The Nature of Coyotes

If asked, you would probably express a negative view of coyotes. However, coyotes have many admirable characteristics. Most notably, the coyote can adapt to thrive in most environments and habitats. We can learn a lot from the coyote and apply those lessons to marketing our businesses. For instance, in nature, coyotes adapt rapidly to changes in their environments. Most of the changes a coyote faces from competition for territory and resources for other species prove life-threatening. The coyote meets threats with crafty adaptation.

If we personify the coyote, we could translate their survival instinct into thoughts and questions like:

  • What just happened? This new situation isn’t right, so how are we going to deal with it? or
  • What’s with these humans and other animals? Don’t they realize this is our territory? Let’s see how they like this (the coyotes’ new behavior).

Because coyotes are opportunistic predators and so highly adaptive, they are not limited to where they operate. The original coyote habitat was the open deserts and prairies. However, the coyote displayed their ingenious ability to adapt and now thrive in most terrains and environments, including large cities like Los Angeles.

Coyote Core Competency 1: Environmental Adaptation

The first lesson we learn from the coyote then is to respond quickly to environmental changes. As individuals and organizations, adaptation needs to be core competencies.

Organize to Thrive

So the coyote’s ability to thrive and adapt is something to be admired and copied. One element of adaptation is knowing how to operate alone and with a partner or to create a team. A coyote can hunt alone, with its mate, or with a pack. This organizational ability enables them to have the right resources for the job to be done.

As a species, coyotes are opportunistic predators. Again, as a result of natural abilities to adapt to circumstances, coyotes don’t think “this is the way we’ve always done it.” Instead, the coyote looks at the situation and says: “I still need to eat, so what do I need to do in this new situation?” The coyote doesn’t try to force the environment to be different. The coyote changes how it operates and where it operates to survive.

Coyote Core Competency 2: Applied Learning

The coyote has thrived because of its ability to learn and then apply that learning to the situation.

Thrive in a Defined Territory – Stake it Out!

Once a coyote establishes its territory, it defends it enthusiastically. What is different about a coyote’s territory? It’s diversity, location, configuration, and size. Unlike many animals, the coyote defines boundaries based on need and the ability to find resources. To thrive, a coyote may establish:

  • A single territory,
  • Multiple adjacent territories,
  • Multiple disconnected regions, or
  • Many tangential areas.

Territorial Decisions

Single Large Territory

The most traditional model for coyotes and businesses is to focus operations in and on a single territory. For coyotes, the territory is geographic. Companies, however, can define a territory by many different attributes. A business may choose a niche within the broader market based on age group, education, or other demographic or psychographic characteristics. Single territories tend to be homogenous, with members sharing the same core behaviors or needs or buying patterns.

Multiple Adjacent Small Territories

Coyotes and businesses frequently establish a base territory or niche and discover that there are other opportunities to pursue in another area. Those opportunities or regions share some elements of the foundation territory. These commonalities make expanding sales and marketing into the adjacent group cost-effective and the next logical step in growing the business.

Multiple Disconnected Small Territories without Direct Competition

Sometimes there is no single, vast territory or opportunity that will sustain our businesses. Instead, we can identify various smaller niches scattered throughout our environment. They likely share common characteristics. What they don’t share is adjacency in the marketplace. While disconnected, non-adjacent territories are not ideal operationally, they can provide areas where little or no direct competition for resources or customers exist.

Territorial Imperative – Thrive through a Right-sized Organization

The coyote adopts seasonal patterns of behavior, taking into consideration pressures on resources, care and feeding of their young (new employees), and in reaction to threats to its territory. Humans and other animals directly impact coyotes. Unlike most animals and some humans, the coyote takes cues from those interactions to change their behavior to ensure they not only survive but thrive.

Right-sizing your organization requires an environmental assessment. Think of this assessment as checking the temperature of the competition and other factors that can magnify or constrain your success. For instance, in a growing economy, consumer optimism is reflected in increased purchases and the desire to execute on projects and activities delayed during a recession.

Positive climates also translate to increased demand for resources. Resource availability becomes critical to sustaining operations and growth. More people, money, and other inputs are needed. You compete directly and indirectly for those resources. As a result of competition, the cost of resource acquisition increases.

So the size of your territory matters. Will the territory you staked out to provide for your organization? Is it big enough to generate revenues, profits, and cash flow to feed the organization?

Keys to Thrive: Listen, Observe, Target, and Pursue

If the size of the territory matters, then so does how you interact with your environment. The more your organization as the ability to learn and adapt to the prevailing climate or any climate in which you operate, the better your chance of survival. Every hunter knows that it must continuously monitor the environment. Monitoring requires a listen, observe, target, and pursue cycle.

  • Listen to internal and external feedback.
  • Observe environmental indicators including financial performance.
  • Target deviations from plans.
  • Pursue corrective actions and new opportunities.

Thrive Through Environmental Adaptation

The coyote has learned to thrive through environmental adaptation. Adjusting to the environment is the key to survival to thriving. The coyote is an adaptive hunter whose behavior changes based on the situation, resource availability, and the ability to learn and adapt.

Dominate Your Space

Coyotes are not shy about vocalizing. They communicate early and often with their pack, to warn of danger, and to establish dominance in the pack and their territory.

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