5. Fertilize

We don't have to create life. Life creates itself. In contrast with controlled strategic interventions, the professional who follows the ecological worldview will trust natural development and the cycle of regeneration. We can create a context in which life can flourish or at least we have to stop blocking life to flourish. Fertilizing doesn't mean to add a bunch of chemicals on the ground, and by analogy, not adding expertise from the outside into a system. Fertilizing means the life generating interaction between two or more individuals of the same species or different species. It can be a process of mutual insemination of thought, feelings and experiences. Lets look more closely to four patterns of fertilization professionals can use.


First, the major principle to fertilize is to increase qualitative and quantitative interactions. Our general guideline: Intensify communications, emotions, and actions. In meetings for example more ideas are generates if all participants engage themselves fully amongst all actors in a system until a critical point is reached at which the systems will generate new life. When there is more communication from the deeper inside and more connection with the larger outside, more initiative will emerge in the system. A meeting without tables, standing, mixed with some bodily and emotional exercises, will generate more ideas. Sitting in a circle and sharing life stories creates a strong foundation for group decisions. Suppose for example that you enlarge the scope of employees. People will start to live, to be more engaged, but also to be more demanding. They will expect the workplace is a place to live. By adventuring this move, people will also start to become responsible for their workplace, which has then become their habitat. More creativity, shared owner- and leadership, motivation, and synergy will be expected. It is our belief that this development will move further in the direction of a more well-formed relationship of individuals in organisations and organisations in the whole.

How can you use your clients to fertilize other clients and larger wholes?

Second: We need differences and diversity to trigger each others' development. Biodiversity is the natural equivalent of this idea. Cross-pollination is the pattern to with which different species are mixing their potential. To fertilize the development of your clients, professionals can use the Vygotskian idea of zone of proximal development: propose your client an awareness-raising context. The insight is that pampering doesn't trigger development but presenting a possibility that is challenging is an impulsion for the 'proximal' development. The intervention creates a leap in the client's thinking, feeling and behaving. It is quite difficult to predict if the presented challenge is in the zone of the next developmental phase of the client. That's way experimenting and using feedback is the key. A presented idea can be a bridge to far for the client or a presented context has no added value.

Cross-pollination's equivalent for professionals is co-creativity. Students are not boxes that to be filled with knowledge, employees are not resources that have to be instructed, patients are not object to be fixed. Although they have different roles and positions, still they are partners in a process of co-creativity and relationship building.

What do you want to learn from your clients?

Third, professionals are change experts. They want their clients to change behaviour, stop smoking, choice a modest lifestyle, a better eating pattern. Policy makers, managers and consultants want their clients to be more quality in work, a better leadership in the company, more innovations, etc. Instead of thinking professional activity as an intervention in a linear change from A to B, they can use the fertilize pattern. Development occurs when present states are fertilized by dreams. New images enter our awareness and can start to interact with the present. Differences amongst people and differences between present and future generates creative tension. Changing people is the art of balancing between continuity and discontinuity.

Fourth, we have to learn to accept lifecycles. Dying is a fertilizing movement for other beings in the system. The entropic phase fertilizes the soil for the next crop to grow. By ending a project with clients, space is created for new things. Ending something is a wise act that is not painful if we can think in larger wholes. This pattern contrast with the linear exploitation of earth resources in the global economy: nothing is given back to the soil, except harmful waste.

What do you give back to the earth?
What is the meaning of ending a project?