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Pruning Your Organizational Structure

Get More from Your Team with an Improved Organizational Structure


If you're watching this series on straw bale gardening and how it can help you and your leadership and management, you're probably beginning to notice a theme. And the theme is the more you give to individuals, the more they're going to give back to you. The better you take care of their needs, the more interested they'll be in meeting your needs. Higher output, whether it's from people or from plants, takes a little bit of care and nurturing. And the same is true when it comes to thinking about the way that you structure your organization or your team.

It can't be haphazard. You can't leave structure and culture up to some ad hoc way that things develop. You want to be strategic and thoughtful. Thoughtful mostly about people, not about what's trendy, not about what happened in some other organization, not about what's best for you, but what's best for the people in your organization. Structure includes things like how many direct reports does a manager have? It includes things like on the org chart, does it make sense the way that you've got those those functions lined up?, or is it actually an impediment because people can't get done what they need to as they're crisscrossing across the org chart?

It means that if you're a matrix organization, that you're still very thoughtful about those reporting structures and about truly enabling people to access who and what they need. Of course, that also includes your customers. Does the structure serve the needs of your customer? Or are there so many roadblocks and barriers because of the structure that people end up frustrated and they can't, even know they want to, they can't give you everything that you need from them?

Think about your structure. Think about the ways that you have set up your organization. Is it too big? It might be. If people are competing for resources and if there's not enough to go around, that could mean you have to scale back. And when you do, you might get more surprisingly than you would if you stayed large. Being able to streamline your organization could have some benefits. Conversely, if you simply don't have enough people resources to get the work done that needs to be done, well, that's a different problem and you have to address that one too, to give your customers what they need. But think about it. Don't treat the structure of the organization as an afterthought. It should be a part of the deliberate strategy that you consider every time you introduce a new initiative.

The first year I had a straw bale garden, I was a little overzealous. I didn't quite know what to expect. I had heard that you could plant crops a little closer together than you routinely would in dirt. But I over planted and I couldn't bear the thought of pruning the little seeds that were emerging, the little seedlings. I just let them go and I planted my tomatoes too close together and my beans were too close together. The pepper plants, everything was just tight. And what I discovered was that despite the high yield you get from straw bales, if you put things too close together and you don't give them room to grow and room to breathe, they won't do as well.

I had situations like this where my carrots in year one were growing right on top of each other. They didn't have a chance to fully develop. Now, I did have some good ones and in year two I made tremendous improvements. So I got a lot more carrots by painfully plucking out the ones that were growing into close to other ones. And although that felt like waste, it felt like throwing away something good and healthy, it really did help in the long run for the ones remaining to have the opportunity to thrive.

It's okay to cut back in the interest of making things better for everyone else who remains. In year two, I didn't plant things as close together. I gave them more room to grow and in year three, I expand it all the way out to sixty straw bales so that I could do what I had learned in the first two years. I could spread things out and I could position them appropriately so that they had what they needed. In year two. My yield was tremendously bigger than it was in year one, even though year one wasn't bad at all.

And here we are in year three, despite some very hot weather, I'm feeling quite optimistic about the way things are going to turn out. When it comes to planting in your garden in straw bales or in a traditional garden., you have to be thoughtful about where you put things, how much you put in and how you position one plant relative to another so that things don't interfere with each other. And it's the same with the work that you do, too.

If you're looking to get high yield, you've got to give the right support, the right atmosphere, the right spacing to the people that you're working with. You have to be considerate of their needs. And you'll get benefits when you do this. I took the time this year for the first time to go out and harvest the flowers that were blooming on top of my chive plants. And I harvested the chives as well that were blossoming. I put them into vinegar.

I left them in the dark for two weeks. I then strained them and have this beautiful, delicious chive vinegar, something I had never made before. It came from pruning back the plants so that they could all be healthier and would grow more chives for me throughout the rest of the summer. And it gave me an opportunity to get more out of the plant, something I never would have had if I hadn't thought about the needs of that plant and the way that it could benefit me.