I’m developing a tool that will help organisations analyse problems and design solutions. It will be a set of steps to work through a situation, to recognise and codify features that are Beneficial or Harmful, and Effective or Ineffective.

By ‘features’, I mean the characteristics of mindsets that lead to decisions, designs, policies and outcomes.

The overview framework will look something like this:

Beneficial Effective


Towards designing the tool, I’ve been trying to categorise the extreme features on the Beneficial and Harmful spectrum. The table below is my first go. You might think that all of them seem to be about the environment, even if they are about technology, economy, culture etc. That’s because the environment is encompassing and fundamental. The most extreme benefits and harms are environmental, because they lead to benefits or harms for both humans and other species. Benefit or harm begins and ends with either positive or negative actions and impacts that are environmental.

It uses the blue lens from our Flow Three Lenses tool to categorise the features.

Screenshot 2019-03-20 15.10.03

Flow 3 Lenses tool: The blue lens is like a PESTLE analysis but adds Culture & Ethics and nests the factors from External to Internal.



Beneficial intentions Harmful intentions
Environ-ment An expanded perspective so that care extends to all interdependent beings and ecosystems. Activities that prioritise ensuring a stable self-regulating climate with clean air, soil, water and thriving biodiversity. A limited horizon of community so that care only extends to the human species. Excessive dependence on extracted resources without attempts to replenish them. Leading to a disrupted climate, rapidly reducing habitability for many species. Soil, air and water are so polluted that biodiversity collapses.


Human groups collaborate to steward places to ensure that all needs are met into the future. Cultural forms reinforce this stewardship and regenerative and compassionate ways of being. A limited horizon of culture so that there is a dominant narrative. Control of media and culture to misinform and spread fear, and to gain social licence for harm. Cultural forms passively reflect harmful norms, or shore them up.
Technology Tools for production, habitation, communication or control offer potential to generate benefits for all people/beings, and further innovation to extend those benefits. Control of information technology to surveil and manipulate. Deliberate production and unquestioning use of tools and technologies that poison, harm and kill humans and other species.
Economics Enabling regeneration of ecosystems. A symbiotic exchange between parties so that needs of all equally are met into the future. Upholding a system designed to speed the flow of wealth from extracted/exploited human and non-human resources, and to enable accumulation by a few. Removing laws and measures that slow this flow and distribute stocks.
Society Communities strive to care for all, including non-humans, and defend the rights to liberty and equality of all others. Rewarding and ruling in order to actively promote violent and subjugating behaviours, often using identity as a lever to incentivise or a weapon to terrorise people. Supporting the idea that it is necessary to abandon or subjugate some in order that one’s own group can thrive.
Politics Systems that allow for evidenced, dialogic and fair decision-making, maintaining peace and equality. Supporting authoritarian systems that are dominated by those who have power gained through wealth or violence. Corruptible and ideological decision-making systems that cause chaotic uncertainty and inequality of representation.
Morality Moral codes are underpinned with vigilance, kindness and flexibility to change. Morality is taught and regularly discussed. Moral codes that are rigid, or chaotic, or used to reinforce harmful norms. Promoting personal wealth and power as the highest good, to be held in balance with (other) moral goods so that these are entirely constructed and judged by those with wealth and power.
Legality Upholding of laws to prevent harm to people, other species and the planet. Laws that enable the wealthy to gain power, so that they can continue to harm and exploit others and the environment. An absence of law and enforcement.

One response to “Beneficial

  1. Pingback: Devil in the patterns | The Learning Planet·

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