We are especially drawn to this title being advocates of anthropomorphic business models and biomimicry. This article, Living Companies Perform Better, outlines the approach discussed in the book Profit For Life. While the specifics may differ from other proponents, the systems approach is common to this big picture way of managing complex organisations. It draws upon the lessons of nature to redefine ways of working with increasingly complex businesses. Here are the author’s, five common attributes that can be found in companies that mimic living systems:
- The companies are built of layers of networks that relay information and feedback both internally and externally. Many of the networks are informal between people inside and outside of the company.
- The companies are managed with people and relationships in mind. Companies actively let employees make decisions and hold employees accountable.
- Living companies use natural resources wisely, conserving energy and materials, with the waste of one process, feeding other processes. Conservation of financial resources mirrors conservation of natural resources.
- Living companies are open to input from all shareholders and employees, building trust and capacity.
- Living companies are aware of the larger systems they are part of, i.e. nature, communities and markets.
Straight away one notices the open management approach so well described by Ricardo Semler in Maverick. Biomimicry also draws the parallel with nature, which extends one’s tool box by drawing on the encyclopaedia of the biosphere.
And the author offers evidence that this model increases returns and reduces risk too.
(The Ecologist has a readable article on biomimicry in their October issue “It’s only natural”. They also recommend the following sites for further reading: www.zeri.org, www.biomimicry.net, www.biomimicryguild.com)