2.3 Interdependency of systems
The control system approach to project control provides a simple overview of the process of planning, measuring against the plan and taking action to bring things back into line if necessary. This suggests that events will move in a fairly linear way. Life is messier than this, however, and every time that something happens it will have an impact on everything else around it – so the interdependency of systems is important to consider.
Example 3: A symbiotic relationship
An organic rice farmer in Japan has ingeniously devised a good way to overcome pests. Takao Furuno's farming method has been called a ‘one-bird revolution’. Since its introduction ten years ago, it has been eagerly taken up by 10,000 Japanese farmers. Its simplicity adds to its beauty. It revolves around the duck.
Soon after the rice seedlings are planted, ducklings are released into the paddy fields. The ducklings readily launch themselves into their new habitat and eat the insects and snails that attack the seedlings. They also use their feet to dig up weeds to eat, and by doing so they oxygenate the water and encourage the roots of the rice plants to grow.
The amazing thing is that ducklings don't like rice seedlings – something to do with the silica content. Farmers adopting this new method no longer need to spend up to 240 hours per hectare in manual weeding every year; they can sell the ducks at market, and can increase the rice yield by between 20% and 50%.
Takao, who worked out his method by a ‘combination of contemplation, inspiration and experimentation’ has not patented his method, as he wanted it to be widely adopted.
A symbiotic relationship can be positive, or the impact that occurs when something happens can have a negative result. Think back to a project that you were working on and consider what examples there were of interdependency. Takao said that he used ‘a combination of contemplation, inspiration and experimentation’ to work out this method. How did you see the interdependency.
You need to be alert to what is happening in different areas of the project. It will help you to identify potential interdependencies that could work either for you or against you. The sooner that these are identified, the sooner you can take action.