A forest is defined as much by the space as it is the trees: it’s an ecosystem, with every part in balance with the whole. As a system, it’s constantly in motion, from the wind that sways the branches of the trees, to the beetles scuttling around in the leafmould, from the rain falling through the canopy, to the network of roots spreading deep underground.
Last week was a writing week: i worked on the manuscript of the ‘Change Handbook’, which immersed me in thinking about Organisations as systems, interconnected, and in various states of health. The hierarchy of the organisation provides a structure, defines a space, but it’s the social system that gives us the rich strength. In the context of the Social Age, our role is more one of ecosystem management than facilities management, so an understanding of how the forest is made is valuable.
Two weeks ago i shared the notion of ‘Social Leadership Trees’, a loose metaphor for the Organisational ecosystem: with the idea that each of us stand as trees in the landscape, each different, each a connected part of a wider, complex, ecosystem. The formal organisation gives us boundaries and structure, but the social ecosystem is more organic, constantly in motion.
Some trees are tall, some young, short, but each is subject to the same ecosystem pressure: if we take too much out, if we poison the water, or pollute the air, we all suffer. Similarly, whilst the individual contribution of one person may not be great, each person does contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem and, crucially, to the vista of the forest.