Ruminations. Ruminating. Ruminate.

To think deeply about something.

Or perhaps if you are a ruminant, as below, you might instead bring up food from the rumen (the first stomach) and chew deeply on it again.

Our dexter cattle (ruminants) chewing the cud (ruminating)

I am often to be found ruminating. To ruminate is a key part for me in developing ideas, solving problems, co-ordinating plans & receiving feedback. Recently I have been thinking about the flywheel concept following a twice chewed listen of a podcast interview with Jim Collins where he spoke on the concept of the flywheel and the concept of the hedgehog.


Above on the left is the flywheel inside our 1964 David brown tractor. Ask me how I know? Well at the start of this fair highland dry weather, poised to get stuck into the fieldwork – the clutch failed. The planting season took an oily u-turn to the barn and 4 days later re-emerged ready to get back to work. Mechanically a flywheel stores energy in the form of inertia, with the pistons sequentially pushing it around. The flywheel concept is about that inertia. Hard to rotate due to it’s mass, once rotated to speed the embedded rotational momentum lets you power through load changes.

Jim Collins’ description of his own inner flywheel resonated with me, and having turned the metaphorical wheel over slowly in my head I think I would describe the turnings of one revolution of my own inner flywheel thus:

  1. Curiosity – I want to know and understand how things work. This is top dead centre for me. The root and cause of all that follow.
  2. De-construction – I almost can’t help de-constructing the curiosity, the idea, the machine or system into its component parts to understand how it works [yes I was that kid, sorry Mom].
  3. Insight – I almost can’t help but have insight into how the machine or system works, and how it can work better or differently.
  4. Insight Validation – I almost can’t help test and validate the insight.
  5. Sharing – I almost can’t help share the understanding.
  6. Economic Engine The shared insight almost can’t help be useful to the right people in that field looking for understanding (if the format is correct). This then is the final crank of the flywheel to power the next curiosity.

My flywheel turns but I think two of the six pistons pushing it are mis-firing (or not firing at all) – the last two – sharing the hard work (5), and thus creation of the economic engine (6). In the context of doughies, I proved the concept for 5 and 6 by sharing a guide on sourdough starters which drove a small volume of e-book sales. Recently I have been challenged by seekers of information (people on the path to setting up micro bakeries) to share in more depth the workings of doughies (behind the scenes of a 100 loaf sourdough micro bakery) of which there is insight galore. But to date I’ve been spending most of my time on 1-4 of the next curiosity (developing doughies into a closed loop rye microbakery and growing sustainable local food in general), ignoring 5&6 to the detriment of the overall flywheel momentum. The exception is this blog – it is/has been/will continue to be an area to share, but it is probably not in the right format and not currently reaching the right people to truly turn the flywheel.

Related to the flywheel concept, Jon Collins described the hedgehog concept – the intersection of three areas in which transformative change can occur. The areas being:-

  1. What you are deeply passionate about
  2. What you can be best in the world at (for companies) or what you are  hardwired/encoded to do (for individuals)
  3. What best drives your economic engine – so you can find the goals and things you want to do

As with the flywheel concept, I think I am working in two of the hedgehog areas well – I am deeply passionate about local food & sustainability (hedgehog spine 1), I am a hardwired investigator (hedgehog spine 2), but I haven’t established the economic engine (hedgehog spine 3). Don’t get me wrong I pay the bills each month, and have established an economic engine of sorts here on the croft, but it is propped up by non-core things. And so not all the core goals can be fully realised.

So time to do some work on that sharing and spend some deep time developing an economic engine.

As many will know, I have been ruminating about the rise of rye (the #ryevolution) for a while. There’s some pushes going on in the field with that regard, with some selected pictures below. And related to this I am due to attend the European Diversity Cereal Festival in Denmark this June with support from the Gaia Foundation. The program of which looks a good blend of sourdough, grain & small scale agriculture. – this is going to  help push the #ryevolution flywheel further. I will be travelling slow on the train (sleeper to London, an overnight stop in Hamburg and then off to Aarhus in Denmark). Not only will travelling slow mean less carbon than flying, going slow will allow time to ruminate and write – I am going to prepare and share the first draft of a 100 loaf sourdough microbakery (behind the scenes), and write some articles about the European cereal event from the view of a highland crofter. If you’re interested in either of these, drop me a line and let’s share.


2 thoughts on “Ruminations”

  1. A good read. Yes I do remember the toys you took apart to find how things worked.
    Looking foreword to hearing about your Denmark trip

  2. Interesting read and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of your first main rye crop. Good luck Ad….

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