While puttering around in my garden this Spring, watering some newly planted veggie seedlings, I was reflecting on how much I enjoy gardening. Planting new seeds of life, watering, tending, and feeding them fertilizer for their best chance at strong and healthy growth. Then watching them thrive, grow, and produce food or beautiful flowers. Very rewarding when you see the results.
Before I know it my thoughts morph over to the work I like to do, helping non-profit organizations thrive. The parallel really made sense. If you want your organization to thrive, grow and produce results you must tend it; be intentional with your care.
Have the right infrastructure in place, the seeds of policies, procedures, and systems. Seedlings of the right people on the Board of Directors and staff. Help them grow by supplying proper training and the tools necessary for success. (That would be the “fertilizer” – but not BS! ;o)
Do your Strategic planning, or “Roadmapping” as I call it, so you know who you are, where you want to go and how you plan to get there. All of this is an ongoing process, not once and done, anymore than watering your garden once will work.
Don’t be hesitant about asking for help with these important tasks, an outside perspective is always helpful and can rejuvenate your organization. Tending the infrastructure will set you up for success – your garden will flourish!
Part two: Vine Vision
Trimming Virginia creeper vines is a time consuming and at times frustrating job, however it does provide another mind wandering opportunity. In all the tangle, what do you trim away and what do you leave? This depends on what your long-term vision is for your vine. With mine I want it to grow up a fence, leap over a walkway and continue up the corner of my deck top solarium.
To accomplish this, the vines need an infrastructure to grow on, which over time is created by the older vines, some of which don’t even bear any leaves. If I were to cut away anything that appears to have no life left in them, I would destroy any chance of creating the long term, organic infrastructure that will provide the means to accomplish my vine vision.
As I am cutting, I will leave vines that don’t appear on the surface to be productive, but do support new growth.
Once again Mother Nature provides me with inspiration. My wandering mind compared this symbiotic relationship to both organizations and Downtowns. How you ask?
Organizations: the unseen infrastructure – policies, procedures, processes, plans – are not exciting but without them all would collapse.
Downtowns: the established foundational businesses in a Downtown are not necessarily trendy, sexy and new but they provide the pillars, or roots, that the new and exciting businesses require to flourish and expand, themselves eventually becoming part of the overall structure.