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System Diversity

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

System diversity is a key ingredient to regeneration as it creates conditions for thriving and resilience. In nature, biodiversity helps ecosystems survive and thrive. It is the rich complex web of relationships that strengthens the resiliency of the whole. We've learned from industrial agriculture that planting the same crop year after year depletes soil health and causes erosion. The lack of diversity is a risk to the system's resilience.

What can we learn from the natural systems around us? How can we apply this logic to our own social landscape?

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion field has claimed the same logic, in that diverse teams that have solid leadership and a culture will thrive and be more innovative than a homogenous team that all think alike. We logically *know* this information, but humans still struggle to embrace difference as an attribute. Like ecosystems, we also need certain systemic conditions like trust and acceptance to fully realize leveraging diversity as an asset.

I have noticed in many projects that there is now a race and social justice emphasis to ensure that underrepresented folks are elevated and centered in decisions about the future. If underrepresented folks are vital system stakeholders, how can they be thoughtfully engaged? What is the budding relationship between those who hold influential power and those who are still living at the margins?

System Diversity requires an acknowledgment that the diversity of the whole is stronger than its parts. The system will be stronger, with the engagement of as many diverse stakeholders as possible. Engaging the diversity of the system and leveraging its unique assets, while not losing sight of the "whole" will be a key leverage point in helping to solve cross-system, wicked problems. Because many of these problems transcend organizational boundaries, we must include new players. The first step is honoring the value of more diverse system players, the second step is inviting the right ones to the conversation.

Let's end with an acknowledgement. I have been spending time with the trees lately. Their stillness gifts me a quiet inner peace and comfort that dare I say makes me feel just slightly happier. Trees are beings in that they are alive with presence, strength and wisdom. They produce oxygen, provide protection for plant life, animals and winged creatures, and play a unique role in a broader forest ecosystem. Who speaks for them?

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A wonderful tree person can be found here: She spent time with our conversation group after appearing on Humanity Rising.

-- Stan

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