Springtime garden after the rain – a digital business analogy

An interesting analogy just flashed in my mind – I think it’s worth writing out and sharing.

It’s early May, Toronto has had almost two straight days of spring rain, and there’s still more rain to come. It’s early evening, the clouds are clearing up a bit – not enough to catch a glimpse of a sunset, but enough for the city to take a breather, soak up all this water, and contemplate. Plus, it’s very foggy – the temperature must be rising.

My garden has been slowly waking up after winter. I live north of the city, so things are always delayed compared to T.O. Some early blooms are opening, more birds chirping, the fruit trees are showing signs of life. In Canada – even in Southern Ontario – you never really know what survived the winter. Even with thorough coverage, plant protection and accommodations – one really cold winter night, and a quince tree is dead, or stunted. One icy gust of wind in February, and your favourite jasmine vine is gone. True stories, both. Tragic.

So today, once the rain has stopped, I went outside to the garden to assess the damage. But instead of soggy grass patches, broken branches, and washed off stone paths I saw spring, just beginning to burst open. The soil has finally thawed out deep enough to keep taking in rain water – the bogs are gone. The trees had already shed their dead branches, and instead are getting covered with fresh green leaflets and white and pink blooms – there might even be fruit this year :). The tulips are busting open, the magnolias are opening up right before my eyes, and flowerbeds that were gray and brown just a couple of days ago – have all shades of green forming in small but bright batches. It’s all coming together.

Spring is short in Canada – so everything is accelerated. In a few weeks we’ll all be wearing shorts and summer dresses, sitting in shaded patios, because the scorching summer is here, and the pavement is melting. The lawns that have just turned bright green, will be yellowing by mid June. So for now, right now – go out and take in the spring. Welcome the rain – let it wash the sand and salt, and give new life to the plants you seeded. You did put some seeds in last year, right? RIGHT?!

So what does any of this have to do with a digital business? Well, consider this. In a new garden, just like a new business venture – you experiment at your own risk. At first, you plant “sure hits”, and later you also plant something just outside our growing zone – in case it adapts and rewards you with exotic flowers and fruits. At first, you do the proper pruning and staking – but you also occasionally let a certain plant take over a corner, or let two aggressive plants fight it out, instead of weeding them both all the time. Or, you let a weak plant wither and die of natural causes, if supporting it no longer works. A garden, as it grows, requires more effort and attention but not everywhere – so you automate, or accelerate, or front-load many tasks, where possible. You pay attention to the plants/corners that really need it. You leave alone the plants that are doing just great.

Same in business, especially in digital. When it’s new – you play by the rules, you listen to sage advice, you follow the books. As the business matures, and your clients and relationships get stronger – you automate or accelerate some things (thanks to technology, it’s become possible, and affordable) – and with some clients – you let them wither. Not a pleasant experience, but necessary – more on that later. So when the business is established – knowing that you’ve sent out enough pitches, took the right meetings, had the phoners, handed in the most ambitious projects, and have already collected some positive feedback – you can confidently sit back and just watch it grow.

It’s not a blind optimism of a start-up, or newbie gardener. It’s a confident knowledge that this year – will be better, bigger, more colourful, more fruitful and perhaps – more delicious than last year. For one simple reason – you did your homework, you invested your time, you minimized risks, and after all – last year was already pretty good, and the winter was mild.

I know some business execs are probably screaming at their screens right now (“you can always do more”, “digital is 24/7”, “you’re leaving money on the table”), but I’m going out into the garden, to just walk around and watch it grow. I’m going to do the same with the business, too.

There will be more flowers this year…

…Because I planted more bulbs last fall.

More pics (and stories) to come. Have a wonderful spring. Don’t miss it. And contact me with any of your digital or technology problems – perhaps I can help you solve them.

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