Canaries and Birch Balls

As you exit to one side of Big Thunder Mountain at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll notice a little canary in a cage. In earlier days of coal mining, there was a concern about ventilation. Methane and carbon monoxide gases were a poison that could take the life of a miner before anyone realized the gases were too strong.

To resolve that concern, canaries were brought down in cages to accompany the workers. Canaries were even more sensitive to those gases and would pass out long before the miners did. As long as the bird kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. A dead canary was a sign to evacuate immediately.

A very different signal comes from this ball of birch mulch. Head over to Mitsukoshi Department Store in Japan at Epcot and you’ll see this unique formation.

Found in Japan, these unusual ornaments were hung over sake during the fermentation period. When the birch has turned from green to brown, then you know that the sake has sufficiently fermented. Truly, nature has provided her own timetable.

Nature provides many signs for us. The first falling leaf, the first snow fall, the first bud in the spring. So it is with organizations. What are the signs that your organization is succeeding? What are the signs that your corporate culture is what you want it to be? What are the signs that you need to make changes before it’s too late?

J. Jeff Kober

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