Lesson from the Aspen Tree: Power of Collaboration

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At the heart of the benefit corporation is putting people front and center. This can mean customers, employees and key stakeholders. Collaborating with these groups is not only a good idea to boost morale, but it makes great business sense as you gain new perspectives. 

Which brings us to the perfect metaphor for collaboration: the Aspen tree.

The Aspen tree uniquely connects through its robust root system with every other aspen tree in its vicinity- some over 40 feet away. That is what we call collaboration … sharing a collective strength and resiliency that can overcome stresses and challenges like disease and fire.

Here are some other facts:  

  • Aspen trees are located throughout the world and Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is the most widely dispersed tree in North America. It is found growing in the high mountains of central Mexico, as well as in mountainous regions as far north as the Arctic Circle.

LESSON: Adaptability

  • Some of the first Native Americans to arrive in the United States used the leaves of the Aspen to treat swollen joints, headaches and burns. Meanwhile, parts of the bark were consumed to alleviate stomach ailments and urinary tract infections.

LESSON: Versatility

  •  Their root systems are connected and a part of a colony, sending up new trunks as older trunks die off above ground

LESSON: Connectedness (teamwork) for Survival

  • Quaking aspen colonies are virtually impossible to kill. Individual stems can be destroyed by humans, wildlife, and disease, but the underground root system is resistant to almost all these external circumstances. 

LESSON: Resiliency through the collective

  • When an aspen tree dies, chemical signals from the tree to the roots stimulate new sprouts to start growing. Through this regrowth, an aspen clone usually lives much longer than its individual trees.

LESSON: Together a legacy can be created

  • Given the Aspen colony is one system, they help other trees in the grove. “If a tree 30 feet away is thirsty, the trees where water is more abundant, will work in unison to pass water through the root system to the tree that needs it. If another tree is lacking in certain nutrients or minerals, these will be passed through the root system from one tree to the one in need," said Gail Lynn Goodwin of InspireMeToday.com. “

LESSON: Generosity and sharing serves all

Like the Aspen grove, we are all connected, sharing and collaborating in the spirit of “It takes a village to raise a child”. Together we can accomplish things we cannot do alone. Together we can support one another and thrive as benefit corporations.

Here's to the aspen tree and power of collaboration!