What business can learn from nature.
Writer and speakers Giles Hutchins challenges leaders to question how we run our organisations – and to shed light of the the systems the underpin the way we work.
What would happen if we could go beyond the mechanistic mindset (the metaphor of the organisation as a machine – with production and efficiency at as its primary functions) to an understanding of the organisation as an eco-system, where leaders nuture a system that measures value in terms of connectedness as well as productivity?
Perhaps it all sounds too unrealistic and even idealistic, and not least because 'that's just not how business works'? Until you listen to the words of Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant Thornton UK, who advocates:
“..moving to this idea of organisations being these communities of connected beings... so for me the metaphor of the networked organism – that has a lot more resonance”
The way we currently do business is not working, with heavy environmental and social costs. What Giles, Sacha and others like them are learning is that there is wisdom in nature that could provide the answers to a new way (and some might say ancient way) of resetting our undertanding of how organisations work.
There are sort of two prevailing metaphors that I think that existing organizations at the moment so.... either it's that it is a machine and there are levers that you pull and then the machine will do what you want.
Or there's the metaphor of an organization being like a human body where the head or the senior management team do all the thinking and without direction from the head the limbs can't move and and I, I fundamentally believe that those metaphors are unhelpful for what we actually need to achieve in business and in society now.
And so for me this whole moving to this idea of organisations being these communities of connected beings, and that actually fundamentally people will only do stuff if they actually believe that it's a good thing to do if it makes sense, and that that it makes sense for them personally as well as organizationally.
And so so for me that sort of metaphor of, you know, the networked organism that has a lot more resonance.