Nature’s 9 simple rules for business survival

The success of the Greens in last weeks Federal election in Australia is a great reminder that markets are not homogenous, that there are different segments with different needs. The Greens have ended up with a National Senate Vote of almost 13% and surprise, surprise, a controlling influence on matters that come before that House of Parliament. Throw in the independents who have also convincingly won seats and you get further insight into the diverse market needs of an electorate. But segmentation is not the purpose of this blog, rather the degree to which the Greens have been ever present in Australia in recent weeks is a great reminder of nature and the Greens quest for ecological sustainability – more specifically the lessons on offer for business, from nature.

To this end I would like to share a Fast Company magazine’s take on the thinking developed by Adam Werback in his book Strategy for Sustainability (Harvard Business Press 2009) – along with a few interpretative thoughts (love the license some brackets provide!)

1. Diversify across generations (hang-out with younger generations, they always see the world differently)


2. Adapt to the changing environment and specialise (think challenger brands!)


3. Celebrate transparency. Every species knows which species will eat it and which will not (think real triple bottom line reporting)


4. Plan and execute systematically, not compartmentally. Every part of a plant contributes to its growth (the death of the silos!)


5. Form groups and protect the young. Most animals travel in flocks, gaggles, and prides (think potent graduate programs and meaningful mentoring programs)


6. Integrate metrics. Nature brings the right information to the right place at the right time. When a tree needs water the leaves curl; when there is rain, the curled leaves move more water to the root system (at the very least take on the thinking offered in Good to Great and know what drives your economic engine if you won’t step up to triple bottom metrics)


7. Improve with each cycle. Evolution is a strategy for long term survival (rapid pilot programming is a useful mindset)


8. Right-size regularly, rather than downsize occasionally. If an organism grows too big to support itself, it collapses, it withers, it is eaten (consciously decide what resources are core and what can be outsourced or contracted for specific projects)


9. Build an enduring foundation. Nature uses resources only to the level that they can be renewed (think beyond risk profiling and equity to debt ratios – factor in the renewal of your people)


At very least the above is a reminder of the power of an effective analogy in creative thinking. If that does not make sense to you, think again!

Peter Singline
Brand Scientist

1 Comment

  1. Some nice, clear points accompanied by a great bunch of images. A nice reminder that the brand is there to serve the strategy of the business, and the brand identity and brand communications design is there to serve the brand strategy – an ecosystem of marketing for business success.

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