Backyard Aquaponics is a Queensland company that combines aquaculture and hydroponics in a way that each not only cancels out the negative aspects of the other, but actually uses it as nourishment. The fish tank and gravel veggie bed are linked: the fish-poo water gets used to feed the plants, which in turn clean and oxygenate the water for the happy fish. It uses 1/10 of the normal water required, the fish get less lurgies, and a patio-sized system can feed a whole family.
How cool is that? A completely symbiotic system where the sum of the two combined is greater than the sum of the two individuals.
Symbiosis is of course the key to many business relationships too: supplier/dealer, partnerships, and cross-referring affiliations with shared infrastructures to name a few. The most obvious example is the employer/employee relationship, but how often is this as healthy and maximising as it can be? The key to the symbiotic relationship is balance of power – hardly something the classic company situation is renown for. The rhino may be huge compared to the oxpecker but it still depends on it for its survival – not always the case with commoditised workforces. But what if we looked at it differently?
What most employees want is greater down time and less stress for preferably more income. What most employers want is increased revenue from better ideas, management and output. Given that only 2% of people claim to have their ideas at work, and that stress, business and mechanised outputting are major creativity killers, it would make symbiotic sense to give employees more down time in order to increase the quality and quantity of the ideas they come up with. And if this were done in an environment where the employees’ personal goals were in alignment with the company’s strategy, how powerful would that be? Many truly innovative companies recognise this and do it already. Several of Google’s key innovations have come from “20% Time” – the 20% of the working week that the engineers are free to do and play with what they want. They are free to pootle around in their own way on things that interest them (and who wouldn’t want to be paid for doing that??), and the company gets an occasional massive breakthrough in return.
So ‘wasted’ time becomes the key to company innovation. And the time ‘waster’ is refreshed, energised and more engaged than ever.
Corporate aquaponics – now where’s the downside in that?