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Building a Regenerative Business Pt 1

Building a Regenerative Business Pt 1

By Caity

The last few months I have been reading two books, 'Call of the Reed Warbler’ by Charles Massy and 'The Regenerative Business’ by Carol Sanford. Both focus on very different industries but explore the idea of regeneration. 

In ‘Call of the Reed Warbler’, Massy describes Regenerative Agriculture as more than just sustaining something, but rather an active rebuilding or regeneration of existing systems towards full health... It implies an open-ended process, of ongoing improvement and positive transformation. 

‘The Regenerative business’ by Sanford focuses on work design that intentionally develops its members capacities and capabilities, helping them become innovators with a shared commitment and ability to advance the company as a whole. A Regenerative business inspires their employees to use their initiative to create systemic effects that ripple out and improve communities, landscapes and nations. 

Both books use real world examples to introduce regenerative ideas, showcasing inspiring farmers and businesses whose innovations have led to incredible transformations. The books showed that a regenerative Colgate employee in Europe and a regenerative Australian farmer were really not so different as they transformed and developed systems to improve what was around them. 

There is a lot of information in both books and I will not attempt to summarise here (and titled this Pt 1 because maybe there will be more) but I do recommend them.  

Lately I have been wondering how to structure Kokkoya to be both a regenerative farm and business. As we continue to grow, face bigger challenges and build our systems, we need an organisational structure that allows us to be flexible, innovative and creative. Kokkoya is jointly owned by all its farmers so we have a very young team of directors aged 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 32.

We spend a lot of time training and developing our young team and it would feel a waste to have them stuck under any hierarchical structure or have them waiting for someone else to tell them what to do.

Bill Gore (the inventor of Gore-Tex) hated working under strict channels of communication so when he started his own company W.L Gore & Associates he conceptualised an entire business functioning like one big team and later called it a lattice organisation.

A lattice organization is one that involves direct transactions, self-commitment, natural leadership, and lacks assigned or assumed authority.

Diagram (source)-


In the following diagram (source) I also like the idea of moving across the organisation rather than just being promoted up. For a small start-up there seems to be more flexibility and strength in the diagram on the right. 

So, Kokkoya for now is working towards being a lattice structure, a place where you are not limited and are encouraged to continually self-develop while at the same time improving the positive impact of the company as a whole.

What has your experience been with organisational structures? Any other reading material on the subject you would recommend?