An ecosystem may be defined as a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. These interactions, in turn are instrumental in sustaining the equilibrium present in nature. To put it simply, ecosystems are fundamental units that help primarily maintain balance in nature. Forest, mangroves and coral reefs are examples of thriving ecosystems prevalent in nature. Some scientists even believe that the whole world is an ecosystem
All ecosystems have certain characteristics. The most basic characteristic of any ecosystem is a food chain. The food chain is mainly referred to the predator-prey relationship which exists in an ecosystem. The predator feeds off the prey thus serving a dual purpose. While, the ‘predator’ receives the most basic need of any living organism; food, the species of the ‘prey’ is regulated and thus, biodiversity is maintained. While this may seem, like a pretty cruel and harsh way to maintain control over a species, the food chains in our world are a reminder to us by nature that we are all interdependent on one another for our survival.
If one were to observe human relationships and compare it to ecosystems, the similarities would be startling. Similar to the predator and prey theory, studies done over human psychology have brought to light the theory of the “the dominant and the submissive” in human relationships (which extends beyond sexual relationships). In the 1990’s, a gentleman named James F. Moore proposed the theory of a business ecosystem. He believed that in an office environment too, one cannot survive without feeding off the other.
The man was a genius. Even though his McKinsey Award-winning article was pertaining to creating a market for one’s business, his observation about predator and prey in a human environment hit bull’s eye. A few days in my office as an intern have helped me notice the ecosystem that exists within a media company. Like every ecosystem, this ecosystem, too, has a food chain. One must not mistake this food chain as being cannibalistic in nature; this food chain refers to feeding off another’s intellect and energy. To further explain my point, I would like to draw similarities to the food chain prevalent in a company to that of marine ecosystem.
We shall begin in with observing the consumers in the food chain in descending order. The CEO or the President is the apex predator in a food chain. One may compare them to sharks or orcas in an office environment. Just like their sea counterparts, they mostly roam on their own and are feared by other smaller predators. Their feats are glorified and they become ‘legends’ within the company. They become a symbol of power, strength and wisdom to those outside the food chain as well as the recipients of pure hatred and malice to those within the food chain.
The second in the hierarchy, namely the secondary consumers in a food chain consist of Executives and Managers. The consumers at this level are preyed upon by the apex predator. They exist in groups and mingle around with their own types; their likes may be compared to that of the larger fishes, eels, carps, and so on. They also roam around fearlessly among the lesser fishes and claim huge expanses of the geography as their territory, namely their cabins. Just like their sea counterparts they stick around with their kind, rarely mixing with the other species unless they are required to interact /bully them in order to ensure, the smooth functioning of the workings of the company(maintaining the biodiversity).
The third in hierarchy in consists of employees. They are the primary consumers in a food chain that are often preyed upon by the secondary consumers and (if they happen to be in big trouble) then the apex predators. An office ecosystem is generally abundant with primary consumers. It is mainly because of the members of this level that an office ecosystem functions. Just like their sea counterparts the small fishes and krill, they are considered common and are dismissed by the members belonging to the upper rung of the heirarchy. Even within the members of this level, there exists a food chain, the senior employees boss it over the junior employees and tend to disregard them for their lack of experience. One may refer to this process as intellectual cannibalism, since seniority is, in actuality, just another tag created in order to flatter egos.
At the bottom of the hierarchy are the primary producers a.k.a the most unthanked members in a food chain. While in a marine ecosystem, plankton is considered as a primary producer, in a business ecosystem, interns may be considered as their counterparts. Interns are the plankton of a corporate ecosystem. They are hardly ever given credit, (in cash or in kind). They are present all over the place and though their function is to feed the ravenous predators in the ecosystem, they are often dismissed as having lesser purpose than the bacteria floating in the environment.
Whoever said, it’s a fish eat fish world, knew what she/he was talking about. She/he was probably an intern at a media corporate too. So to wrap up, my theory, I will leave you with a thought represented through the following graphic:
When the guys on the top look down all they see is shit, and when the guys below look up, all they see are ass holes.
P.S: The opinions expressed in the article belong to the author alone and are entirely subjective