Springtime usually rings our internal alarm, reminding us it is time to clean house. It's that time of year when we review the collection of what we gathered and hibernated in the winter, check-listing items and portions of our world that require a purge. Gardening is no exception. Our gardens only appeared inactive in the dead of the cold. The stagnation on the surface is deceptive, to say the least. Much has occurred while we weren't looking. So though our priorities shifted, and we took our eyes off a particular segment of our organizations, unless we made it inactive, it was still busy collecting and accumulating for the days ahead.
In the winter, your garden may appear lifeless and barren but know that the soil teems with millions of microorganisms waiting to provide vital nutrients once the weather warms up. When plant roots die and leaves fall to the ground, they decompose and become the source of carbon that eventually becomes soil organic matter. Microbes transform this material into chemical compounds interacting with minerals to stabilize the plant and protect it from decomposition. This allows roots and other underground plant structures to produce an antifreeze by concentrating sugars, which lowers the freezing point. Plants store essential nutrients and carbon in these below-ground storage organs to ensure they have what they need to thrive when spring arrives.
That's a mouth full. We know. The point is, as your organization conducts business, unless you intentionally issue a cease and desist order to its underperforming areas, much like the plants in the winter, they will continue to produce life. As spring approaches your organization, all life forms within your garden will eagerly bud, even those you did not tend to. Let's call them weeds and thorns, which create undesirable conditions and influence the production of feeble results. They'll function as allelopathic plants, affecting or inhibiting overall growth.
These plants can be anything attached or affiliated with your organization floundering or not producing determined outcomes—programs, services, products, and marketing initiatives. Here's a quick example. You've been hosting an annual or regional event for over two decades. However, in recent years, there has been a steady decline in attendance, exhibit sales are spiraling downward, and gaining sponsor and speaker participation has felt more like pulling teeth. This conference is a weed, my friend.
If you are unfamiliar with what weeds can do, here's a little overview. Plants are forced to compete with weeds for light, water, and nutrients. When they invade gardens, weeds harm the plants by depriving them of necessary substances, making them more vulnerable to diseases and pests. In other words, they kill the portions of your organization you battle so hard to see flourish. They rob those initiatives and offerings of dollars, time, manpower, and other resources used to build them into further success. The competition is no longer external but has initiated a civil war. Instead of creating integration and synergy, you have now invited internal hostility.
As springtime signifies a refresh, let's use this time to prune and uproot what does more harm than good. This action involves the trimming and cutting away of dead or overgrown branches or stems, intending to increase fruitfulness and growth. As an organizational leader, this means you are willing to reduce or eliminate that which impedes progress to make more room for what is blossoming. It's a bit of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ without discarding the baby with the bath water.
To prune is to create new life from older plants, and at the same time, it is to uproot the weeds that steal life. We want the strength and tenacity to do both where and when necessary.
When you courageously pick up your pruners and apply them where needed most, expect incredible outcomes. Good pruning always results in a stunning bloom.
Check out May's blogs and get the full scoop on how your organization resembles a spring garden.