Culture shift – lessons from nature

Last few weeks, I have been intrigued by the hibiscus flowers in our terrace garden. In the first sun rays, I would see the buds hanging low, slightly bent under their weight. As I returned from my morning walk, the bright red hibiscus smiled cheerfully at the world.  

I wondered how long does it take these buds to blossom? How do the petals open-up? I satiated my curiosity this weekend by watching the transformation journey. I sat for more than an hour, observing the slow metamorphosis.

Yes, it took almost 70 minutes for the bud to blossom. As you can well imagine, during these 70 minutes

  • I got impatient and kept wondering – why does it take so long?
  • I was keen to measure the change. I could feel the change, knew it’s happening, but it was imperceptible
  • There were several buds on the plant, and each bud was in different phase of blossoming

As I watched the bud’s journey blossoming, I connected it with culture shift efforts in organizations. I saw the similarities and the mistakes we often make as leaders.

  • Patience and belief are key – culture shift takes time… Just as I couldn’t force the hibiscus to bloom in 15 mins, a lasting culture shift cannot be rushed through. Imagine what would have happened if I applied force to open up the petals. I had the belief that the bud would bloom as the plant had all the necessary ingredients. Same applies for culture shifts initiatives in organizations. Once we provide all the ingredients, its critical to give them time to evolve and come into play.
  • Frequency of measure needs to be well planned. If measured too soon, we would see no change and be disappointed. If done too late, we would assume that its simple and just a magical on-off switch. (Before watching the flower blossom, I presumed that it will take about 10 mins)
  • Comparison doesn’t help – there were five buds in the plant, and each followed its own pace. Similarly, different functions and employees will follow their pace of change. And it’s critical to allow that time for people to adapt

This is my learning from nature…Inspired to learn more from nature every day..

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