Flourishing Landscapes Instead of Dead Wood

How do you motivate plants? Some tried and tested practices from everyday management in hierarchical organizations can help here. Or maybe not?

You buy a beautiful flower. Little by little the blossoms fall off and no new buds appear. More and more leaves wilt and the growth remains sparse. What do you do to motivate the plant to perform at its best again?

As an understanding gardener, you first seek the conversation and give the flower feedback on its performance deficit. Of course, you wrap your criticism between words of appreciation by praising her progress in foliage performance, where last month it showed a small increase of 7.5%. The recent seminar “Giving the Right Feedback—Reaping Maximum Performance” has thus already paid off.

But you remain adamant on the real point: the plant urgently needs to work on its attitude and weaknesses. A flower without blossoms has no future here. That has to be said so clearly. The rose right next to it does that far better! And there are plenty of very similar flowers at the garden centre that would be happy to take its place here. It would be ridiculous if you couldn’t get this low performer up to speed with that!

Just to be on the safe side, you’ll create additional incentive. With proper flowering performance, a thick extra portion of fertilizer at the end of the year and more water the following year beckons. This should not miss its effect. Everyone can be bought, it’s all a question of the amount of the bonus.

The answer to the question managers so often ask of behavioral scientists „How do you motivate people?“ is, „You don’t.“

Douglas McGregor, 1966. Leadership and motivation: essays

In case it still does not bloom within the next month, you already have a plan. Then you’ll make an example of it in front of the whole garden by threatening to move it to the mossy part of the garden next to the compost heap, just at the edge of the bed, so that you can always drive past it a little bit too close with your lawnmower. This will hopefully show it that you are serious!

At least it will not interfere with the overall performance of your garden so much after the relocation. Times are tough after all, there is no room for low performers. You need top performance from everyone now. Otherwise you will never be able to catch up with your neighbor’s performance. Where does he get these highly motivated plants? There it blooms in abundance, not like at your place, where you constantly have to cut out dead wood and can’t keep up with replacing wilted plants.

Why do you hire dead wood? Or why do you hire live wood and kill it?

Peter Scholtes (1997). The Leader’s Handbook (S. 331)

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