My last blog discussed the concept of “organizational structure”—the typical hierarchical structure of organizations and corporations that many of us are familiar with in our professional lives. Organizational structures are not limited to our jobs, though. Families have organizational structures. Sports teams have organizational structures. We, as human beings, organize ourselves to get stuff done and function effectively.

At the end of the blog post, I posed a question to get us thinking about our role on Earth:  if the Earth is an organization, what is its mission and organizational structure?

Determining a mission for Earth is a tricky endeavor. I think most of us will agree that we want our lives to be happy and fulfilled. There are varying components to “happy” as well as “fulfilled”—but at minimum we need food, and shelter and, I would contend, a quality of life that includes love, health, and spiritual and intellectual nourishment. And for most (if not all) of those needs to be fulfilled, we need the rich resources of the Earth.

So how do we successfully fulfill that mission?

Organizational structures, at their essence, are designed to fulfill the entity’s mission by organizing its members in a way that balances specialization and coordination. For example, in a corporate environment, specialized decisions by the finance department must take into consideration the effect of that decision on all departments. We absolutely require specialized skills and informed actions, but those actions need to be coordinated across the entire organization to ensure no major harm is done to the organization as a whole.

Nature is full of inspiring illustrations of a beautiful balance between specialization and coordination. Symbiosis—from the latin “sym” and “bio” meaning “to live with”—describes a relationship between two organisms where at least one (and often both) organisms benefit from the relationship. There are three main types of symbiosis: mutualism (benefits both), commensalism (benefits one, but does no harm to the other), and parasitism (benefits one while doing some harm to the other, but rarely does it kill its host).

Yesterday, a bee caught my eye because it completely disappeared into a flower in my backyard. It was searching for the sweet nectar within the flower, covered in pollen that must be moved to the male component of the plant in order for the plant to reproduce. Happy bee, happy flower. Symbiotic examples abound in nature. Buffalo and their ride-along companions, the red-billed oxpecker, have a magnificent relationship wherein the oxpecker not only rids the buffalo of parasites and other pests while it receives nourishment, but also makes a hissing noise when it sees predators approaching, warning the buffalo of danger. Almost all trees have a companion fungus that provides the tree with nutrients while it draws life-sustaining sugar from the tree. Like the buffalo, elephants and other large animals often have birds riding atop—the birds benefit from the insects stirred up as the large animals lumber along. I often wonder if there is also value in the the companionship; I remember the amazing race horse, Seabiscuit, who wasn’t happy and calm unless his friend, the goat, was nearby.

Without human interference, the Earth seems to be pretty good at organizing itself to simultaneously benefit all creatures. It’s an amazing and inspiring web of relationships that—barring any catastrophic occurrences such as a meteor—seems to function fully, beautifully, and in-balance. Each species has its role. Together they create a system of jaw-dropping effectiveness.

A lot can be learned from nature. And many innovative individuals have created products and services and solutions that work in tandem with nature—showing us that living symbiotically is possible. And quite simply, that’s what being ecofluent is all about: creating an organizational structure for our Earth that values all members and takes care of them all, including us. Not mutually exclusive, but mutually beneficial.

So spend wisely. And kindly. Be ecofluent.

About the Author:

The idea behind Ecofluent is simple, but powerful.
Individual choices can change our world.

 

One Comment

  1. BobbuBrowne / 05/02/2017 at 11:07 am /Reply

    Hello! Cool post, amazing!!!

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