Learning from nature — seeing the forest through the trees

Belinda Dong
November 1, 2023

People commonly mistake the phrase "You cannot see the forest for the trees" and instead say Seeing the forest through the trees. What if we ignored the cliché statement and use that misspoken phrase as a lesson that leaders can apply to the way they conduct business? I think we could learn a thing or two from forests and the trees that make them.

Every tree in a forest is different. Some are tall and skinny — others short and wide. Some have leaves all year round, while others go bare in the winter. Some trees bear fruit, while others' branches provide a nice place to sit. Regardless of size or shape, each tree plays a crucial role in a healthy ecosystem. Like trees, every employee at your company is unique. Some are big-picture thinkers, others are detail-oriented. Some are extroverted, and others are more reserved. These skills, abilities, and perspectives make our companies diverse and strong.

So, how does one build a company culture that fosters a healthy forest (company) and encourages and honors the uniqueness of each tree (employee)? Through a collaborative and communicative workplace.

Finding the balance between productivity and celebration

A forest is more than just a collection of trees. It's a complex, interconnected ecosystem where every tree contributes to the overall health and vitality of the forest. The same goes for a business. It's not just about individuals doing their jobs. Everyone works together, contributing their unique skills and perspectives to drive the business forward. 

Unique ideas, hard work, and diversely skilled employees are good — but they're even better when individuality is celebrated because it's believed to make the company even greater. Just as a forest thrives when all its trees are healthy and flourishing, a business thrives when all its employees feel valued and empowered. So, let's make sure everyone feels like they're a crucial part of the team, because they are! 

A thriving forest is made up of thriving trees 

There are plenty of ways to build a work culture that honors and develops the trees and the forest. Zest AI has built our workplace out of many values and ideals, but cultivating that balance of productivity and celebration comes down to fostering collaboration and good communication. 

Here are some key learnings:

  1. Empower individual growthencourage employees to pursue personal and professional development. Provide opportunities for skill-building, mentoring, and career advancement, enabling each individual to thrive and contribute effectively.
  2. Cultivate inclusivity embrace diversity and inclusivity as essential components of your corporate culture. Encourage different perspectives and backgrounds to enrich the collective experience.
  3. Lead by example leadership should exemplify the values and behaviors expected within the organization. Leaders should balance their focus on individual team members and the broader company mission.

By taking a leaf out of nature's book, we can learn to value each team member's uniqueness and understand the power of working together. A forest is not great because of one or two trees. A few trees don't make a forest. When we recognize and value the unique contributions of each employee while aligning them with a shared vision, businesses grow a culture that honors both the trees and the forest, leading to sustained success and a fulfilling workplace for all.

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