What Tachi Kiuchi Learned in the Rainforest
I have no idea where I got this little booklet. There's no publication date in it, but it's probably almost 15 years old. I keep it on the coffee table in my living room a) because it makes me look soooo environmentally conscious and b) because I have to keep working hard on understanding Mr. Kiuchi's message.
Tachi Kiuchi was Chairman and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric America when he received letters from elementary school children asking him to help save the rainforests. Next thing you know, he's conducting primary research in Malaysia. Here is what he learned.
Well, the first lesson actually came from his father, long before his sojourn into the forest: "Do what you want. Follow your purpose. But don't die." Kiuchi writes, Lesson One: Stay alert. Watch where you're going.
Lesson Two: I learned that saving the rainforests - in fact, saving the environment -- is more than an environmental necessity. It is a business opportunity, to use creativity and technology to substitute for trees and for resources of any kind.
I didn’t know that "a rainforest has almost no resources. The soil is thin. There are few nutrients. It consumes almost nothing." This understanding led Kiuchi to Lesson Three: The real value of the rainforest is not in the timber or pharmaceuticals. It is in the design and relationships. This becomes the most important question for today's corporate executives to answer: How can we redesign, reinvent our corporations, so that they fully harness the human mind and spirit? How can we transform our top-down hierarchies, our conformist monocultures, to engage the magical creative qualities we see in the forest?
Lesson Four: To succeed in the new economy, we must operate by the design principles of the rainforest, and of all complex natural systems. Among those principles are feedback, differentiation, cooperation and fit.
Lesson Five: The highest mission of business is to help fully develop the human ecosystem, sustainably like the rainforest, in all our diversity and complexity.
Here in Northeast Ohio, many of us are forming collaborative relationships to design ways to help organizations adapt and create prosperity. As Kiuchi says, "Only together can we make the world whole."