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What do wolves in Yellowstone and your business have in common?

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What do wolves in Yellowstone and your business have in common?

By: Chris Sadler, President, Allegiancy

June 03, 2015

My wife just shared a moving video with me, “They Brought Wolves to Yellowstone Park.”  It showed the dramatic, positive, and largely unforeseen effects of reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park after a 70-year absence. I think you’ll be intrigued by these 4.5 minutes.

What the video doesn’t mention is that the wolves were purposefully eradicated from Yellowstone by the U.S. Forest Service because they thought wolves were a menace to the environment, the deer, other wildlife, and to the ecosystem.

Besides making us angry, I believe we can learn several lessons from this experiment.  Do we want to trust our government to regularly intervene in highly complex issues?

The Yellowstone wolf eradication experiment is analogous to many other complex issues facing us. First, a problem is created – the wolves are killing too many deer. Then a solution is conceived – let’s get rid of the wolves because they are obviously the problem. And finally, 70 years later, the mistake is realized after much harm and unnecessary suffering. The wolves are reintroduced, and we mark as a great discovery the positive impact of the wolf on the ecosystem. Wow, who would have thought? – the wolf was a critical piece of the ecosystem?

I recently read of a similar situation in Washington State – “Forks, Washington and the Spotted Owl” by Theodore Dawes.

In this situation, our government has killed the lumber industry and set aside millions upon millions of acres as spotted owl habitat, only to find that it has not affected the decline in the population. Rather than backtrack and release the restrictions on these timberlands, government officials have now decided that the culprit is the more aggressive barred owl, which may be responsible for killing spotted owls or chasing them away. Now our government is trying to reduce the barred owl population to save the spotted owl. I see Yellowstone all over again, only worse. A whole area has been economically destroyed, and for what?

What can we apply to the business world and our economy? I believe there are lessons for all of us.

  1. As leaders facing complex issues, we need to be humble. We must realize that we cannot know the answer, nor be certain of how our actions will affect other variables in the equation. It’s highly likely that our first solution will not work, so let’s not burn bridges that we may need to cross after the first solution fails.
  1. Let’s think holistically (not the touchy-feely kind). Let’s take the view from 30,000 feet, survey the landscape before getting into the weeds of an issue.
  1. Finally, don’t get discouraged. We may fail again and again, but we have to keep getting up, dusting off, and having another go at the problem.

The economy, our businesses, investment decisions are all complex and should be approached as ecosystems.

It also helps to have an experienced proactive leader out front advising you – a seasoned professional who has been there before and has the scars and data to prove it. At my company, that’s how we see our role. As a commercial real estate asset manager, we typically have been down our client’s road before, and we are able to view issues from 30,000 feet and guide our clients to successful solutions.

About Allegiancy

Chris Sadler’s company, Allegiancy, manages commercial properties that have outperformed their peers by 45 percent since 2006. Since 2014, the company has more than doubled its assets under management (AUM), delivering clients attractive returns and profitable, hassle-free investments in commercial real estate.

 

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