By Greg D’Amico, an EO East Tennessee member and CEO of Efficience, a software solutions provider.
Back in February, a few of us from the office went to visit our other office in India. This was one of the most productive trips I’ve seen in a while, as we added several people to our staff, experienced tremendous sharing on project improvement, and really engaged our R&D team for the first time. Outside of the office, we Westerners had the pleasure of enjoying our first game of Cricket.
I was thinking all along that this trip really couldn’t get much better, but then my team and I took a little road trip to a very unique community called Auroville. Auroville came to be in February of 1968, when some 5,000 people representing 124 nations came to India and participated in a ceremony that would be the start of a new town. Each person contributed soil from their homeland as a symbol of unity, that Auroville would be a place where people “of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.” The ceremony was held under a Banyan tree.
At first glance, a Banyan tree just looks like a bunch of trees, beautifully and carefully placed to grow together. Looks can be deceiving, however, as the Banyan tree is one single, very large tree. Here’s how it works: The tree’s branches grow out, but as they continue to grow out laterally, new roots grow out from the branches and down to the earth to support additional growth. The new roots can be so thick that they appear to be separate trees. It’s simply a beautiful sight to behold, and a perfect location for the unity ceremony.
I saw the growth of the Banyan tree as a great analogy to business. Building anything, whether it’s a business or a house, requires a foundation. What many companies experience, however, is that their foundation cannot support their growth, causing them to fall. The reason the Banyan tree doesn’t fall is because it continues to add to its foundation as it grows.
Good businesses are built with several levels of support that push information up and down the hierarchy. Without a good foundation to support those levels, the flow is disrupted and bad information can be shared, usually resulting in bad decisions. If you’re in the business world, you’ve probably experienced this in some form or fashion. Small things can usually be corrected, but bigger issues can easily lead to business failure. For this reason, having the right people and the right processes in place is vital to creating a strong foundation. As your business grows, so do your people and your processes.
After doing a little more research on the Banyan tree, I found that in the ancient Gujarati language, the word “Banya” translates to “grocer or merchant.” Long ago, Hindu merchants would apparently conduct business under Banyan trees because of the shade they provided.
Can your business grow outward and upward like the Banyan tree? Do you have the layers of foundation, people and processes to support that growth?