As James and I start to delve into the writing for our book on regenerative design for structural engineers, I am gathering my thoughts on what regenerative practice might look for an engineer. This is a working-out-loud post to help develop and share my thoughts.

The challenge with regenerative design is that we are reaching for something that doesn’t yet exist. But if we wait for the answer to be fully formed, the natural systems that we seek to regenerate – ourselves included – may be destroyed beyond repair.

And so we have to work with what we’ve got:

  • A vision for the future – it’s hard to see, ill-formed, but worthwhile working to define it.
  • Clues about the future in the present.
  • Our existing thinking tools – we can pick each one up and say will this help us on our journey or do we need to find new ones?
  • The wisdom about regenerative practice from sectors outside engineering that we can bring in.

For the first two, the Three Horizons model can help frame our thinking. Developed by Bill Sharpe, it is a tool for future thinking based on clues that exist in the present.

The Johnson Scholes culture web I find a valuable tool for identifying gaps between an intended culture, the reality and behaviours which could bridge these.

For the existing thinking tools I feel happy working with the creative thinking tools set that forms the bulk teaching.

For the wisdom about practice from other sectors, I hope I can draw upon the combined reading capacity of the twenty other members of the Regenerative Design Lab, and the network connections we make to gather wisdom and examples to draw on.

Already I feel the fog clearing a little. The piece that I am feeling I should put off is the vision for the future – so perhaps that is where I should go next.