We spent our 2007 wedding anniversary at Yosemite National Park, viewing giant sequoias and fabulous stone vistas. We had the good fortune of a tour courtesy of a park ranger which included a discussion of how Sequoias reproduce. Each tree produces hundreds of pinecones, and each pinecone produces hundreds of seeds, but over the life of the Sequoia maybe one or two will actually grow into another tree. Our friend the ranger pointed out that such wide seed distribution was very non-capitalist – a huge investment for a small result. At the same time, that investment supports an entire ecosystem – squirrels who eat pinecones, birds who eat seeds.
In our Creativity in Business class for BGI, we did some reading around how to create an atmosphere that supports innovation, and one aspect of an innovative company is that its budgeting process is “leaky” – there are opportunities for motivated individuals to cobble together resources within the company to run small demonstration projects prior to getting official approval needed for those projects to officially be part of the budget.
In March of this year I heard Phillip Palaveev of Moss Adams talk to the CFA society about the growth of the Advisory Firm industry. He noted that while there’s been growth overall, some firms have grown significantly more than others. He made the point that for a firm to be positioned for growth, people can’t be working at 95+% productivity because when opportunity knocks at their door, they’re too busy to answer it. If you want to position yourself for opportunity and growth, you have to have slack in the system.