I have spent much time contemplating the best approach to people development in the South African context. I have applied this thinking to every business meeting, every training intervention, every assignment assessed over the past year. In this article, I identify the top 5 skills that need to be developed in 2013. My inspiration comes from the humble celery plant.
One of my challenges last year was the successful cultivation of a vegetable garden. I failed, largely because of the tiniest of creatures: the ant. The first crop I lost was my celery. The plants were flourishing but then, in the absence of any obvious reason, the leaves started to wilt and the plants eventually died. When I pulled what was left of them from the ground, I realised that their roots were infested with ants. Under ground, out of sight, these small creatures had destroyed a beautiful crop. Look at the picture above of a celery plant; focus on the roots, on how big they are in relation to the plant, on how strong they look. How could a root structure like this fall victim to tiny ants?
Meteorologist Edward Lorenz coined the phrase “butterfly effect”. In popular culture it describes the concept that small events or actions can have large, widespread consequences. I imagine this is what happened to my celery plants; a single bite of a root by a lone ant led to an infestation, to a large number of tiny bites that killed the plants.
The “ants” I face in my profession are those attitudes and daily actions that undermine the successful growth of the businesses I work with. Here are the skills I believe can stop the “ants” in their tracks:
Let the “butterfly effect” in your business be a positive one. Develop skills and attitudes that foster great things. Let the celery grow, not the ants.
This is a much simplified version of what is going on in my head but hopefully it will be enough to get you thinking; to spark internal debate and perhaps lead to a more detailed conversation between us.
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