The Sequoia Story

We draw on our founding story and metaphor from the Sequoia forest – a symbol of an ecosystem that is adaptive and generative – one that is anchored by a strong foundation of roots that stands the test of time.

In many ways, this story is a parable that illustrates our work – O.D. (Organisation Development) to develop flourishing organisations.

The oldest known trees on records, the Giant Sequoias have a lifespan of up to 3,000 years. The coastal redwood is a common species of Sequoia, reaching heights as tall as a 27-storey building. Along with a base diameter of 35 feet, the Sequoia is likely the largest living organism on Earth.

These living legends have been discovered to have surprisingly shallow roots – at only five to six feet deep for adult Giant Sequoias. So, curiously, how do such massive trees hold themselves up with such shallow roots?

Ironically, the answer is strikingly deep. Though shallow, the underground roots possess an unexpected element of interconnectedness – they grow toward other roots and intertwine between themselves! In a sense, Sequoias provide and rely on each other for the sturdy support needed to bear their weight.

Sequoia Story

In what ways might we take after Sequoias?

Have we been providing support for one another?
Do our connections stem from mutual understanding, support and trust?

A friend from California who lives near a Sequoia forest told me that even after the mother Sequoia dies, her roots continue to live underground and provide a source of sustenance to the ring of baby Sequoias growing around her. The young trees continue to depend on the mother tree for support and nourishment through its taproot long after her own glory is over.

What legacy do we leave behind, when we eventually leave a place? And do our trails continue to provide support for others? Have the people we left behind, in Robert Greenleaf’s words, “become healthier, wiser, and freer, and more autonomous” because we were there with them before?

Fundamentally, Sequoia Group is about enabling people and organisations to find the meaning, value and passion in their work, as we do. Perhaps Nature is also gently reminding us that we’re never too big to reach out, ask for help and depend on one another for growth.

After all, in life’s journey, we stand taller together.

Read more on how we translate the Sequoia Story into our engagement approaches and design principles.