The Brazil Nut Effect: Strategic Relationships

If you missed the first 2 posts, I’ve been discussing one of the Rainforest High Growth Factors – The Brazil Nut Effect.The Brazil Nut Effect conveys the story of strategic relationships; the kind of relationships that can make or break a business. This last discussion focuses on the vital partnerships that make for a profitable enterprise.

Symbiotic relationships are defined by productive, purposeful action. One party provides what another party needs and vice versa forming a mutually beneficial exchange. One example I saw of this in the rainforest was rather startling. During a hike, I noticed one particular seemingly benign plant reaching across the narrow pathway. Our guide cautioned us not to touch the plant, and then illustrated why. A quick brush of his hand against the plant resulted in an immediate convergence of ferocious ants. I say ferocious because they bit him faster than he could remove his hand, even though he knew what was coming. The ants were performing stealth protection for the plant as they were on the hunt for food. This was a mutually beneficial relationship; the ants gobbled up butterflies and insects that landed on the plant and the plant got protection from pests.

An example of this in the business world would be an IT professional I know that had a need for office space. One of his clients is a realtor that had need of computer-related services and had a number of vacant offices. Exchanging value for value, rather than dollars, the computer specialist got office space in a trade for services and the real estate firm got something they needed by trading something they had available that wasn’t producing income. Another example would be a building contractor who constantly refers business to a roofer and in turn, the roofer gets calls for work that requires a building contractor and he in turn refers the contractor. Both of these examples illustrate a win-win situation.

The last type of relationship is called Mutualistic. This represents the biggest commitment of all. This is when two parties really can’t survive without each other. The current economic environment has resulted in several large automakers ceasing production. In turn, local dealerships were forced to close because their livelihood was totally dependent on the manufacturer.

The Brazil Nut Effect is just one of many wealth secrets of the rainforest; this effect defines the critical nature of strategic relationships in business. If it’s true that no man is an island, then that translates into the fact that businesses can function optimally only when integrally involved with other enterprises. If focus is only on profit in a selfish single-minded way, with disregard for the bigger picture, the outcome is likely to produce predictably negative repercussions.

Parasitic, opportunistic, symbiotic and mutualistic relationships all play a role in health of a dynamic ecosystem and a thriving business. A trip into the rainforest is chock full of enlightenment, innovation and inspiration.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Coaching, Leadership, Rainforest Business Institute

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