Circular Teams

Circular Teams

It is amazing how ideas emerge! I was researching for the different plant metaphors that people suggested for growth such as “Toyota is like green tomato”, leaders “are like dandelions” and the “Banyan tree”., or like or more like the” bamboo Chinese tree” and other metaphors. I shall be sharing them in a future post. While doing the research it puzzled me how plants recycle their wastes to be the nutrients for other plants. This observation has inspired the idea of circular economy. Rather than follow the linear model of Make-Use-Dispose upgrade to a circular one of different 3- Rs: (Refurbish- Reuse- Recycle). This thinking is establishing roots and is being firmly developing. It is, in emulation of plants, why not have human ideas and experiences are recycled as raw materials for more enriched ideas and experiences? Why not have the circular teams to recycle their ideas and expertise so that new lean thinking may develop?

A circular economy is an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible, renewable energy sources are used and systems thinking is at the core.


Ideas started flowing in my mind and new questions emerged accordingly. One idea that is wasted or neglected idea maybe the source feed for generating new ideas. In addition, the idea of circular teams sparkled in front of my eyes.

For circular teams to form they need to grow like trees and plants do. Trees first develop their root systems for they sense that the roots even though are underground they support the tree with water and the nutrients for the tree to grow with enough strong bark to carry the tree. The roots spread in many directions in search for food. Some roots may even find their way in the cracks of rocks in search for food. The roots have a symbiotic relationship with the fungi. The tree provides the fungi with sugar and the tree may use the roots of the fungi as “fiber optics” to communicate electrical signals to neighboring trees warning them of forthcoming risk from hostile insects as well as extracting needed nutrients. This relationship is strong because of the lasting need for this collaboration.

Likewise, teams and organizations may only grow if they have deep roots of knowledge to collect and circulate. Knowledge is what feeds the roots and is the source of different nutrients. Likewise, teams need to have different knowledge from different sciences and ideas to grow well.

The variety of the members of a team should be a cohesive force rather than a repulsive one for every member of the team realizes the need for others’ “knowledge nutrients” to grow as a tree does.

Some trees have hollow barks. It is in these hollows these trees host plants so that when they die their nutrients are passed through the hollow barks to the “grassroots” workers to absorb. Old employees may have lost the edge of new technologies, but they store great experiences that they must be willing to pass downward to the roots to enrich them with new nutritional ideas. Self-renewing of ideas, of employees and of products are what keeps a business antifragile. These old employees have the stored experiences to inoculate old ideas and generate new ones.

Like trees that keep changing their leaves to manufacture food so are the trees of teams. They need to change some of the employees or add new ones so that they may keep their production quality high. It is self-renewal of not just part of the workers or the “upper-ground workers”, but also the grassroots workers so that the whole team might grow.

We plant trees or plants along with other companion plants. This is a two-edged approach for they not all have mutual symbiosis to grow. For example, some companions plants help improve the health and vigor of the tomato plants, some improve the tomato flavor, and other companion plants are used to repel and deter insects. Select team members who have the character and values to work with others; otherwise, the prevailing culture becomes the unhealthy soil to grow new seeds of ideas, or that the harvested fruits of ideas may even lead to late blights, as is the case in growing tomatoes with cauliflower, for example.

Not all plants make “good teammates’. Back to tomatoes, Eggplant, peppers, and potatoes: These plants are in the nightshade family like tomatoes and are all susceptible to early and late blight, which will build up in the soil and get worse each year.

The roots of teams must grow in a soil of values. Knowledge, beliefs, and void of employees who just are the cause of late blights that may intoxicate the collective team work. These are important issues if we thrive to form circular teams so that no waste will be discarded; in contrast, it shall be the feedstock for greater ideas.

It is circular collaboration that is based on trust and solid core values that keep this circulation going in rounds with the flow of information and ideas circulating from roots to the top of the {team tree) and back.

A good example of the need for circular teams and circular ideas is sticky notes. The adhesive that was prepared as glue for cartoon boxes failed. The product was about to be discarded. Somebody then asked an opportunity-widening question “if it is not good for cartoon boxes can’t it be useful for something else”. The question circulated and the answer was to make the sticky notes. No waste of ideas, but by diverging our thinking they could be the gems we are looking for. The adhesive has a microsphere structure, which meant it could be removed without leaving residue and ready for reuse. . For more ideas, see this reference

Other examples of fascinating ideas to transform their trash into beauty are “65 upcycling ideas to transform your old stuff”. There are some genius ideas to transform trash creatively to useful ideas. Waste is indeed a cheap resource for creative applications.

E-waste is a rapidly field of increased interests. The World Economic Forum has repeatedly highlighted the risks and opportunities in such wastes. Humankind’s insatiable demand for electronic devices is creating the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Some forms are growing exponentially. The United Nations calls it a tsunami of e-waste. “Get it right and we will see a lot less of our precious minerals, metals and resources dumped into landfill. The benefit to industry and workers as well as the health of people and the environment could be enormous. It is crucial we swiftly employ a more circular vision in this sector”.  More than 120 countries have an annual GDP lower than the value of our growing pile of global e-waste. See also this presentation for more information. For plastic wastes that grow exponentially see this presentation. My question is how many pioneering ideas end in waste to convert these wastes into financial and environmental profits?

If we realize that 96% of innovations ended in complete failure, we may realize how much efforts ended in the wastebasket. So much waste not to be circulated.

                                                                    One possibility for the 3- Rs of teams

I hope you to enjoy the video blow on “The Invention of the Cardboard Box”

Ideas are trees-like. They are subject to pruning, inoculations, building symbiotic relationships, having roots, fertilization of ideas, branching of ideas, blossoming of ideas and as trees talk to each other. Make your ideas talk to each other.

How trees secretly talk to each other - BBC News


Communication is essential for forming circular teams. Hopefully, roots of ideas talk to each other similarly.

I invite the readers of this post to share their wisdom.



Angelika Pollnick Jul 20, 2020 · #47

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#45 @Jerry Fletcher

Your words are delightful. Thank you dear friend

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Jerry Fletcher Jun 4, 2020 · #45

DR. Ali, Delightful!

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Million thanks to readers to make the following notification from LinkedIn possible:

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Fay Vietmeier Jun 3, 2020 · #43

#42 @Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee
Well I trust the One with the yardstick '~)
He knows the measure of me ... and thee ;~)

He is also the Master-Gardener ;~)
His pruning is intended to bring forth new fruit (creativity ... increased capacity)
We are never closer to Him that when he is pruning us ;~)

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#41 @Fay Vietmeier

You are amazing with your insights dear Fay.

Yes, fresh eyes to old ideas could mean finding new use, new rebirth and so our creativity capacity as it expands.

You are a broken fractal my friend. This means that no measurement shall be correct in measuring your fractal spiritual power.

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Fay Vietmeier Jun 3, 2020 · #41

@Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee
"Old items are like old IDEAS" ... and "old" people
We are all subject to cyclical usages ;~)

The thought occurs to me that 100 people (for example) can look at an "old" idea (or even an "old item")
And there might flow out 100 new applications ... tweaks to the old
Remarkable is the human mind and its creative ability

Creativity is like capacity ... unbound ... unchained ... without measure
"With the measure you use ... it will be measured to you" ~ Matthew 7
Now this is speaking about judging but ... I see the application to creativity & capacity

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#39 @Fay Vietmeier and @Franci🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

SO, old items are like old ideas- they are both subject to cyclical usages

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