My parents were big into gardening. Perhaps it runs in the blood. My grandfather on my dad’s side is/was a farmer, my parents are big into gardening, and I have been known to play in the dirt on occasion – and on a good year actually eat something I’ve grown. Like farming, there’s lots to learn. In this particular instance, I’d like to invite you to hear my thoughts about the Garden Philosophy of Management.
The Garden Philosophy of Management is this: You plan, you plant, you keep an eye over things, you water and weed, and let things grow.
You don’t pull up the roots to see how the daisies are doing.
There is something to be said about surrounding yourself with good people, good tools, and just letting things grow. I think <a href="http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/where-the-science-happens-the-penny-arcade-report-goes-for-a-tour-though-th"Valve is the king of doing this. You let ideas take shape, pruning, weeding, and watering as necessary. You don’t oversee the growing of every leaf and every root. The plants know how to grow on their own, and they will.
This isn’t to say that you let everything grow, sit, on the porch all summer, then go and harvest a truckload of melons at the end of the summer. That’s not how gardening works (except when growing zucchinis. They really do grow like weeds around these parts). There is work to be done. Good ideas need to be incubated and bad ideas need to be weeded out. Even the best of people occasionally need encouragement. The real challenge come when knowing when to step in and do something vs. letting your people work their magic. It does take faith to let people do their thing. To paraphrase the late Randy Pausch:
If people haven’t impressed you, you simply haven’t given them enough time.
So if you are a manager, next time you are tempted to jump in, hold on and think about this: Should I be jumping in, or should I let things grow? Am I pulling up the roots to see how the daisies are doing?