The Garden is Well Planned:
During a recent conference, I had the opportunity to visit the Chef’s Garden. It was a working garden for sure. By
I’m guessing that the Chef also supplemented her yield with commercial herbs and produce since the small plot of land wouldn’t support all the food that this conference center provided for the restaurants and banquets.
As I watched, the gardener carefully tended the rows of produce and flowers. The flowers, I’m told, were carefully
chosen to keep some of the insects and animals away from the produce. And of course, they also added color to the garden.
Mind the Weeds
Carefully, the gardener pulled the weeds from around the produce and flowers. She explained that the weeds are quite prolific. They grow quickly and hog the moisture and soil nutrients. If the garden isn’t tended regularly, the weeds soon take over and the produce is starved.
The gate to the garden had a cute sign requesting that we, “Please keep this gate closed regardless of what the
Speaking of Culture
It occurs to me that gardens provide a reasonable analogy for business and for life. Like the garden, we must constantly attend to our organization’s culture or it will soon be overrun with weeds. There are people who seem to drain our culture of its vitality. Weed-people are toxic to the organization’s
Similarly, in our personal lives, it is often said that we “reap what we sow.” In addition to that, what we tolerate in our gardens is what will determine the quality and abundance of our harvest.
Sometimes, in order to increase our yield or defeat the weeds, we resort to chemicals for our crops. We might add fertilizer and spread weed killer. Now we find that in our interdependent ecological systems, those added boosts to our
Likewise in our organizations, concentrating on one measure of our crop yield at the expense of others often results in negative unintended consequences. If we focus only on the top line, for example, we may find that the yield is poor — low or no profitability. Or we may find expenses going up due to employee turn-over as focus on profits takes away the compassion in leadership.
Useful And Limited
There are many useful analogies for leadership and organizational development. They come from the military, gardening, travel and myriad other experiences. I find them useful because different analogies speak to different people in a way that helps them grasp deeper meaning.
Yet even great analogies fall apart if we push them too far. Instead, we may want to use them to paint the big picture. Stories are the most compelling way to communicate complicated concepts in a way that helps employees grasp the vision, mission,
I find it to be a fun exercise to take