Everything is connected

I have always been curious about nature, wanting to understand how everything is connected and influences each other. Therefore I was excited to find a study in which you learn just that, called Geo-Ecology.  Geo-ecology is the study of the interactions within ecosystems, between the living as well as the non-living components. How do the soil and weather influence plant growth? What influence do the plants have on soil stability and fertility? How does the food web function and what happens if one component changes? Some of the individual projects I worked on were: The influence of agroforestry on soil health; The impact of climate change on coral reefs; The impact of floating platforms on the aquatic ecosystem. What all these topics have in common, is that an understanding of the entire ecosystem, all components and their interactions, is necessary to answer these questions.

Businesses are living systems

When components interact with each other in a way that results in a behaviour that is greater than the sum of the parts, they form a system. A collection of screws, gears and pipes in a box is not a system, but if you connect these components in the right way, you can build a bicycle or any other machine.  Living Systems have an additional property: they can change their own structure, in order to adapt to changes in their environment. What we tend to think of first upon hearing "Living Systems" are ecosystems or organisms. But businesses are also living systems. For a long time, we have treated businesses like machines. This means that every time the environment changes, we have to redesign the entire machine. A very slow and energy intensive process. If instead we organise businesses like living systems, we gain the ability to organically grow and adapt to changes as they occur. Nature has had 3.8 billion years to refine the design of its living systems, therefore there is a lot we can learn from nature about living systems.

After university, I delved deep in the study of systems science, which now allows me to translate what I learned about ecosystems to the design of resilient businesses.