The natural world has produced an incredible array of different kinds of babies. It seems as though every species has a different process for giving birth, depending on their environment. Elephants, as we’ve discussed, give birth to one BIG baby every 95 weeks. Then there are turtles that lay hundreds of eggs on the ocean shore in shallow sandy pits. Why are we talking about elephants and turtles and reproduction? Stick with me for a minute.
Companies, like the animal kingdom, also have different ways of reproducing themselves, their leadership and their products. Some companies like elephants, have one massive idea, nurturing it to maturation in relative secrecy. Some companies have tiny little vulnerable ideas every single day. When elephant companies give birth to new ideas, they come out the size of fully mature cows. When turtle companies give birth to new ideas, the birth takes place in relative secrecy and in a few short hours, there are only tracks in the sand to give testimony to what happened in the middle of the night.
In a way, it’s just a different answer to the same question,
How do we reproduce ourselves in the safest, most reliable way?
The elephant’s answer is to have one massive baby and to hold onto it as long as possible. The turtle’s answer is to have as many babies as frequently as possible so that as many of them as possible survive. Baby elephants are 528 times larger than baby sea turtles. Baby elephants are 300 times more like to survive. Female elephants will have 12 calves in a lifetime. Female sea turtles will lay around 2000 eggs in a lifetime. Female elephants will have 3-4 babies survive to adulthood in their lifetimes, sea turtles will have 2. It’s two very different approaches to the same problem with very similar results, though elephants are almost 2 times more reproductive than sea turtles.
So, what is the best way for organizations to reproduce themselves, their leadership and their products? When Steve Jobs took over at Apple, he brought focus to Apple’s product line to huge success. Elephant.
When Prego wanted to capture the pasta sauce market, it created more varieties than I thought was possible. They went from so many varieties to the nineteen we have today. Turtle.
Google used to be a search engine. But what they really were was a data magnet for all the data in the world. Today, their products include an office suite, cloud computing, Nest IoT devices, Fitbit, Computers, operating systems, headphones… you name it – 271 products in all, and they even have a pretty cool merchandise store. Turtle.
So, what kind of reproducer are you?
– Chad Verity, CEO