Circle of Growth

Spring is a time of releasing old burdens and planting something new and exciting that make your Spirit soar—both personally and as an organization. What could you plant now that will lead to a bountiful harvest this Fall?

Consider growing your company as you would grow a plentiful garden on fertile ground. During our strategic planning and training sessions with Native American communities and their enterprises, a good Hopi friend and business associate of mine, Perci Ami, often shares about the circle of growth and how it relates to the four directions of the medicine wheel. This cycle has proven valuable for understanding the natural order and balance necessary to yield a successful harvest in life as well as in organizations.

1. Cultivate Your Garden

Every organization is unique like each seed of every plant. What works for one may not work for another. Does your organization have a strategic plan that clearly identifies your unique seeds to success? The strategic planning process naturally reveals and cultivates what to focus your precious resources upon so that your organization is aligned with your desired vision for the future. This alignment will result in an organization that will stand the test of time.

The process also helps to differentiate the uniqueness of your organization compared to that of your competition. It is a great way to determine or reconfirm the core purpose, core values, vision, goals and action plans for an organization.

Successful companies that stand the test of time even during tough times are built upon a solid foundation of core purpose and core values while adjusting their vision, goals and action plans to adjust to the ever-changing external economic and political environment. In other words, their core values and purpose are etched in stone; their vision, goals and action plans are molded of clay.

The process, done right, draws from the collective wisdom of the leaders and employees throughout the different levels of the organization. The result is widespread involvement, buy-in and accountability for the success of the organization. The strategic planning process will illuminate your path toward a bright, prosperous future.

2. Plant Your Seeds

Once your strategic plan is established and you have decided which seeds to plant, it is time for a reality check to assure that the seeds you plant will grow. Ask yourself, “What in our present situation aligns with our strategic plan? What does not?” Similar to weeding a garden, continue doing what aligns with your plan. Stop doing what does not.

Having the right people doing the right things in the right way will assure success. All policies, procedures, systems and processes should assist your employees to achieve what you have defined in the strategic plan. If there are employees who do not support your organization’s direction, they are like weeds that choke the life out of what you desire to grow. These people are probably your unhappy employees. Chances are they are also your least productive employees who demand a lot of your time and energy.

Great leaders do not manage people, they manage agreements with people. Consider having the leaders in your organization create with each employee they supervise a Declaration of Understanding that clearly spells out mutual desires and expectations. Employees will choose to live their agreements or not. As a result, leaders can simply manage the agreement without a clash of personalities. Employees who choose not to live by their agreements, even after extensive coaching, will probably be happier someplace else where they feel better alignment with their values.

3. Help Your Garden Grow

Tend to your garden so your plants grow strong. The most cherished possessions in any organization are the employees who tend to the garden. Happy employees are productive employees. Happy employees grow happy customers. Happy customers are loyal customers. Loyal customers will overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to spend money in your organization rather than with your competition. This is the ripple effect in action. It is like throwing a pebble into a pond. The ripples radiate out and come back in extraordinary ways.

“Understand each other, as the ripples when a stone is tossed into the water, the circle starts small and grows… until it fills the whole lake.” ~ Dave Chief, Oglala, Lakota

The greatest way to grow happy employees with little or no additional cost is to show genuine, heartfelt appreciation on a regular basis. Appreciation is the number one thing adults crave. Another way to grow happy employees is to invite them to share their wisdom. No one knows more about what works and what does not work in your organization than your frontline employees. Involve them in transforming your organization to the next level of success.

4. Celebrate the Harvest

By focusing on the right things, having policies and procedures that support the strategic direction, and having the right happy people doing the right things in the right way, only one thing remains—allow your employees and customers to share in the harvest. When you are successful your employees and customers will tell their friends and family about their extraordinary experience with your organization. The greatest way to increase revenues is by word of mouth. Your customer base will increase. Your valuable employees will be inviting other valuable employees to join your organization and share in the experience. Your harvest will be bountiful.

Yes, much can be learned about creating a successful organization by remembering the art and science of growing a plentiful garden: 1) Plant your seeds; 2) Cultivate your garden; 3) Help your garden grow; and 4) Celebrate the harvest. The success of your employees, your organization and your community will continue to grow.

Much success and fulfillment,


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