or nourishment, the plants around it, the type of seed, where you plant. If a flower isn’t flowering, we change it’s location, it’s environment, right? We don’t think “there’s something wrong with this flower”, “maybe this flower isn’t going to be a flower after all”. The expectation is that this is a flower and flowers bloom, so what can we change to enable this flower to blossom? How can we create the environment for it to do its thing? We don’t need to control when or how the flower blooms or try and make it blossom. We just need to enable the conditions and then get out of the way.
Let’s bring it down to the micro now, and focus on the body as an example. It’s the same story. Like nature, our body doesn’t work in silos either. It’s again, this ecosystem thinking, where the body is designed to thrive if we can create the right environment, provide the right conditions, then the body can tick along nicely. This might look like meeting our physical needs, our ‘maslow's’, meeting our emotional needs, spiritual needs. But in the same way, we can be creating a thriving environment for things we don’t want, all through our behaviours and actions.
So it begs the question - What does your body need to thrive the way you want it to?
How can you create an environment for your body that is healing, nurturing, balanced?
It’s the same for our communities, our workplace cultures and society in general. How can we create an environment where our community enables itself to thrive? How might we work together to ensure the foundation around us, the soil so to speak, is rich in nutrients and able to nurture those around it? To create a space which puts the stronger plants in a position to shelter those not yet strong enough to weather the storm. It’s the age-old question - “What would nature do?”.
I love how trees share nutrients and information with each other via their root system underground, or how plants use what they need and when they have excess amounts of nutrients, instead of hoarding it or using it to compete against others, they share it with the plants around them.
Imagine if we have a society that did that, that truly mimicked nature?
What would that environment look like for you?