Let’s take the opposing view to anthropomorphism and through metaphor and other constructs describe business as it could be understood within an ecological sense.
To do this takes a real separation from reality, to derive useful value from the sentiment probably takes experience in the business world itself, and to define the eco system in a few short paragraphs requires restriction of the frame through which we view this comparative.
Firstly I’m going to drop a bombshell not all businesses are the same. They look the same from an employee perspective, of course the average day of the employee shares certain processes whether in a huge corporate or a micro business, however to the average blood cell or muscle cell in the average creature the world would be expected to look pretty similar as well.
The brain cells of the business the neurons so to speak, being its founders and executive team, these individuals see the world through a restricted worldview, based on the species they are from. As the business grows so does the nervous system and as a result many different viewpoints are formed within the business, influenced both by hierarchy, strategy and role. Essentially managers will fulfil certain tasks, and feedback via a neural net to the brain which then will make decisions based on the experience and strategy of the brain cells.
Of course we get many types of brain cells, and unlike in the animal kingdom these brain cells can both be easily transplanted and can transmogrify, through a self-determined or animal determined process. This is the case of all cells in the business world, and essentially cells can transform and transplant from animal to animal. Essentially for the purposes of our model our sperm cells in this business world aren’t spermatozoa but spore-like, new life is brought into existence more through a process of expectant almost “spontaneous generation,” than through mating. Each cell has its own memory, its own thoughts and experience and unlike our own somatic cells the business cell can change quickly with time, dependant on the health and the components and characterisation of the cell to begin with.
The cell here can be characterised based on its constituent components. It may have a rapidly mutating genetic code with very short half-life, and as such mutate rapidly and as a result fill many role types in its life time. By similar consideration the cell may have significant vesicles of a variety of types or a complex genetic structure. The presence of particular vesicles may direct a cell towards likely tasks. A complex genetic structure may result in a cell filling a specific technical or management role. While a particular configuration of the cohesiveness of the cell may bind it to certain other cell types more easily or less easily and result in a cell becoming a journeyman or alternatively peripatetic by form.
Although the business person/ the neuron does not see it themselves the sector, the customer, the business size and the business purpose all shape them into becoming the brain of a very specific type of animal, and directs them to fill a very specific type of function. We could argue in smaller animals the brain cell is less specialised while in larger companies it is more specialised. This simple point of view enables us to consider why indeed it can be difficult for those who run startup companies to adapt to run larger companies and in fact for those who run larger companies to adapt to run smaller ones.
As a result of the body conditioning the cells becomes conditioned to consider certain businesses “food,” certain businesses potential “mates.” Each part of the body may also have differing viewpoints, hence why the business acts as a very complex internal environment. A number of core systems act as hormones and tend to regulate the thoughts of the business into cohesion. The command lines for our cells are job roles, motivations/ salaries, and cultural norms which change how the individual cell interacts.
If we want the cells responsible for gathering food to gather more we may change a commission structure, while if we want a management team to focus we may issue shares / ownership in order to motivate.
Here we introduce the investor cells, again these cells can transmogrify and often originate from other cell roles but these animal groups tend to be smaller than businesses and highly specialised. These cells are programmed to understand business/ systems dynamics. Essentially they invest their efforts and resources into different types of third party animals in order to grow more “resources,” money as the staple here is used to enable the investor cell to have a wider influence than it otherwise could as a small group of cells.
The investor cell again is programmed like any other, like many symbionts it will target certain types of host. Certain investors like low risk opportunities, these organisms tend to prefer “elephants,” and large game. They invest all their resources in larger more complex organisms that they believe will produce more resource on which to feed. Other investor cells focus on smaller higher risk organisms and focus on hosts such as mice and even on the grass itself. Risk can as with the other cells often depend on the experience of the symbiont.
Ultimately the word “business,” here defines the environment, in fact the whole taxonomic structure of my point of view. Businesses have certain attributes that help define the taxon that the business is part of. Unlike the animal world, some if not all business animals that exist cant differentiate between business species types without some non-visual aids.
Complex behaviours and success in this world of resource and cells is often judged “within the eye of the beholder,” after all mice see the world of mice and men the world of men. Certain cells will through growth and trans-speciation due to organism growth see many different “Weltanschauungs,” /world views. This of course gives a wider picture to said cell types but on a direct level can sometimes result in them through pre configuration being more or less successful within different animal types. Something for every neuron to be aware of.
Just as humans are generally attracted to humans just so are mice attracted to mice and elephants attracted to elephants. The mating behaviour of organisms and partnership of creatures is complex. Certain rituals are carried out such as the imposition of win and qualifying criteria, if these are passed so the animals may mate, and this may result in successful creation and birth of new large organisms, or in this world of business in fact enable both businesses to become one much larger organism.
In terms of feeding classification we start with autotrophs. The base of our food chain. These are uni cellular and multi cellular organisms who essentially create resources completely non-destructively. They are to small to have an impact as individuals on larger organisms, however changes in their behaviour at a population wide level can cause an eco-system to flourish or to fail.
In business the ecosystem is complex, certain types of speciation result in a “browsing herbivore,” type behaviour whereby they will non-destructively feed on elements of common consumer problems. They eat up the consumer problems and through the digestion mechanism they add fuel for consumer spending growth. Essentially the grass and leaves (consumers and Business needs of others) acting as a fodder for the business.
We get large and small herbivores everything from elephants to tiny aphids. As with the normal perception of herbivores so large business animals exist such as elephants, and whales and small animals exist such as mice and zoo plankton, which feed on the outputs of phytoplankton, the micro businesses of our world.
Essentially herbivores are businesses which feed on business outcomes which are distinct from their own perceptive field, businesses to large or too small to be considered equals. Often herbivores feed in an essentially non-destructive way dependant on the availability of a food source. Let’s imagine for a moment a “bank,” which holds the resources of the animal for a “rainy day,” but only rarely does it choose to kill a client business, unless of course its food source is restricted when survival mode as with all life forms kicks in.
Other types of business animals are carnivorous these animals grow through simple acquisition. They consume other businesses and as a result gain energy and grow. These are in essence the lions of the business world always in pursuit of a kill. They can perceive the business they consume, essentially it’s of a similar usually smaller size/ weight ratio but they consume it non the less, harvesting the cells and resources of the consumed and using those the animal needs discarding the rest.
We have “Omnivores,” businesses which consume both the perceptible and imperceptible. An interesting point of this group could be “bigger brains,” nervous systems that design organisms that feed regularly in multiple ways require more roles and functions in place and these need designed. Omnivores also can exhibit very fast growth cycles, through complex feeding behaviour the animal can survive in multiple environments of both scarcity and plenty, but can also grow more quickly than others when foodstuff is indeed plentiful.
In closing the business eco system described draws many parallels in life and knowing ones place in the eco system can facilitate a more rapid growth of an organism based on a rapid understanding of the food factors available.
For each of us however we must also realise that in the reputed words of Socrates “a wise man knows that he knows nothing,” we should understand that no matter how rounded we believe our own view we always have something new to learn, and a new angle from which to understand it.
Inspired by Ralph Van Der Pos statement “Elephants mate with elephants.”