Looking Out Into the Forest: See What Really Matters


The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.

— Theodore Roosevelt

By Rose Epperson

We spent so much time looking inward in our organizations.  Bogged down with the daily grind – I think it’s time we look out at our environment and experience the external forces that we work with. Let’s take an appreciative survey of what is going on in our business community, how we collaborate with likeminded businesses and measure if it really matters to our customers (both external and internal i.e. employees). It’s all part of the big picture – “forest for the trees” view.

In nature, in order to have a balanced ecosystem, the optimal situation is to have a diversified species palate whether it be in your city on your street or in your yard.   Urban Forestry research suggests that the healthy forest has a variety of species. Many cities have removal and replacement programs that are developed and followed to insure we don’t have a monoculture forest. We should probably apply the same way of thinking for the health of our organization. Taking a big picture view of what’s going on outside our organization is an important part of our forest for the trees series.

Earlier this year we wrote about discovering the “why” of our organizations If you recall I stated that our true “why” can be defined as what makes us tick – purpose, cause, belief  and how sharing the “why” with the people that you trade with, as well as your bankers or investors and your clients can pave a wider path for success. How do you use your why in marketing your products and/or services? And in retrospect what made you choose your bank, brand of vehicle or fleet or even the supply store that you trade with?  What brings you back there?  Do they remember your name and you theirs? How much do you know about them and how would learning more augment your business relationship?  These are all questions to reflect on when looking outside of the organization and establishing and building collaborative relationships.

The concept of relationship based management is really not a new one but it does take us out of our comfort zone. In this type of management style you focus on building strategically important relationships inside and outside your organization.   Strong relationships can stimulate Innovation, increase flexibility, reduce costs and allow companies to respond quickly to change as well as address quality issues in the service world.  A good reputation based on sound relationships with customers and communities leads to companies attracting and keeping the best employees – it’s full circle. Enhanced loyalty and support from employees, customers and business partners translates into bottom-line profits and long-term growth.  According to sociologist and author, Ann Svendsen, “if we look at the most successful companies in North America today, many have established very powerful relationships with their stakeholders that are governed by deep social values for example Federal Express is known for its success in building employee commitment and loyalty while Ikea excels in establishing profitable relationships with suppliers and customers based on trust and true interdependence. British Petroleum builds strong community relationships.”  Building great relationship isn’t just for the large mega corporations – it complements our smaller organizations as well.

Building lasting business relationships really follows the same principles as our personal relationships.  Establish a foundation by sharing what you are all about: what you stand for.  Your corporate values provide a clear vision of what your relationships can become.  Collaboration skills are essential to creating transparent and healthy relationships.   Find mutual benefit and use it to build on the foundation of the relationship.  Take the time to investigate and understand the needs all the parties involved in collaborative action.  Create a win-win scenario.

In my family’s tree care company, we always say anyone can trim your trees but our company provides total care.  Excellent service, complimented by smart technology, performed by professionals who live in the communities where they work.  Pride of workmanship and community service are evident in all aspects of the operation.    What’s your total care package? And how are you leveraging that to keep your business on the forefront?

Take a step back – and look out – the view is amazing.