In the Garden – Learning and Relearning

| June 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

A gardener sees the world as a system of interdependent parts – where healthy, sustaining relationships are essential to the vitality of the whole. A real gardener is not a person who cultivates flowers, but a person who cultivates the soil.” In business this has translated for me into the importance of developing agreements and partnerships where vision and values, purpose and intent are explicitly articulated, considered and aligned among all stakeholders of an enterprise – customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and the broader community and natural environment.” – William Rosenzweig

Understanding interdependent parts is a critical concept to fully cultivate a vibrant business. It is of no use to have a development team that is doing well, if the customer service team is failing or the quality control folks are operating in a silo, or the HR Department is viewed as a blocker for bringing on new hires. Our organizations represent a complex system and must be viewed with eyes wide open – not focused in singular areas.

“I thought we were doing ok. I mean I know we’ve got some problems, but I thought people were generally happy about their job and where we are trying to move the company. I guess we just didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

The previous refrain is often repeated by business leaders when they receive the word that the troops are fractured, only giving 60% or there is distrust    in the leadership of the company. It takes concerted effort to understand and be cognizant of all areas of a company. I believe it requires leadership of a company to:

1. Slow down, remove as many of your ‘bias’ lenses as possible and take a good look at the whole of your business.

2. Recognize that your organization is a complex system – all components are important and interrelated.

3. Utilize a frame work that consistently helps you to know what you don’t know about the culture of your organization.

This is not flavor of the month stuff. Cultivating your business is an everyday ‘must do’. We cannot expect a healthy company by working on issues one day and then ignoring them for the next month.

As discussed last month, I am a strong advocate of the Denison Culture Survey as a tool that provides a framework for analyzing your organization. The reports from the survey provide leadership with a comprehensive view of the culture of their own company. It  is not just about employee engagement. It is about customers and the ability to adapt to new demands. The reports provide data on how well the strategic direction is really understood, whether employees feel the tools and communications necessary to be effective are in place. Ultimately, the Denison model and survey is a business tool for change. Accurately diagnosing specific cultural strengths and challenges is the first step in the change process and allows individuals, teams and the organization as a whole to identify a specific course of action.

Take a look at the circumplex below. How are the various systems in your organization performing? This model does not support a myopic view. It naturally requires a broad look at the whole of your company.

If you are interested in additional information feel free to contact me at or go to Dension Consulting at . Better yet, stop by the garden!



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Category: Assessments, Human Capital Management, Newsletters, Performance Reviews


About the Author ()

Julia Hill-Nichols, SPHR, is the founder of LeadersCove, LLC. With over 30 years experience in operations and human capital management, Julia is gifted in the art and science of bridging strategic imperatives and a company’s human capabilities—executing for success, meeting bottom-line objectives and enlivening the people who are the organization’s lifeblood.

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