I have the Onion Patch Strategy to thank for this blog, but there’s more and better on the onion patch, by Emma Langman. Except it’s called the Petunia Strategy. I have dotted onions all over this place, too late to turn back now. Onions it is.
Emma talks about the “inspirational petunias” who have made big changes, Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks and the like. These people are undoubtedly the BIG PETUNIAS who made a big change to their onion patch. But what about the littler, lesser Petunias? As Emma says:
“If Scholtes’ appreciation of petunias strikes a chord and inspires you to take action, perhaps think of the small but fearless action of Rosa Parks in refusing to move from her seat on the bus. What seems to have made the difference was not just Rosa’s determined act of ‘civil disobedience’ – but also her collaboration with others to create a movement.
If we dare, we can all be leaders and change the systems within which we find ourselves. If we dare, we are all more powerful than we know. If we dare, and if we collaborate with others (which also takes not insignificant bravery), we can lead more change for good than we might ever have dreamed possible.”
I think there are some powerful ideas in this, about the impact that small changes can make, the importance of collaborating with others, how leadership does not necessarily lie with people called “Leader” and the importance of daring.
The chief executive is NOT going to come up to you today and say, “I’ve got it all wrong. Everything that has lead me to this point in my career has been based on incoherent and ineffective ideas about work. Can you teach me to think like you please and change the whole organisation?”. She should, but she won’t.
No-one plans to make small changes in life, they don’t lie awake thinking of all the minor and nugatory piffling effects that will dribble from them and not be noticed by anyone. We want the moon, preferably on a stick.
What does Seth say?
Perhaps it’s worth considering no expectations. Intense effort followed by an acceptance of what you get in return. It doesn’t make good TV, but it’s a discipline that can turn you into a professional.
You’re still a Petunia, no matter if you manage to help big change happen or not. I think it is how you behave, the things you do, say and think that matter. I try and stick to the onion patch strategy, act like a systems thinker by thinking like a systems thinker, and the universe will unfold accordingly.
No-one changes anything by themselves
If you are at your desk, stop and look around right now. See all those other people at desks? They are you too. Not exactly the same, probably very different, but when they look around they see a bunch of other people too.
Leaders don’t have a monopoly on leading
Distributed leadership! If someone follows you, you’re a leader. Followers create leaders, not the other way round.
How very dare you
I have no idea what a Petunia actually looks like. It might look like me, or you, they aren’t marked as special, as they aren’t. What is special is the daring.
Keep systems thinking, and have a lovely day!