I love to garden. My house sits on a large, tree-covered lot and over the years I have turned more and more of the yard into gardens. But aside from knowing how to use a shovel, when to water, and how to add compost, I don’t know much about gardening.
Instead of worrying about which plants will grow in the shade, I go the nursery and ask for guidance. Then I go home and dig up the ground (one of my competencies) and add compost (another competency). Then I stick in the recommended plants (sort of a competency), water (definitely a competency), and wait (less of a competency).
Sometimes, the plants grow in unexpected ways. A tiny patch of something that looks like cartoon clover has taken over a swath of real estate on the east side of the house, what I thought would be a random shoot has become a giant pillar of spiky magnificence, and there’s a rich layer of color under the bird feeders just outside my office window.
That’s also my approach to business: take care of the basics and ask the right questions. Gardens need soil, water, fertilizer, and light. Businesses need good ideas, strong culture, the right people, a product or service that people actually need—and good advice, which you can get by posing the right questions to people who know the answers.
Then get out of the way. In business, we are programmed to fear the unexpected. But serendipity is unexpected. Allow for wildness and rampant growth. You can always move what doesn’t thrive or tear out what limits growth. Keep providing nutrition and water, and see what happens. Trust the genius of plants and the movement of the seasons.
The pictures of flowers on the case study page? Those are from my random garden.