I’m happy to present our new graphic blog series, featuring the six transformations of finance that form the core of The Nature of Investing. These ideas have emerged from the six sets of principles of biomimicry – the natural guides to life itself. When taken together, these six evolutions illuminate a path towards investing that is reconnected, resilient and regenerative, in service to life.
Our third transformation is From Maximized to Optimized, which reflects the natural concept of integrating development with growth.
In human systems, and especially in human businesses, we often focus on growth – and in general, the underlying assumption is, the more the better. Our business meetings – and even our nonprofit meetings – are full of concepts like “scalability”. The intent behind these discussions is not a bad one: we are trying to explore the potential of an idea, or a product, or an organization. But instead of examining multiple dimensions of success or impact, we tend to focus just on growth. Even worse, sometimes it’s just revenue growth, or earnings growth, or numbers of “xyz” – things we can easily count. Single dimensions.
Compare these simplistic “how much” discussions with the more complete idea of “how”. We all recognize that there can be healthy growth and unhealthy growth – you can gain 20 pounds because you’re having a baby, or because you’ve eaten a lot of cheeseburgers. Growth in and of itself is neither good nor bad; it’s how you get there that counts.
In natural systems and organisms, growth is visibly intertwined with development of all the supporting infrastructure needed to sustain it. Bees do not rush to build the biggest hive possible; they use modular construction, building in sync with the size and needs of the colony. A tree does not shoot out new limbs at random; they are balanced by growth in the structural and nutritional support systems of the trunk, roots and soil. As the adage says, “Trees do not grow to the sky,” and it’s not because they lack ambition.
For a more complete discussion of this principle, please see our recent post in Scientific American, “Why Wall Street Needs Remedial Biology”.
If we incorporate this natural principle into our own decision making…
* With great thanks to the Guts and Glory team for the fantastic design work!