Looking at animals’ physical characteristics; it is often easy to see how they evolved to thrive in different environments among fierce competition. A cheetah; with its long, flexible spine, narrow (yet deep) chest, and a slender head indicates it is built for speed and attacking nimble prey. While lions; with significantly more muscle mass, broader shoulders, wide jaws, and social skills were built for the power needed to hunt large prey.
The exaggerated wingspan of an albatross leads to near motionless, long-distance flight. With so much lift generated from their outstretched wings, their heart rate during flight is almost the same as when resting. Meanwhile, the heart rate of a hummingbird is over 1000 bpm helping its wings beat fast enough to hover as it drinks nectar from flowers. This consumes huge amounts of energy, thus they developed a metabolism that almost immediately converts sugars in into useable forms.
Developing unique strengths not only helps avoid becoming prey, but also creates powerful advantages for sustenance and lifestyle. These animals show us how to embrace the features/qualities we are given.
Like the lions; enterprise-level businesses with many mouths to feed must look for client opportunities of a significant size or else it would be a waste of energy. They likely have a longer cycle of engagement, and include many different disciplines to secure the client. Once landed, the workload and benefits are spread more evenly over many people. The clients they ignore are then ideal for smaller, faster firms. The same is true the other direction. A leaner structure doesn’t have such stores of energy and needs projects on a more frequent basis. When projects are too big for them or not suited for their strengths, the result is a waste of precious resources.
While many businesses have evolved to embrace their unique strengths; far too many seem to be modeled after the platypus. Native only to waterways of eastern Australia; these are egg-laying mammals that are extremely awkward on land (though not much better in water) with a tail like a beaver, short legs, webbed feet, venomous stingers on back feet, fur like an otter, and a mouth like a duck. It doesn’t seem particularly adept at anything.
You might know a business that operates with a Platypus Marketing strategy. They often have one or more of the following: multiple versions of their business cards/logo; a lackluster website; non-existent social media, hap-hazard sales incentives/promotions, and plenty of inconsistencies among sales persons. While this often plagues start-ups and companies with tiny budgets; it is not at all rare to see them amongst well-funded companies.
I challenge you to take a few moments to peruse your materials and methods.
Do they reflect your unique strengths as a business?
Do they support each other and build synergy?
Either question not answered with an emphatic ‘YES!’ suggests dramatic wastes of energy. Unlike a wild animal, businesses can be active and strategic in their own evolution.