ON THE NEED TO THINK STRATEGICALLY

Suzy and I helped create a wondrous park at the centre of a beautiful rainforest in Costa Rica. With friends, we transformed an unusually shaped 60 acres in the “Mystic Valleys” area of the Southwest Talamanca Mountains, planting hundreds of fruit trees and plants.

As expected, in 2-3 years dozens of animal, bird and butterfly species had taken residence and completed the transformation, turning the property into a most beautiful jungle reserve.

National Geographic Magazine describes the south of Costa Rica as the most diverse place on Earth. To give you an idea, more than 10,000 species of flora and fauna can be found in a tiny zone called the Barù Riverain and so this is where we set up our school.

The mystic valleys straddle both sides of Route 243 between the southern hub town of San Isidro in the Valle El General and the Pacific Coast at Dominical, a popular surfer haven. The mystic valleys occur where dozens of mountains ranging from 300-2000 meters altitude crisscross to create tiny cloud or rainforest valleys linked by narrow
aretes and winding trails.

Mayamü, the tiny valley we helped transform, is composed of 30 acres of jungle floor and about the same number as vertical slopes. The steep inclines rise to the level of the tops of giant trees. In one place an incline flattens to a soccer-field-sized plateau surrounded by the canopy. That tiny flat looks into the tops of trees that are 200-250 feet high. Some of those rainforest giants have buttressed roots and trunks so large you need 20-30 people holding hands to gird one.

We bought that property with a strategy in mind. We wanted to attract and observe the wildlife and knew that 80% of everything that lives in the rainforest lives in the canopy, the treetops. I wanted to watch Nature work its magic and, in a wheelchair, I needed to find a better way than chasing through the jungle understory and looking up.

On the slopes leading to that 100 x 150 metre garden, we planted more than 500 fruit trees of 50 different species... to make sure there's food year 'round. As soon as the bananas grew, monkeys moved in; within three growing seasons, there was a large resident menagerie.

All around that treetop garden, we planted more than 200 perennial species of medicinal plant and more than 100 species of exotic flowering plant, bush and tree. Next a carved trail several hundred meters long that winds down to the garden from an ocean view ridge, we planted more than 100 species of jungle plant on the endangered list. Very rare and often unusual, they are now in plain view, safe and seeding.

Our strategy was to put in place optimum conditions to allow the park to emerge. We gave the trees and plants
Club Med treatment... and then let Nature sort it out. We never planned on the quantum value that was produced. The result is such a display of beauty and wonder that words just don’t describe. Now, visitors to the garden need only remain quiet for a few moments before they are rewarded with an incredible show... as dozens of species soon ignore their presence and go about their daily life. After a while, you can’t help but feel that you are standing in the middle of a buffet table.

To experience Nature at its best, my partner Suzy and I learned about
the need to think strategically. We not only explored the creative steps to building a park but understood the nuances of how Nature’s Intent requires us to be strategic thinkers. It’s a ninth principle of self-organization in complex systems.

We are convinced that understanding Nature’s strategies is key to living a self-actualized life and so
my next few blog entries will expand on strategic thinking... its benefits and reasoning.

I was not surprised to find most people don’t know much about strategic thinking. I realize most of us are conditioned to desire a world that doesn’t have conflict and where differences can be easily sorted out. As such most people don’t see the need to learn how to think strategically so when conflict invariably does occur, they are powerless to do much but react to it.

Most have no strategies to rely on.

We know that life is composed of events and circumstances that impact our experience of it. Events are described as observable phenomena, or ordinary and even extraordinary occurrences and /or planned actions. Circumstances are facts or personal conditions connected to or relevant to an event or series of actions.
Events will occur in two time-modalities we'll call Sequential time and Simultaneous time. Sequential time describes events in the action/reaction phases that compose their unfolding and interaction. For example: A does that and then B responds by doing this. Sequences can be repeated. Simultaneous time describes actions planned regardless of the interactivity where A and B find themselves, and actions to be unleashed at an opportune future time.

Sequential events can be managed by articulating
Logic Tree Strategies. The logic tree problem-solving method allows you to detail the decision-making scenarios and outline potential outcomes. As he climbs each small step up the logic tree, the solver branches out into specific responses to a problem, to arrive at a series of satisfactory responses based on circumstance-specific variables.

Simultaneous events must be managed by understanding
Games Theory Strategies. Events and circumstances will be deemed to be a part of the one Infinite Game, or a part of a Finite Game. That decision determines the response. Finite Games Theory is the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation that mainly addresses zero-sum games where one person's gain exactly equals the net losses of another. This can apply to a wide range of human game playing: A person find or develops a plan that offers better results than another approach, and applies it to best others who eventually respond. To play a « Finite Game » you have to know the game rules.

To play the « Infinite Game » we need a predetermined response.

Next time I’ll discuss the 4 qualifications that transform events and circumstances into complex systems we can then influence. I’ll explain how our influence can cause
opportunity to emerge.