“The Origin of Species”: is Darwin relevant in Business?“The Origin of Species”: is Darwin relevant in Business? http://body-corporate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Darwin-2-948x1024.jpg 948 1024 The Body Corporate The Body Corporate http://body-corporate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Darwin-2-948x1024.jpg
Through my life I’ve shared a fascination for nature and for human organizational behavior. Only after studying both for several years did I realize the remarkable parallels between them. I would contend that the similarities are not coincidental. I believe that both are shaped and formed by the same internal drives and environmental pressures.
Charles Darwin penned “On The Origin of Species” in 1859. There have been many other major observations of our universe since then, but this scholarly work has attained iconic status in the world of natural sciences. So, it’s appropriate that this is the subject of my kick-off blog in the Body Corporate.
Why my overlapping fascination? And why start with Darwin? Well, the first clue is in the name of my venture. “Body Corporate” has two components. The “Body” part refers to a living organism. For the most part, I will use my own deep knowledge of the human body to describe and explain the remarkably similar structure and function of the second part, “Corporate” life. Of course, classical scholars reading this will clamor about the common linguistic origin to these two words. The word “corporate” comes from the Latin word corpus, meaning body! So, what I will share with you is nothing new. The ancient Greeks and Romans had perhaps already seen the similarity between nature and organized human life. We will explore commonalities between the human integumentary system (our thick skin) and the protective barriers built by large public corporations. And we will compare our evolved nervous system (including our highly developed brain), and the complex systems we build in big companies to communicate, gather intelligence, manage knowledge and make decisions.
The second reason for starting with Darwin is that he wrote about species’ adaptive responses to environmental pressure (he called them selective pressures). The fundamental internal drive in nature is procreation and perpetuation of the species. This is similar to the need to make money and grow shareholder value (for a public company), or the provision of a valuable societal need (for a service organization like a school). As the animal or corporation works to achieve these primary goals they encounter environmental pressures – often in the form of change in their ecosystem. Many business leaders will tell you that this is the source of significant sleeplessness, even if they recognize the inherent opportunity for differentiation and success. We will discuss both as we grow this community and dialogue.
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