According to the biology dictionary, a symbiosis is an ‘evolved interaction or close living relationship between organisms from different species, usually with benefits to one or both of the individuals involved.’
There are different types of symbiosis relationships. Some examples include: Mutualism is when both parties benefit. Parasitism is when one benefits at the expense of the other. Commensalism is when one benefits and is often completely dependent on the other, but there is no obvious effect on the other.
Ideas and solutions are a bit like organisms who need symbiotic relationships. Ideas need friends. Solutions need friends. They need environments in which they ‘feel’ safe so they can thrive. When teams are confident in who they are, where they fit, and the role they play in an organisation, they tend to try more ideas. And they tend to be more successful of bringing new ideas to life.
It’s not because the idea is any different than the one tried in other teams, it’s because the environment is different. The environment is supportive – not of the idea per se, but of the people who bring the idea to life.
Ideas and technological solutions don’t magically change organisations by themselves. They can’t. They are not living things. Ideas and technology are tools used by people who are part of systems and cultures.
Realising people and organisational cultures are in a type of symbiotic relationship with ideas and technology is critical. And while ideas and technology are not a living things, it can help to think about how they spread. They tend to have a mutualistic or a parasitic relationship, rarely a commensalistic one, with people. Shifting the arc towards mutualism is our role.
The choice is up to us.