It’s November, and it feels like winter already as if the fall just skipped us altogether. If you live outside Canada, fall is a gorgeous time to visit.
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You’ll get a chance to see trees change from green to vibrant autumn oranges, yellows, and reds throughout the country. Then you know, it’s that time of the year when the trees start to shed their leaves, leaving it bare to withstand the long cold winter.
Please bear with me as we take a quick botany lesson to make my point.
As the germination process starts, the seed gets ready to form roots, a stem and the first leaves. First, the roots develop and push down into the soil to make sure the new plant can get water. Then the stem cells stretch up to produce the first leaves. The seed powers the initial growth until the leaves can start producing food. Once the roots are in the soil, and the first leaves are in the sun, the plant is ready to start growing. The main job of the leaves is to produce food for the tree. As winter descends, to protect the resources or nutrients, the trees shed their leaves, reducing themselves to their toughest parts – roots, stems and branches. Leaves have to take the fall.
Let’s get to the point.
You can witness mother nature’s phenomena in the corporate world as well, where each member plays a distinct role in the sustainment and growth of the organization. Some are the roots that supply strategy or direction to the organization, some are the stem and the branches (wonder where the term branches in the organization came from), supplying the support and resources required for the smooth running of the organization. And finally, the leaves, the employees who are responsible for making the goods or services for the organization.
In an economic cycle, a downturn can be considered a consequence of reaching an unsustainable state and is corrected through contractions – hiring freeze, spend control, and layoffs. Like the trees during winter, to protect the organization, the roots, the trunk and the branches have to conserve the resources by shedding the leaves, the employees. Undesirable consequence, but sometimes it is essential.
How could an organization survive without such extreme measures?
This is where the cycles of nature and organization part ways. Most trees have no choice but to shed their leaves to survive harsh weather. The organization, on the other hand, can and must build conservation into its sustainment and growth strategy.
Often organizations resort to drastic cut-downs when the economic winter sets in, which can be reduced or eliminated through sound financial spending when the sun is shining bright. Excessive spends go unchecked, uncalculated risky investments go unmonitored, misdirected investment in products, services or technology remains unquestioned, and many such bad decisions are made without effective controls or consequences. And, when the cold winter sets in, the people who do the work as directed are the ones who bear the consequences. At times these measures are taken to look profitable for the quarterly results and fall back to the old unsustainable practices after that.
I won’t defend employees those that do not add value and remain a liability for the organization, still, those who do their work well, contribute wholeheartedly to the success of the organization must not meet the same fate and pay for the mismanagement of the organization.
The desired approach.
- Organizations must hold themselves accountable and adhere to judicious investment and sound decision making all the time and not wait for the cold economic winter.
- Employees must keep retuning their skills and learning to remain relevant for tomorrow.
Business practices, customer preference, technology landscape are the variables that will continue to evolve all the time as they had centuries ago. The constant is the human nature to adapt, learn and flourish, and become the root or the trunk of the tree.
When we become comfortable and ignore to remain ahead of the curve, we become the leaves that produce no value to the tree and must get shed for the greater good.
Thank you for sharing some of your precious time with me each week.
Until next week.