Bonsai Management


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I have started growing bonsai trees. It is immensely satisfying and the results are beautiful. It is not too difficult, this is how you do it…

  • Pick a plant species that responds well
  • Carefully trim back its roots and branches
  • Choose a small container to constrain growth
  • Plant in well-drained soil
  • Feed and water regularly
  • Prune back any unnecessary growth
  • Train with wires and weights to create the required shape

In a few years you can create a beautiful stunted tree.

Bonsai works on more than trees

You can achieve a very similar effect with your staff…

  • Select employees who will fit in and not rock the boat
  • Carefully discard any ideas they bring from previous employers
  • Create a rigid environment of rules and policies to constrain growth
  • Drain away all external influences
  • Regularly feed with corporate communications, slogans and values
  • Performance manage to trim away the dead wood
  • Impose targets and audits to create the required shape

After a few months you can create beautiful stunted employees.

The downside to bonsai management…

Once stunted, it is very difficult to get your employees to ever flourish again. But then, why would you want them to do that?

Thanks to Annette Franz for the idea for this post.

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Bonsai Tree

Image by Kenneth F Andrade

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.


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