Business Like a Banyan Tree
In February, a few of us from headquarters went to visit our other office in India. This was one of the most productive business trips I’ve experienced in a while— we added several people to our staff, shared tips on project management and really engaged our research and development team for the first time. What’s more, we enjoyed our first game of Cricket!
Thinking this trip couldn’t get any better, we decided to visit a small community called Auroville. Auroville was founded in 1968 when 5,000+ people representing 124 nations arrived in India and participated in a ceremony that would be the start of a new town. Each person contributed soil from their homeland as a symbol of unity, for it would be a place where “people of all countries can live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.” The ceremony was held under a Banyan tree.
At first glance, a Banyan tree looks like a bunch of trees carefully placed to grow together. Looks can be deceiving, though, as the Banyan tree is one single, very large tree. The tree’s branches grow out, but as they continue to grow laterally, new roots extend from the branches and down to the earth to support additional growth. The new roots can be so thick that they appear to be separate trees. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, and a perfect location for the unity ceremony.
I saw the growth of the Banyan tree as a great analogy to business. Regardless of your industry, building a business requires a proper foundation. What many companies come to experience, however, is that their foundation cannot support their growth, ultimately causing them to fall. The reason why the Banyan tree doesn’t fall is because it continues to add to its foundation as it grows. Every good business is built with several levels of support that push information up and down the hierarchy. Without a good foundation to support those levels, the flow is disrupted and a breakdown can occur.
Looking at these majestic trees, I realized the importance of pursuing growth from the ground up. As your business grows, so do your people and processes. Having the right ones in place from the start is vital to creating a strong foundation. Standing before the trees, I wondered: Can my company grow outward and upward like the Banyan tree? Do I have the layers of foundation, people and processes to support that growth? I returned home with new insights into management, and a reminder that my business is only as strong as the people and policies that guide it.
Greg D’Amico is the CEO of Efficience. E-mail Greg at