“To understand ecosystems, we need to understand relationships.”

Fritjof Capra

The name “Canopy Gap” comes from a phrase used in ecology referring to the open spaces in forest canopies where sunlight allows new growth to emerge on the forest floor. Gaps are dynamic phenomena that are created, sometimes expand, and usually disappear. They are essential to the well-being of the forest ecosystem.

It has been proven that gaps create suitable conditions for rapid growth, allowing the whole ecosystem to regenerate.  Canopy gaps are caused by disturbances.  One or many trees die, making room for what is next. Metaphorically for the world, this is the time we’re in.

The Great Disturbance

We are in the midst of a great disturbance. On a global scale, we are facing issues of depleting natural resources, uncertainty, swift changes, and crumbling faith in institutions.  Meanwhile, we have breakthroughs in science, zettabytes of data, and people connecting across issues and borders at a rate unparalleled in history.

How does an organization act within this age of disruption?

Nature’s Ability to Shift

“There is a problem with shifts: They tend to happen in real time, which means that there are going to be moments of ambiguity when remnants of the old truth still hold together, even as remnants of it are falling apart.”  Youngme Moon

If we could look below the soil after a disturbance, we would see nature at work. The complex activity in this open space, called gap dynamics, refers to the patterns of plant growth that occurs following the creation of a forest gap. Thousands of organisms respond, adapt, and  take advantage of the shift.

The dynamics are revealing. While we once believed that organisms acted in their own interest to survive, increasingly scientists are beginning to understand how organisms work together. The interdependent dynamics of an ecosystem allow for multiple organisms to thrive within it.

Relational Business

“Business and human endeavors are systems…we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.” Peter Senge

In short, the best thing any organization can do during this time is to invest in relationships. Mind the gaps. Become aware of the dynamics. Explore the value. New growth does not occur in isolation. An organization thrives when the whole system – it’s people – are in sync.

How does this occur? It’s certainly, not easy, and there is no magic formula. At Canopy Gap, we believe that relationships are the network of life for business. The dynamic that exists between you, your employees, partners, and customers — your ecosystem — is what determines the long term value your organization provides.


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