Fiona van Haeringen thought that Poetry and Business were incompatible but she was inspired to flip the classic performance review – as championed by the corporate world – and put Nature as the manager evaluating the overall performance of the employee – humanity. It makes for compelling listening and thinking and has already gone viral for that very reason.

About Fiona van Haeringen

Fiona is busy with her studies in the MS (The Biomimicry Center) at ASU College of Global Futures. She wrote the piece prior to the recent devastating flooding in Brisbane and the Northeast coast of Australia so it is perhaps even more pertinent now… #biomimicry #asu She has an active business and higher education career and her focus is now widened and deepened to consider how we, as a species, can live better on this Earth. She is interested in regenerative design and economics and their power to create systemic change. The practice of biomimicry (to emulate life’s biological strategies), promotes taking a living systems’ lens to human design challenges, ensuring we are not working against nature but within it.

Her work now advocates for a biomimetic approach to how we operate – from the structures of our organisations through to the design of our cities, our products, our food chains and ultimately, how we define what is of, and has, value in our economy.

Firstly, we do want to thank you for joining us today  

Your very first performance review…quite a moment! 

Now let’s see…you’ve been with us here on Earth all of just 24 minutes 

Compared, relative of course, to the 4.5 billion years of our shared Earth’s existence

And 3.85 billion years since we, Life, made our first appearance 

Quite the newbie in our organisation aren’t you? 

And now, we, who are made up of the current collective  

30 million plus species on this planet 

would like to give you a little directed feedback 

It’s an important moment and it won’t be easy because… 


You. Are. Not. Doing. Well.  

We tried being more subtle 

We tried waiting it out 

We thought, for sure, you would pick up the signs, particularly recently

That you would look, learn and listen to the things unfolding all around you and especially 

To all the mentors we laid out before you 

But you just haven’t caught on 

In fact, you are, dare we say it…can we say it?  

A little slow…and far too self-important 

There! We’ve said it 

We have ALL observed and it HAS been commented upon across the board that

You seem to think you are somehow running the show  

Ahhh what sweet delusion! 

So now, we must take you in hand, “manage you more directly” shall we say

To give you this one chance to realise that 

You are  


Starting out and  

Actually we must emphasise 

You are  


Here with us on probation 

We do need to be up front and let you know now  

That it is highly unlikely, based on your performance, that 

We will offer you an ongoing contract with this organisation


We had such great hopes for you  

Were so pleased when you first joined us and thought for sure 

You would… 


Would take note 

Would have reverence for… 

At the very least, “us”, as 

Your own life support system 

That you would clearly see that you were but 

A small part of the whole and that we were 

All interconnected, working together, 

One and the same organisation and understand that 

Life creates conditions conducive to Life 

But it seems we do need to spell out the rules for you 

As somehow you thought you were above them 

So listen closely now as here they are 

Our shared home, Earth, has clear operating conditions 

These are non-negotiable and whatever role you choose to undertake must

Respond to these as all Life is subject to: 

Sunlight, water and gravity 

Dynamic non-equilibrium 

Limits and boundaries – yes everything on Earth is finite  

(A point you particularly have not understood well) and 

Cyclic Processes 

Furthermore, all Life in this organisation adheres to the following six principles in order to  Survive and thrive: 

Evolve to Survive  

Adapt to Changing Conditions  

Be Locally Attuned and Responsive  

Integrate Development with Growth 

Be Resource Efficient (Material and Energy)  

Use Life-Friendly Chemistry  

That’s it 

There you have it 

Have we been perfectly clear? 

Any questions? …No? 

Then we look forward to seeing how you progress with this knowledge from hereon in

You should know that 

We shall be watching you closely and  

Scheduling a follow up review very shortly 

In the meantime… 

We would strongly recommend that  

You consult with Nature and its mentors from hereon in 

And would ask you to 

Please close the door quietly on your way out

Cover image credit Deon Robbertze