Fact: Biological organisations live longer

One of the most compelling reasons why organisations, enterprises, teams and communities should adopt biological principles is that they will live much longer if they do!


Thanks to Dinesh Tantri for pointing me to an interesting article on cnn.com way back in 1999 entitled “The organic enterprise thrives on your knowledge”

“Companies, like any species, are organic entities whose survival requires carving out a territory within a dynamic ecosystem. They are not — as some executives and consultants claim — machines that can be reengineered, reorganized or reprogrammed”

Referencing “Bionomics: Economy as Ecosystem” by Michael Rothschild, 1990, the author scorns technology companies without any long-term plan and whose “entire reason for being was to sell out to Microsoft”.

This was, as we all now know, a chillingly accurate prediction of the dot.com crash which was still a year or so away (early 2000).

Arie de Geus writing in “The Living Company” explains how even the Fortune 500 companies don’t generally make it beyond 50 years because their underlying model of operation becomes more economic than biological.

A notable exception to the 50-year rule is Du Pont which started off as a “purveyor of gunpowder” and has achieved the distinction of being one of the “world’s oldest continuously operating companies” through a mastery of continuous adaption and evolution.

So if you want to achieve longevity in your business enterprises and teams the price you have to pay is operating on biological principles like all living systems.

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I was referred to your site just today by a colleague. It appears we are in the same mindspace: Biological metaphors in management.

I will invest some time looking over your site and make contact again soon. It is good to find a fellow lateral and metaphorical thinker. You can find out more about me on the webpage for my new book, "The Organizational Zoo".
Arthur Shelley


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