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Gardeners Not Mechanics

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Gardeners Not Mechanics

How to Cultivate Change at Work

Gary Lloyd,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Manage change like gardeners who plan, experiment and nurture while accepting the limits of their control.

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Change consultant Gary Lloyd points out that gardeners cannot predict or control their environments. They must balance art and science, proceed through trial and error, then nourish and support their crop. Leaders seeking to effect change in their organizations face similarly unpredictable and interdependent environments they can only influence, not control. The author describes the strategic planning, preparing, planting, pruning, weeding, staking and watering leaders must perform to drive sustained change.


Organizations must change and adapt to remain in business.

Change efforts often erode quickly as people and organizational cultures revert to their previous ways, both affected by a built-in resistance to change.Change campaigns succeed or fail on a sliding scale, delivering some value in most cases but achieving less than 70% of expected value three-quarters of the time.

Too often, leaders approach organizational change as if they’re fixing a machine. Change the input, tweak the gears, test it, adjust and bingo – the desired output sparks to life and motors ahead. This method may work on machines because they operate in predictable environments, like cars on paved roads or a train on a track. However, it seldom works on people or corporate cultures.

Like a gardener in a yard, accept three things about the environment of your corporate change: unpredictability, interdependencies and your “limits of control.”

Organizations and people – like plants in a garden – live in a constantly changing environment. Businesses and the workplace are unpredictable. Standard or replicable processes and practices can’t generate continued...

About the Author

Gary Lloyd is an international organizational change consultant and coach. Most of his career was spent in banking and financial markets. He currently serves on the Warwick Business Schools Executive Coaching Panel.

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