Compassion, Cacao and Corporate Culture

fertile culture

“Dark chocolate brown rich soil”

The first two words possibly have you more excited than the last three. However, many of us earthy types who love to dig our hands into our vegetable gardens, or who have walked in pristine indigenous forests, possibly find soil as appealing to our senses, as we would dark chocolate. We know the potential of these soils, and we see the evidence when we dig out fresh carrots or stand in awe of the biodiversity across our planet, albeit under threat.

The basis of productive soils is their foundation, and unlike a building, the foundational structure needs to be constantly fed by sticks, leaves, insects, animals, carbs, sugars and carbon. Well-fed soil leads to diversity, growth and healthy plant life.

In good soil structure, plants safely spread their roots and hold fast in strong winds. Water softly soaks in deeply causing a vacuum to allow oxygen rich air to flow gently through the soil. The oxygen feeds fungi (that absorbs carbon) and nourishes bacteria for wriggly anthrapods and namatodes to feast upon. In turn, they create rich nutrients for plants to absorb as they continue to grow.  This ecosystem depends on and looks after “the other” and achieves great results.

The basis of productive companies with a strong organisational culture is also their foundation, and unlike their buildings, the foundational structure is constantly fed by great leaders, great followers, a diverse team, a shared purpose, vibrant culture, great experiences, hard work, and a compassion and understanding, for and of, one another. Well-fed organisations lead to creative thinking, growth, and healthy people.

In good organisational culture, people feel safe to share their unique value and stay committed in tough times. Good energy is contagious and sustainable and flows gently through the organisation. The energy feeds individual creativity for each other to leverage from and leads to innovative ideas as the organisation continues to grow. This ecosystem depends on and looks after “the other” and achieves great results.

Just as our farms and our forests need fertile soil, so do our organisations. It is called organisational culture.   They need a variety of inputs from great leaders to allow great followers to emerge with innovation and energy. Our narrow-minded focus on the bottom-line has provoked a monocultural and profit-driven mentality.  The result:  We fertilise with the wrong chemicals, we dictate with myopic thinking, we compact our soil and our thinking so that water, air and good energy can’t penetrate.  We also ignore diversity and plant one crop year in and year out, we think in monotones, and we suffocate the precious pollinators and exuberant employees that exist to initiate growth. An unhealthy organisational culture will result in sub optimal performance, high staff turnover and a declining ability to achieve desired results.

It’s true.  Both the earths soil and its people are crying out for support.  Slowly, probably far too slowly, we are waking up to reality. Regenerative farming and climate change policies are emerging, as are new styles of compassionate and experiential leadership. We have to look after each other.  We need healthy soils and healthy organisations and we must acknowledge the importance of what each micro-organism requires to make its greatest contribution to our world.

Just imagine. Poor soil means no cacao plants and that means no dark chocolate.