Think like a gardener
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Sustainable change is elusive. Whether it's as significant as Brexit, or as personal as finding a job you love, the obstacles are surprisingly similar. Perhaps more surprisingly, the solutions are also similar. My forthcoming book covers both those types of change and it has one big idea that links them together:
Today's organisations are more like ecosystems than machines. So, if you want to make a sustainable change at work, you are more likely to succeed if you approach your change like a gardener, not a mechanic.
Mechanics rely on predictability. They assume that the same inputs produce the same outputs, time after time. A racing car, for example, will usually perform as predicted, as long as it is on a race track. Put it in a ploughed field, and its performance will be unpredictable. Machines need well-defined, controlled environments in which to perform well.
In contrast, gardeners know that their environment is unpredictable, with much of it outside their control. Their approach to change is to take small steps towards a bigger goal. They experiment, to find out what works and what doesn't and adjust accordingly. They know there is no guarantee that what worked before, will work again, because they know their environment is in a constant state of flux.
Over the coming weeks, I will share extracts from the book, material that didn't make the cut and anything else that crops up.
In my next post, I'll tell you why China's mechanistic approach China's one-child policy has created a demographic time-bomb.