New growth

June bud  









It's June 1 and the city garden behind my Providence, RI, office is bursting with new growth. What's fascinating about plants -- and organizations -- is that so much unexpected and counter-intuitive growth happens at the tips and edges of organisms.

New cellular structures -- and ways of working -- often happen by chance, emerging unexpectedly in the least likely places.  This is emergent innovation, not cultivated by an innovation department, task forces, expensive consultants or forced mandates. This is where many Rebels at Work hang out.

Normally cells enlarge all over the surface. However, in many organisms, there are also specialized cells that grow only at their tip. How the necessary materials are delivered to the growing tip, is largely unknown.

Tipping Plant Growth, Universitaet Tübingen, "Science Daily," Dec. 19, 2011

What these "tip growth" areas do need to reach their potential is light. My invitation to leaders is to allow emerging new practices to develop.  Don't over-analyze , demand ROI, question how they fit with existing policies or spray them with cynical "nasty-dust."  (Nasty-dust is as toxic as asbestos and is more common in office buildings than asbestos.)

Give people and ideas light.

Expect possibilities from the least expected sources, and get everyone to lighten up -- or simply abandon -- the command and control buggy whip.

The development of new leaves is triggered by light, a finding that contradicts 150 years of conventional thinking. Leaf initiation was thought to be unaffected by environmental cues such as light.

Plant Biology: New Light Shed on Growth, "Nature," July 2011