Now that we’re in our 15th year of operation, the staff have been reflecting on what we’ve learnt over the years. Here we would like to share some of these lessons with you.
Integration always takes place at the point where a decision is made; at the point of practice. The trick is to ensure that the integration is appropriate and does not incur too high a transaction cost. Planning for and implementing integration activities must, therefore, involve practitioners.
Resource allocation (and integration)
Kiri-ganai Research staff are always curious when we look at project management flow diagrams or organisational charts. They inevitably involve boxes (representing people, or activities or resources) and lines joining them (representing the relationships between these). So rarely are the lines made tangible by allocating tangible activities and resources to them. The lines too often represent imaginary or desirable connections and not necessarily real ones.
If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people, put the ego aside and listen to them. Let them flourish and you will flourish along with them. But do not abuse the relationship; the more you give the more you will receive.
Respecting sense of place
Acknowledgement and respect of peoples’ sense of place needs to be present in all conversations, consultations, interactions, policy development, regional planning, and program implementation, so that constructive and cooperative pathways for environmental management are found.
The first thing you learn in a ‘fear-of-flying’ class is that the pilot wants to arrive home safely too. It is the same with the many pilots of our great land-mass: Australia’s pastoralists, graziers, and farmers don’t want to crash what they care about most. And it is often the same elsewhere around the world.
The fact that our landscape has been so modified by agriculture, sometimes at enormous cost to the environment and human health, has more to do with landscape naivety than wanton recklessness. It takes a long time to learn to fly, and the complexity of ecosystems far exceeds the complicated mechanics of a plane.
On the social sciences
Behind science there will always be scientists, with all their eccentricities and objective obliviousness. Behind scientists there will always be society, with all its idiosyncrasies and means of imposing them. And behind society there will always be humanity, with all its foibles but capacity to embrace diversity. If the social sciences achieve nothing else, they may bring humanity to the ways in which problems (including environmental) are defined and dealt with. But yes, we still need our scientists; more than ever.
On big pictures
Big pictures are an advocate’s interpretation of the context embracing some phenomenon or other, and there may be as many big pictures as there are advocates. The notion there is only one big picture with respect to any issue is counter to practice. This has consequences for political and community leadership.