There is one story that rules them all. I have spent the better part of a decade telling stories about the natural world, and while many are more mind-blowing, more bizarre, or just fantastic there is one story that always seems to do the trick. I have used this story to help one organization re-think how they manage thousands of volunteers, another how they imagine their place in an ever growing virtual marketplace, and another in helping them realize their true value to their customers lies in information rather than material goods. This uber-analogy, unsurprisingly is a super successful organism, and one that has arguably shaped every living thing on the planet. I didn't think a simple description would do it justice so I created this cartoon to tell the story.
The mushroom is of course the culprit. Fungi have a peculiar place in the natural order of things. I like to think of them as a stomach one cell wide and millions of cells long that are trying to digest the entire world. Every living thing on land needs to figure out how to avoid them, or bargain with them to exist. As a result they end up connecting our world. Trees and plants share nutrients, water, complex chemicals, and information over the fungi-web. Ecosystems thrive with fungi, and without them would often die. As we look for analogies in our world today, there are few examples that are more rich, more applicable, and more insightful than looking to fungi. If you were a fungi, how might you connect those around you? How might you enable the entire system to thrive? How might you in your ambitious nature to digest the world, end up creating a connected and thriving ecosystem?