“Sometimes, sitting on a park bench and looking at trees can teach us lots about our business”Marc Gilenson, author of “The Entrepreneurialway”
No, I am not sitting around hugging trees, but I do practice the art of doing nothing, so I can accomplish a lot. The other day I was sitting in a park thinking about my goals for 2020, and I found myself looking at this oak tree and thinking about how interconnected all the parts of the tree are. How this tree is able to be around for hundreds of years, and what companies that have been around a long time have in common with this tree.
The roots of the tree are what anchor it to the ground and prevent it from falling and then dying. You may know that the root system of a tree is a replica of the branches above the ground.
No matter how big your business gets and how great leaders believe they are, it is the foundation that the company is built on that will prevent it from falling.
What is the foundation that is keeping your company grounded?
Up from the roots stands the trunk of the tree. This is the strength of the tree. It is a pathway for nutrients from the roots to the highest point as well as from the top leaf to the root system. It is the strength of the trunk that allows the tree to grow tall.
The trunk is also the historian of the company, or in today’s world, the data manager. The trunk records the health of the tree and identifies how the outside environment has affected the whole tree’s health.
In your business, your leaders, their values and culture act as the trunk of the tree. It will allow your company to grow large and strong. Your values and culture are what will determine the flow of ideas, profit, profit improvement and success of your organization. You can track the health of your company by looking at your companies values and culture. During healthy times, you will see a culture of the values demonstrated by corporate entrepreneurs… a culture of mutual benefit.
The branches on this oak tree are as big as some trees. They are how the tree is able to tailor its growth so that it can get the most sustenance for all parts of the tree. You will see many branches going is different directions. This is so that the tree can have multiple opportunities to get sustenance. There will be times when one branch is more productive than the others, however, its success feeds the whole tree. From these large branches, you will have smaller branches spring to life.
In business, the branches are subsidiaries, departments, work-groups, thought leadership pods, think tanks, and any other type of collaborations that is happening. Many times the subsidiaries grow so big, that they must be separated from the parent company so it can grow even bigger. Departments as well can grow so big that they break from their own weight. Smaller work groups, thought leadership pods, and think tanks will enhance innovation and process improvement.
The leaves of the tree are what captures and converts light and CO2 into sustenance for the whole tree. They are the most fragile part of the tree and and can easily be torn away from the tree. The environment affects the leaves, which in turn affects the whole trees health. No matter how big and strong the trunk of the tree is, it cannot survive without the leaves
Employees are the leaves. Your employees are the ones that take all the input from customers, vendors, the industry and then convert it into sustenance for the company. The human resource is the most fragile, and yet it is responsible for the health of the whole organization. From the employees sprout new ideas, innovations, process improvements and more.
Each part the tree has its role, yet every part of the tree is dependent upon each other for its health.
In your company, does each department and employee understand how what they do affects other departments and the health of the company?
For a deeper discussion, listen to our podcast about the oak tree, click here.