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Integrated Business Planning: Lessons from Nature

When we were growing up in India, one of the popular learnings at school were the set of poems called Sumathi Satakam. One of the poems that comes to mind is about ants taking on a larger animal. Nature has several such examples of smaller animals taking on larger animals and winning too. Sometimes even against nature (ever seem ants forming a floatilla on water?)

I relate this to present day business scenario of industry leaders becoming ever larger and ever so formidable, while smaller players are getting into increasingly smaller lifecycles. Even the threat of large global players entering into new geographies that already have local leaders is causing panic among the local industry. May be there is a solution to this situation – may be these smaller players need to come together as ants do against a larger animal. 

This coming together in nature of smaller animals seems to also have some patterns. I bet when a snake attacks an ant hill, the ants would probably not have had an attack forecast. I bet they wouldn’t have even had scenario planning / playbooks. But how they individually react, how they are motivated, how they communicate this attack is what helps them get a chance to win. 

In modern business, I think technology can enable emulating these patterns. I think collaboration should go beyond avoiding the age-old bull whip effect and into building competitive advantage.

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