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February 2018
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Episode 136 Process Oriented Systems Design

 At this stage of my life and at this level of knowledge this is the best practical way I know of for ME to design systems on my own land that meet the show creed – Efficient, Responsible and Sustainable. 

The back portion of the property where the food production will be the most intensive. As viewed from the chicken house.

Statement of goals  – Recognize customer and desired output. (Eggs for me/family)

Analyze – Determine what creates desired output most efficiently.  (A bird obviously but chicken, duck, goose, quail?)

Research – Examine nature and/or similar systems.  Determine what system creates desired output.  (Is there a bird in nature that I can use?  Well I can’t use a bald eagle, its illegal and it may peck my eyes out.  But birds do this in nature all the time.  They find forage and water and lay eggs.  So its not a stretch to build a system as close to nature as possible)  Observe and interact.

Process Specification – System designs are populated with supplier, inputs, process, outputs and customer.

  • Suppliers should be eliminated when possible.  Durable when not and originating as close to point of use as possible.  Use and value renewable resources and integrate rather than segregate.
  • Inputs should be as limited as needed.
  • Processes should utilize talents of components whenever possible.
  • Outputs should either benefit you/family indirectly or directly or feed back into one or more systems to maintain or improve. 


By no means a comprehensive flow - just an example.

o        Considerations

§          Sweat the details – colors, sizes, small features, materials, breeds, etc.

§          No suboptimal situations, land, objects – only things in different states of potential.  There is no waste, there are no pests, there are no weeds.  Waste is matter that you haven’t figured out how to utilize yet.  Pests are beneficial insect hor’d vores, invite the beneficials to the party.  There are no weeds, only nutrient bioaccumulators.  If you have land you don’t like, make it better.  Produce no waste/use edges and value the marginal 

These aphids became ladybug snacks!

 §          Every element should have multiple benefits when possible.

This passiflora grew wild, provided food, drew in bumblebees and looks nice.

§          Some elements should interact with other systems.  Integrate rather than segregate


§          Simple is always better.

Development – Create small version of the system (prototyping)  (Build a small chicken tractor

My chicken tractor worked great but I'd definitely change some things. Good thing I only built one!

Testing – Let the system run and monitor it  (Use and test the chicken tractor)  Use small and slow solutions 

Implementation – Build the full scale system (Build the final system) Apply self regulation and accept feedback

Evaluation and conclusion – Determine if the system meets customer needs.  Must have measureables.

  • Efficient – Amount of man hours and calories spent as a necessary component of said system.  Obtain a yield
  • Responsible – Amount of different lifeforms (introduced or otherwise into the system).  Use and value diversity
  • Sustainable – Ability of the system to resist both your absence or your reasonable meddling. Number of outside inputs needed to keep it running and their proximity to system location. 

Redesign – Change the system in small ways (nudge) until it does meet customer needs.  Creatively use and respond to change.

 Processes and systems designed around a problem must realize that there is no problem.  The problem is not a problem once the root cause becomes apparent.


Chicken manure must be aged. Why - its too hot. Why - too much urea. Why - nothing to tie it up. Why - I haven't added anything to tie it up. That's the root cause. I add wood mulch and in less than a week this three sisters garden got chicken manure!


2 comments to Episode 136 Process Oriented Systems Design

  • Erollins

    Jason, hope that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. Loved this show. I have always said that a problem is just an unanswered question which upon answering presents a new problem. If it doesn’t present a new problem, either you did not answer the question correctly or the problem wasn’t a problem. Process is always circular never linear and the problem is just one part of the circle (usually the beginning) and it always leads to a new problem. Which means that problem solving is an infinite process. I know I have reccomended this to you before but if you get the chance check out the book “Univeral Traveler” By Koberg and Bagnall. It is out of print but you can still get a copy on amazon and I think you can find a free PDF download on line. This is one of the most awesome books on process/creative thinking that I have ever read.

  • Jason


    We had a great one. Hope you guys had a good one as well.  Thanks for the compliment on the show.  I will have to check out that book.  So much to read and so little time!  LOL

    Take care,