Want a Tree House? Think Again!

on April 11, 2012

Tree HouseA couple of weeks ago, an unfortunate occurrence took place.  My neighbor called me at work to say, “A tree just fell on your house.  Come home right now.”

Well, that’s obviously a call you don’t really want to get!  And while it was a pain arranging for the tree people to clean up the tree and the roofing people to fix the roof, no one was hurt and there wasn’t too much damage inside the house.  It could have been so much worse!   But in reality, that’s just the beginning of the process.

And yes, there is a business point to all of this.

Ironically, this incident inspired my colleague, Tricia, and I to think about how close to home this hits (please forgive the unfortunate pun) for those of us who work at Root.

The word “root” has a lot of different meanings and contexts – in music, grammar, computers, genealogy, and more.  Let’s focus on its meaning in nature.  Dictionary.com, says a “root” is a part of the body of a plant that grows downward into the soil, anchoring the plant and absorbing nutriment and moisture.”

Here at Root, we spend our time with businesses of all sizes talking about their people and strategies.  There is a significant link between the name of our company, how organizations function and grow, and nature.

Like a tree, an organization is only as strong as its root system or foundation.  So when we meet with the leaders of organizations, we spend a lot of time talking about:

  • What that company’s reality looks like today,
  • Where they want to go, and
  • Whether their people are engaged in their strategy.

Next, we probe into the barriers they’re facing that may be keeping the company from growing.  If their people aren’t engaged, we dig a bit further to see if they think their employees are being nourished – with the tools they need to feel like they’re making a contribution to the business or that they’re part of something bigger than themselves.

I could go on and on about the metaphor of the tree and what it needs to grow and how that equates to your business today.  But, relating back to the tree that fell on my house, I probably should have had someone look at it when I saw some dead branches.  Maybe if I had tended to it earlier, the arborist could have done something to keep it from falling over during a random wind gust, or would have recommended taking it down altogether. But now it’s too late, and I have to deal with the fallout (sorry – this blog is just ripe for puns).

At the end of the day, I can’t help seeing this as a huge wake-up call for organizations.  If you spend a little time caring and nourishing the roots of your organization (your people), you will only have to focus on refining and sustaining your company, nudging it along in the right direction, rather than taking drastic measures to clean it up. Because believe me, no one wants to have a tree falling on their house (or their business)!


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