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Nurturing your Fruits of Labour

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

I’ve been doing some work with a client recently. They are growing rapidly and have their eyes on the ball. They came to me because what they were looking for was to grow their bank balance in line with customer need. They were looking to grow with intent. I liked that. A lot.

When a company has no history of human centred ways of working, I usually start with a broad sweep - not just of customers but also of staff, to establish a baseline for future work. What I came across this time is best explained with an analogy:

Imagine an apple tree, abundant with juicy red apples. They look shiny and crisp, ready for the taking. Imagine you have worked many seasons to grow this tree, it’s your pride and joy, and you even polish the apples from time to time and decide which branches you need to give extra support, to grow more of your shiny apples. Then one day there is a storm and when you come to check on your tree it’s fallen over. To your dismay you realise that your tree has no roots that were able to hold it in place during the storm.

While Mother Nature is unlikely to grow a healthy plant without decent roots, businesses are different. We spend a lot of time admiring the fruits of our labour, ‘polishing’ them and adding branches to our proverbial apple tree to grow more fruit. Rarely does an organisation take the time to evaluate and strengthen what made their tree grow abundant and strong before a storm comes along. Some survive it, others don’t. The same is true for our design practice.

For me this was a valuable lesson which made me think:

What grounds my practice, the business that I run and the organisations that I work with? And how might I strengthen whatever makes me and my practice thrive?

2021 is going to be that year for me. To ground deeply what feeds my practice and my impact potential so that my apple tree can continue to bear fruits abundantly but also remain resilient against futures storms.

What’s your focus for this year?

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