Lean Gardening – Beware of the Groundhog

Part IV of a IV Part series on gardening and some connections to lean. Watch out for rodents!

My wife and I had spent most of the weekend working in the garden.  Standing together a short distance from our cozy plot, we admired our handiwork; the fertile ground tilled into perfectly aligned rows and mounds, tomato plants quietly dripping some drops of moisture provided by the recent watering.  The young cucumber and squash plants had been strategically placed in the section of the garden where they would receive the optimum amount of sunlight and eventually provide a partial shield to the fragile lettuce and spinach seedlings.  This year’s plan had great potential.

Within just a few days, the fruits of our labors were starting to grow.  We were happy to see that most of what we planted was doing well.  Lettuce and spinach had begun to sprout from the rich soil, along with the beans, and the cukes and squash plants were expanding as to not be outdone by their smaller green competitors.

It had been maybe two weeks into the new growing season.  I had developed the habit of peering out at the garden through one of our family room side windows early each morning…my way of breathing in a breeze of success to start each day.  I approached the window as usual, eager to view the results of the peaceful overnight growth.

Shock and awe.

What had happened to my plot of perfection?  Every single plant had somehow disappeared, cutoff flush with the now barren landscape.  Except the tomatoes.  My eyes focused on the tomato plants for a brief moment, then quickly shot back to the flat wasteland.  I could conjure only one thought…whomever, or whatever had done this…was going to pay.

It only took about 15 minutes to discover the answer to what had happened.  Again looking out the window, I noticed a medium-size groundhog casually stroll into the field of now mostly dirt, apparently looking for some late morning dessert.  Unless his appetite was up for a tomato salad…he was going to be disappointed.  Thus began the future plans of never having this farming debacle ever happen again.

Working on ways to reap benefits from lean can be thoroughly enjoyable.  Great satisfaction can come when we successfully gather the right team to focus on growing our business, and we overcome those obstacles that many folks say can’t be removed.

Having worked on implementing lean for most of my career, I’ve learned that with a steady determination for success and the willingness to respect folks along the journey, great things can be achieved.

I’ve also learned that there are some people who just never seem to embrace, or recognize the need to…change.  I call these folks groundhogs.  They never seem to be around when all the work is being done, and they seem to have a knack for popping up at just the right time, eager to destroy any fresh lean initiatives they see starting to take root.  Maybe they like to cause trouble.  Maybe they’re afraid.

One thing is for sure…they’re hungry.

I like to think of myself as an optimist.  I’ve learned that even groundhogs, when viewed in the right light, have unique benefits.  Did you know that a good-sized groundhog living near your garden keeps all the neighborhood cats away?

It’s easy to want to get rid of the groundhogs.  I’m curious to hear what other folks have to constructively say about dealing with ‘groundhogs’.

Do you work with any groundhogs?  How do you ‘treat’ them?  How are you protecting your lean garden?

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About Steve Martin - theThinkShack

Hey there...I'm Steve. I built theThinkShack...a virtual hideaway about Lean Thinking and how it Connects to Everyday Life.
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