Goal setting can occur across all organisational levels and is necessary to establish purpose. This purpose should be clearly understood and broadly supported. For example: a goal for a community organisation might be 'to sustain dunal vegetation in the local area through restoration, management and educational networks.
Self organising at different levels
While an overarching goal is necessary, being too prescriptive about how that goal is achieved will restrict the range of responses and creativity needed in dynamic coastal environments. One way flexibility and self-organisation can be encouraged is through structures and processes that facilitate experimentation and learning across the organisation.
Transparency is fundamental to promoting trust. Regular reflection can ensure that all actions are consistent with system and organisational goals and values.
Reflective and anticipatory
Reflective and anticipatory capacity will help an organisation to move beyond reactive responses, to proactive and transformative responses. It promotes questions regarding expectations, successes, failures and new strategies. This process should not be confused with a focus on increased efficiency. Instead, the focus should consider how to increase options, challenge entrenched beliefs and facilitate resilience within complex systems.
The adaptive learning process is fundamentally related to action and experience, and is most effectively achieved when directly linked to policy and practice. In this way, decision-making becomes an experimental process rather than a rigid set of rules. In dynamic and uncertain coastal contexts, the need to act with imperfect knowledge is best achieved when organisations gain internal and broader community support for actions.