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Adobe Firefly generated illustration of a network of roots and stems covering a landscape.  Beyond it lies a city, with a beautiful sunset.

We Have Our Thinking Caps...Errr... Beanies On

I am fortunate to have a son who loves to think through all sorts of puzzles with me. It makes sense - he's a biotech researcher. Although I'm not a scientist, my son and I share the family trait of endless curiosity. We tend to nerd out together, and most recently, we nerded out about systems. When I explained to him that I've been doing most of my thinking about supply chains, and overlaying those ideas with natural systems concepts. Specifically, I told him I was thinking through the weaknesses in chain structures, and the relative strength of web-and-node structures. He suggested I look up "apical meristems," which I did.

In an organic nutshell, apical meristems are rapidly dividing cells in plants. Put in the simplest terms, they are cells that exist where new buds, leaves, and root growth happen. Now, before you get the idea I'm a master gardener, I'll set the record straight. Until a few years ago, the sum total of my gardening experience consisted of staring at my grandfather's garden when my family made visits to his house. I never felt like I "got it" - this thing of gardening. Now, decades later, I have a partner who has a generations-deep affinity for growing things. Her brand of gardening leans toward the wilder, more natural side, but she can stick a broken stem into some dirt and make magic happen. I, however...not so much.

Nonetheless I'm captivated by nature. By plants. By this idea of zones of growth. There is so much for us to learn from the ways in which plants communicate, form networks, and function as systems. Laying that concept onto the landscape of businesses and supply chains, interesting ideas emerge.

Cover of the book "Regenerative Business," by Samantha Garcia.
See note following article for resources for this book.


In her book "Regenerative Business," author Samantha Garcia says "It has been shown that mycelium networks actually allow different trees to communicate with one another so that a tree in the sunlight can transfer photosynthesis through the mycelium to a tree that's in the shade and doesn't have access to sunlight." A mycelium network is a complex web of thread-like structures, produced by fungi. Mycelium networks are absolutely incredible. They connect with and extend through the environment, facilitating communication between trees and plants. They even serve as conduit for nutrient transfer between plants, fostering symbiotic relationships.

Taking hints from nature, our goals as business leaders should be to cultivate resilient and dynamic supply webs. We should aim to foster the right kinds of growth in the right amounts. The desired result is to create an environment in which there are beneficial, dynamic exchanges between parties within, and beyond industries and disciplines. Here are some of the benefits of this type of approach to growth:


  1. Fostering Innovation in Key Areas: In business, cultivating innovation can start by identifying and nurturing key areas of growth within the organization. This might involve dedicating resources to generating new ideas, products, or processes. It also might involve encouraging a culture of experimentation, and support for exploring creative solutions.
  2. Building Agile and Connected Supply Networks: It's critical that businesses establish effective communication channels and connections between suppliers, manufacturers, and business customers/distributors. Emphasizing collaboration and information-sharing within the supply chain can enhance overall efficiency, adaptability, and responsiveness.
  3. Encouraging Cross-Sector Partnerships: Just as trees in a forest share resources through mycelium, businesses can benefit from cross-sector collaboration. Encouraging partnerships and interactions with other businesses, even those in seemingly unrelated industries, can lead to innovative solutions and shared resources. This allows companies to tap into diverse perspectives, collectively addressing challenges and fostering a sense of community that goes beyond traditional industry boundaries.


Perhaps the most crucial point in all of this is that everything in nature operates within a system constantly in flux, in search of homeostasis. Just as nature has taught us, the right kinds of growth, in the right directions, utilizing the most nourishing values will ultimately result in greater stability, adaptability, and resilience.

About this newsletter: Originally published on LinkedIn, Wool in the Wild is a newsletter created by the founders of WoolTribe. At WoolTribe we are focused on offering fashion accessories created with thoughtfully curated materials, and artisanal processes. Check us out:

Note: Regenerative Business is available at many local libraries, or can be ordered through Park Road Books, an independent local bookseller in Charlotte, NC.

Cover Photo by Adobe Firefly

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