Civil engineer and business consultant Ivan Scott has taken insight from the animal world to teach lessons in business. In July

What would the animals do?

A South Surrey author publishes business lessons learned from the scrublands of Africa.

About a decade ago, Ivan Scott was the vice-president of Lafarge Concrete in B.C.

Although the civil engineer and former dam- and bridge-builder was a leader in a profitable worldwide company, there was no shortage of challenges, and he had to be careful to keep the company ahead of its competition.

Scott, now 62 and a business consultant based in South Surrey, recalls having long talks about strategies with his Western Canada boss at the time.

The discussions about prices, competitors and market share sometimes took odd turns.

Quirky questions would pop up: What would lions do at this stage? How about water buffalo?

“We would sit there for hours and talk about it.”

By coincidence, both Scott and his boss were South Africans and they linked the problems in business with the business of survival on the veld – the rolling scrublands of southern Africa.

After years of thought about the subject, Scott has self-published Survive or Die: Business Transformation Lessons Given by the Animal Kingdom.

He describes it as a business textbook, but with the quirk of having the “it’s a jungle out there” phrase taken to a new level.

The lessons about survival strategies come from the viewpoint of a several large mammals, each given a chapter.

As an anthropomorphic narrative, the animal communities are moulded as businesses: Lion Limited, Elephant Enterprises, Cheetah Corporation, Baboon Brokerage.

Each species has their own challenges, whether they’re predator or prey.

“They discuss things among themselves (about) how they can ensure their survival,” Scott explains, adding that in the wild, animals also communicate with each other.

As in the human business ecosystem, they subscribe to SWOT analysis – evaluating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Mistakes are made. Losses occur. Lessons are (sometimes) learned.

Scott says the book features basic, universal business lessons, not the flavour-of-the-month strategies of other business books.

There’s a recurring element of change, with humanity a major factor in the gradual decline of wildlife populations in the last 100 years.

He says that climate change is one factor, but there’s no need for hunting nowadays, either in Africa or Canada.

“We can do our hunting at Safeway,” he says.

About two days after Scott first published his book in late July, the Internet was awash in revulsion to the news of the death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe at the hands of a trophy hunter, Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer.

The last two chapters in Scott’s Survive or Die involve a trophy hunter who arrives in the bush with a trio of trophy targets: A lion, elephant and water buffalo.

The animals are seemingly no match for a man on the hunt.

“Any idiot with a rifle can kill something,” interjects Scott, who doesn’t hide his contempt for the real-life hunter.

But the author says it’s no spoiler to divulge that the hunter in Survive or Die, who hasn’t planned his strategy properly before setting off to hunt, gets what’s coming to him in the end.

He didn’t read the book.

Survive or Die: Business Transformation Lessons Given by the Animal Kingdom by Ivan Scott is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1EiopZk

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