Welcome to my six-monthly round up of how my projects are going. Please overlook the fact that it’s nearly the end of May and cannot really be described as the end of winter any more. On the surface of things I have hardly done anything for my diploma this winter – no blog posts for four months etc – but actually I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my designs, about my motivations for doing them, about how to make them work individually and all together as a group. What follows is fairly dense, apologies for that now.
ACTION LEARNING PATHWAY
I am using my diploma to effect major change in my life. I have chosen to do it over four years to give myself the time to make these changes happen. This long period of time has also meant that I can observe and redesign the more complex designs. I’ve also used it as an opportunity to do ‘practice‘ designs in some cases. I’m working on a redesign of my Action Learning Pathway as I have refined my ideas a lot since I used Hedvig’s as a jump off point.
One of the ways in which I have refined my ideas is working out just how big or small a project should be. In my head, the optimum size for a single design is the size of Hedvig’s clean air plant design (which I can’t seem to find a link to right now, but I am sure Hedvig will supply in the comments). I’ll admit that when I first saw it I thought that it was quite unambitious in its scope, but that’s before I learnt how much observation and analysis it takes to actually make a design work properly. Now I think it’s just about the right size to be interesting without being so big that it needs to be broken down into smaller designs. This realisation has actually made a big difference to my designs as it as given me a scale at which I feel comfortable doing observation and analysis. I feel like I have ‘got real.’
I have also realised that there is a different between a project which is large in ‘area’ (i.e. happens over a large piece of land) and a project which is large in complexity (i.e. has lots of different facets and therefore requires lots of different mini-designs). A design could be large in size but not complex (i.e. the coppicing design I am working on – more soon), or be complex but not obviously large and important (such as the marketing designs I have been doing). What I realised is that it’s really hard to work out the size and scope of a project without either quite deep analysis or without doing it.
As I know that I naturally tend towards massive overblown projects that will change the whole world (and which I haven’t got a hope in hell’s chance of pulling off), this has been the biggest win of the diploma so far. Using the design cycle has made me slow down, observe, analyse and really think about how a design will fit into my life because for me (and I suspect for most people), it’s self observation rather than external observation that makes the difference between the success and failure of a project.
So, in redesigning my ALP I have decided to include a ‘non land based design starter kit’ which can function as my jumping off place for all non-land-based designs, as well as the basic roadmap towards my goals. I’ll include the checklist in this starter kit obviously as I am already finding it immensely useful. I’m so glad that I managed to write those ideas down because where the hell you start a non-land based design has always baffled me completely. There’s so much help with land based design and almost none at all with non-land-based design.
ACTION: Write up redesigned ALP and ‘design starter kit.’
TIME AND MONEY
The design is a basic overview of the ways in which I make/hope to make my livelihood, how much each strand will contribute to my finances and how much time it will take. With this design as with a few of the others, I hit the issue that it was impossible to do real observation and analysis without actually implementing it. I found that without actually launching my scythe teaching business I could not estimate how much time it would take up nor how much money I would make from it. My first design was based on a series of guesses. This is because almost no one (with a few exceptions) are teaching scything at the scale that I want to do it. Even if I could have done, I think I would have struggled to estimate how much time it would take me to get up to speed with running a micro-business (a long time). I really feel like I had to learn by doing in this case.
Despite ostensibly being about ‘time and money,’ this design is really about me – what motivates me, what I want to spend my precious time doing. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this recently and when I have finally come to some conclusions (I’m 90% of the way there), I’ll need to do a redesign of this. One of the biggest changes I’ll need to make is to take account of how many different income streams one person can really deal with. I am still in favour of the poly-income (a portfolio career) – spreading out your income over a number of different streams so that it is resilient to crisis – but I have come to realise that the number of different subject areas that one person can keep in their head at the same time is limited. Changing gears, e.g. from thinking about marketing scythe courses to writing, is an activity that takes time in itself. Working out which strands to keep and which to drop is hard though and I have not quite come to the end of that process so I don’t feel like I am in the right place quite yet to do a redesign of this project quite yet.
Action: Time and Money redesign when ready
Two projects down… more coming up in the next posts!