Think of your business as being alive, hungry and ready to jump out and eat and grow and have little businesses of its own! Tzun Tzu thought that to win a war, you must win it before going into it, or lose before going into it and strategically avoid it till circumstance favors. And for the daunting 10% success rate of startups, if you can “win” before starting your business, you better win before starting the business.
I suggest you think of your business as an evolving organism, because it allows you to think of it as something that’s deeply rooted in you: Survival. And this will unconsciously and consciously transpolate this mindset to your startup. Add in a little Steve Blank, Some Erick Ries, Get into the UX thing and make it all dance to the pace of a jazzy Agile methodology in such a way that it gamifies the cycle for collaborators that are as motivated as they are resourceful, and you’ll end up with a fairly evolved organism.
If business where an organism, it would need an ecosystem, “From a biological viewpoint, it is a ‘biocenosis’ – a biological community that describes organisms living together in a habitat. These organisms need to be able to adapt and survive in an ever-changing environment. It is an open system with a life cycle that consists of many different ‘species’ with different roles and needs. However, what all these species have in common is that their survival depends on the ability to acquire resources to sustain existence.1” V. Kumar commented this while looking at the busy downtown of a large city, I see “a form of symbiotic relationship between man and steel, where each structure is very much like a living breathing organism (…) various entities which at first appeared to be independent of each other were actually interconnected ”(2).
If a business was an organism, it would need a nervous system, to know when its hurting or when it feels good, and depending how evolved it is, what its environment is and where its going. Think of the metrics or “Analytics” of your company as the nervous system of your company, and depending on how well you understand your company’s environment, you might also think of your nervous system having the more evolved parts like multiple complex senses informing a brain like structure through the virtual idea of what its environment is based on multiple sources of data. But be also aware of the dangers of “Thinking” you know what the environment is and then run towards a cliff or a wall, be objective about what you know.
Energy Use: It would need a way to grow itself and reproduce. To move about and enjoy its existence. In this case your organism needs to find food around its ecosystem, and understand how to get it. What sort of place has the kind of customers you are looking for? What kind of relationship do you seek with your customers? What kind of business growth do you want? “When you think about business or your organization from this perspective, it helps clarify what you need to do or what you can do to move the needle in the two things that impact profits (Revenue and Costs). Because, the fact is that if you fix something in one of these three areas, that may help but it’s an incomplete picture. Say you’re looking at the Order Fulfillment process and believe that you need to implement new procedures or systems in the warehouse to streamline the process and cut costs. This could work, but if you neglect the customer management aspect, then it could work at the expense of disappointing or losing customers. Or, you might implement new systems or hire new people to help with prospect and customer management, but if you’re not generating enough demand for your products and services, then your new systems and people won’t have enough prospects and customers to serve.” 3 –
Senses: The capability of reacting to stimuli in their environments. Senses are the equivalent of your businesses metrics, and by that we explicitly mean realistic ways of knowing how close we are to measurable goals.
Growth: It needs to grow. Think of people in the company as cells, first big generalist cells, then more specialized cells, Living things grow and change through the process of cell division, or mitosis. In organisms composed of more than one cell, mitosis either repairs damaged cells or replace older ones that have died. Additionally, multicellular organisms grow larger in size by increasing the number of cells in their bodies. Unicellular organisms take in nutrients and enlarge.
Reproduce: “For a species or organism to continue existing, members of the species must reproduce, either asexually or sexually. Asexual reproduction produces offspring that exactly resemble the parent organism.(4)”-Like franchises, or sexually, like the multiple business acquisitions of SamSung, Google or Facebook, constantly mixing their business genes with others, if perhaps we could imitate biology and make that experience closer to its sexual-romantic, rather than its current metaphorical equivalent.
Hive, Heard and Individual Behaviors: “Their constant efforts to take advantage of fortuitous circumstances as they arise (innovating, acquisitions, taking risks) are a primary focus
- They are always on the lookout for predators that may threaten their existence (competition)
- They look for patterns that exist in their surroundings, and take action accordingly (the premise of a SWOT)
- They identify with larger groups or herds (trade organizations, lobbyists) for protection against threats or perceived threats (legislative and/or regulative actions)(5)”
I’ll let you continue assigning metaphorical equivalents to the different aspects of your business and the role you play in it. This is not a new idea, some other articles on this metaphorical tool are listed below. The main idea behind it is that it’s a great tool to align your unconscious genius and your conscious mind when it comes to addressing your workplace. But before that I’ll leave you with Martin Reeves, a strategy consultant that learns from the inmune system, as a source for strategic models of thinking, creating comparisons between small businesses and how they are naturally wired to develop an inmune system.