Permaculture is an agroecological systemic design tradition for maximizing the sustained flourishing of resource-renewing cycles in which we participate. Despite success both as a design approach and design movement, improvements can address systemic challenges, such as providing design assessments that steer projects in directions more likely to thrive. Permaculture practitioners now recognize that project success does not stem primarily from technique choice or execution, but instead how those techniques engage their social context and resource networks. Quality in permaculture design now incorporates the quality of the design process itself. However, the idea of a comprehensive permaculture assessment misunderstands the multi-faceted character of the tradition, so we only approach assessing permaculture design processes.
We suggest that when one assesses a permaculture design process, one is assessing the reliability to lead practitioners in substantially improving the sustained flourishing of resource-renewing cycles. Yet, measuring this reliability is problematic, as design is a messy and chaotic enterprise that randomly rewards abductive insights. We instead develop questions that apply to the different aspects of many design processes, and then adapt those to permaculture, allowing assessments throughout the design process. We also compare permaculture design to other fields that have similar process structures, offering useful contrasts.