Sustainability Research

Operational Architecture for Organic Systems

The sustainability debate is often framed in terms of climate change and emissions. While these are extremely important issues, we feel it is critical for them to be viewed as part of a greater sustainability challenge. That greater challenge encompasses other questions, questions like how do we maintain biodiversity in the face of mass extinction? How do we cultivate sociocultural diversity in the face of globalization? How do we foster social, political and economic sustainability in the face of fragile and corrupt institutions? Understanding what sustainability means should be an ongoing interdisciplinary field of research that we all engage in.

Our response to this challenge is a methodology built upon three pillars: an organic perspective, an operations approach and an architectural mindset. The organic perspective understands culture and technology as organic, developing along a lifecycle, their populations evolving, fluctuating and interacting with the ecosystem much like biological organisms. The operational approach focuses on rigorous decision making in organizational resource management, facing uncertainty in complex systems by engineering them to be less fragile, instead of just trying to prevent the perturbations. The architectural mindset takes iterative and contextually aware design thinking to organic processes at different scales.

We propose to synthesize these methods to a discipline of organic operational architecture, a rigorous pragmatic methodology for managing living systems. We consider this craft a type of ecotechnology, in order to emphasize its nature as a practical as opposed to theoretical discipline. We believe that this pragmatic methodology - drawing on long established disciplines - is the right starting point for the long road towards tackling the sustainability challenge. We believe that in the public sphere, the primary task of ecotechnology is to design ecosystem infrastructure: community governed structures for facilitating sustainable and symbiotic cultural, technological and biological ecosystems.