King of All I see!
As I read this story to my children before bed last night, I wondered if they understood the moral and social teachings woven into the story, Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. As I read out loud in rhymes and poetic timing, it would have been easy to be captured by the rhythm and writing of Dr. Seuss. Listen close enough pay attention, and behind all the fun lies a truth that applies ever so much to the foundation of our economic and social systems.
For those of you less familiar with the story of Yertle the Turtle, Yertle for some reason is the king of the Turtles at a specific pond (There's enough meaning behind this alone to keep me writing for days). He is not happy with the status quo and decides that he wants to build a greater throne with the help of his friends and subordinates. His claim is that he is king and ruler of all that he sees, which drives him to recruit more and more turtles to stand upon each other, to build a throne that reaches as high as the heavens, It is not long before the poor turtles at the bottom whom the throne is built on can no longer burden the load, leading to the fall and demise of the whole "kingdom" of Yertle the Turtle.
The throne built was one with a very vertical orientation. It was one where some believed that they had the right to stand upon another, and as the yoke and burden grew with the stack of turtles increasing, the weight of what was demanded by the leadership, the inevitable thing happened, it all came crashing down with the kings head stuck in the mud.
In many organizations I have seen corporate structures that follows suit of that king Yertle the Turtle. We have business owners or leaders who have great vision and strive to be the best. They strive for expansion and greater profits. As much as these can sometimes have noble justifications, if the organizations structure is not correct, eventually the few people who carry the load will give out, with all the efforts, dreams and aspirations of the leadership coming to none! So many business owners and leaders then pick up the pieces to start all over, without learning the lessons from what caused the demise.
Yertle shared the human condition, we are never satisfied with what we have and want to reach higher for what we think we need. I am not saying that there is anything wrong in building a large organization that makes profit, in fact economics theories will point to these as essential for stability in society. The principle that we need to keep in mind in business leadership and growth is;
To build much higher, you first need to build wider!
In the architectural world you wouldn't dare to build the worlds tallest building without the foundations and foot print that proportionally matched, however sometimes it is hard to transfer the practical approach from one discipline and understanding to another.
In business leadership, we need to build a strong infrastructure where the burden of growth is shared more evenly. Not only should the brunt of growth be felt by the lower levels of employees that soon will gripe, complain and quit, management and leadership need to do more than just shout out commands. In an organization we all are equal, with everyone doing their share for the success of the team and organization. If the business or organization fails, it's not only the owners or shareholders that lose, the consequences are felt as ripples throughout the entire community in which the organization operates. If your organization provides milk, without your existence there would be no milk for cereal, tea or baking. The customers of the milk supplier could find new suppliers, but at what cost? Not only would the employees of the milk supplier be without work, but their customers might lay off staff while their production is down! The ripple effects the communities with less spending spiraling with more layoffs and closures. We should take heed to the mantra so commonly quoted from the musketeers,
"One for all and all for one!"