Understanding Your Workplace Ecosystem

Ecosystem diagram.jpg

Let’s go back to high school biology class and think about ecosystems - complex environments made up of many interdependent and interconnected parts.

The illustration here shows an ecosystem along a riverbank, with the sun, trees, plants, water, birds, insects, bacteria, and so on. Each of these parts has its own special role.

  • The trees provide shade, shelter, and produce oxygen.
  • The water serves as a home for aquatic creatures, hydrates many animals, and nourishes plants.
  • The termites break down old logs.

And on and on and on. These roles are not only necessary for the survival of that part; the role each part plays makes an essential contribution to the health and functioning of the whole system, and these parts depend on, and are dependent on, one another to thrive.

  • Birds and other small animals live in the trees.
  • Sunlight is needed for trees and plans to undergo photosynthesis and produce oxygen.
  • Termites and other insects to break down rotting logs to become soil nutrients.

Ecosystems are Fragile!

All the parts of an ecosystem fit together in a particular way. But what happens if something changes? What is all the water dries up, or if there are no more termites? What happens if there are too many birds and not enough trees? Even a small change in one of these parts can disrupt the whole balance, resulting in grave changes to or even destruction of the ecosystem.

Okay, enough Biology 101. This is a blog about workplace efficiency, productivity, and professional development!

Let’s think about your workplace as an ecosystem.

  • What is the mission/purpose of your workplace?
  • What are the parts (people, equipment, facilities, etc.)?
  • What is the role or function of each part?
  • What are the relationships between the different parts?
  • What does each part and relationship contribute toward the overall mission?
  • What happens if there is no more, not enough, or too much of one part? Or if the relationship changes between two parts? How does this affect the whole?

This way of looking at your business or workplace is called systems thinking, and it lies at the heart of what AIS Collaborations does. Understanding all the different parts and their impact on one another enables you detect why certain problems arise, or why certain seemingly small issues can turn into major crises.

Give it a try and let me know what you find in your office ecosystem!