Unusual Bedfellows » Mind Tools Blog

Unusual Bedfellows

October 17, 2014


Have you ever found wisdom in unlikely places?

When my daughter was young, one of her favorite books was Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson.

The book tells the story of a friendship between a small hermit crab, an anemone and a bristleworm.

At first, the crab is reluctant to share his new home but, when danger threatens, he comes to realize that their symbiotic relationship benefits all three of them when they work together.

In business, we also find some unusual bedfellows. You may not imagine that a global carpet tile manufacturer and the Zoological Society of London have a great deal in common. But, through their Net-Works venture, they have successfully established a supply chain for recycling discarded fishing nets, which would otherwise pollute ecosystems in developing countries.

Sadly, collaborations like these are rare. Many business models become so focused on beating or eliminating the competition that they forget these lessons from nature.

Our article on The Value Net Model looks at some suggestions from Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff’s book on Co-Opetition about ways of working with your competition to make everyone stronger and more successful. Read it here.

You can also learn more about building success in our articles on Strategic AlliancesDeveloping Your Strategy, and Critical Success Factors

Question: What “lessons from nature” do you use in your approach to business? Share your tips, here.

2 thoughts on “Unusual Bedfellows

  1. YolandeMT wrote:

    Elephants sometimes live in fairly arid areas in Namibia and Botswana. The younger elephants learn from the older ones how to find water and where ‘known’ watering holes are. However, they also know how to dig in a riverbed to find water if existing holes run dry. My lesson? Learn from those who have gone before you; but also be able to rely on your own instinct & knowledge when the situation calls for it.

    1. Ruth Hill wrote:

      I love it, Yolande! What a great example of a “lesson from nature.”

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