I have always been fascinated by the art of bonsai gardening. In bonsai, the artist uses many tools and techniques to craft and guide the natural tendencies of the tree to create something beautiful and elegant. By planting the trees in shallow pots, cutting leafs in half, and trimming unessential branches the bonsai artist can stunt the growth for the tree without changing the natural form of the tree. Further, the bonsai artist uses wire to slowly morph the tree into the shape the artist desires. The result is an aesthetically pleasing final product. I am transfixed by bonsai trees and amazed at the skill required to maintain the qualities of a tree while still making it a beautiful piece of art.
That tree, given it’s own way, would become something different; beautiful in it’s own rite, but different nonetheless.
Have you ever thought about the policies and procedures of your company? What do those policies do to the culture? What would that culture be without those policies and procedures?
The play between policy and culture is a delicate balance and sometimes takes a figurative bonsai master to manage the balance. Most would agree that companies need policies to make sure it does what it needs to; but too many policies might create a culture that is unnatural and ugly. A rich natural culture in a company is a beautiful thing. Companies thrive when everyone is motivated by the same things and the culture is in line with the business objectives. It takes a master to manage those important decisions.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to create a culture from scratch. Cultures grow naturally in companies. Your job as an company leader is to use your tools and techniques to cut, prune, and form your culture without changing the natural form of the company. Some cultures are nurtured by the freedom of the employees choosing what they want to do with their time while others are created by putting many policies in place to make sure the employees behave in specific ways to ensure the companies goals are met.
Whether your culture grows naturally or grows as a direct result of your impact is up to you. Recognizing the consequences of your decisions will either make a natural thing of beauty or a company that is unnatural and ugly.