How do we get organizations to think abut soils? We can present them with similar information contained in the sample websites, but not all at once and only in a selective order. Each site contains useful, important information regarding soil – the science of it and it’s undeniable link to everything in existence. Though as we’ve discussed, the communication style and the content’s degree of complexity will influence who we get to listen and how long we keep their attention. I assume we are speaking to an organization about soil for a very specific reason – either we are concerned with how their organization, or one in their direct network, is utilizing land or plans to utilize land. Knowing our target is key. Are they a large organization that only does the bare minimum to meet environmental regulations just to avoid fines? Does their organization adhere to a responsible mission and business model, but lacks the expertise or resources to reduce less favorable impacts on the soil and environmental? Or are they a small business that does actively monitor the effects their practices have on the surrounding land and that we would like to recruit to join a collaborative advocacy network? Every business owner has a different set of values, both personally and professionally. Therefore, the hooks for engaging each will vary. We will either be speaking to their heart or their wallet, or hopefully a even mix of the two.
To reach the money-minded CEO, we would be wise to discuss the financial benefits of implementing proper land management techniques. Early planning and upfront investments can pay off in large savings that may otherwise go towards fines or costly repairs. When the CEO sees the fattened bottom line, he/she tells us to send the dense soil science literature to their operations manager and his legal team. To reach the good-natured, small-business owner we would discuss the importance of healthy soil and the ways it can affect local wildlife and surrounding communities. They may not realize a certain practice of theirs is contributing to soil or water degradation downstream through non-point pollution runoff. After he recovers from the shock that his small operation is directly harming a neighboring community, he will seek further education about soil science and adjust his finances to meet the required changes.
And if neither of those work, we will muscle each business owner into a van and drive them out to Intervale. It sounds like they could learn a lot from a visit to the “living experiment”. Intervale perfectly demonstrates how mismanaged land, with appropriate care and planning, can be rejuvenated into valuable land – economically, environmentally and socially. The interconnectedness of the three systems is on full display. Even if an organization is not dealing with a soil issue specifically, the extensive initiatives show how holistic systems thinking can be put to use, practically and theoretically. Though an important question to consider is, how scalable is that model and what components are transferrable to any given organization?
Antioch MBA ’13
I came across these interesting soil maps of Africa. If the data doesn’t interest you, they sure are aesthetically pleasing. http://pruned.blogspot.com/2009/08/soil-maps-of-africa.html#