The Tree Experiment


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A blog by Ron Scheese, President & CEO of Andesa Services

Andesa Services’ employees are breathing life into our company’s values.

During recent focus grotreeeups, each participant took 60 seconds to draw a tree and then watched a short YouTube video entitled The Tree.  Using the theme of core values, the groups discussed both the drawings and the video. I encourage you to watch the film clip before continuing on with the blog.

With no instructions other than “Draw a Tree,” the group participants demonstrated a good amount of creativity.  All depicted trees were alive (no dead trees like the tree in the video).  Many added roots, leaves, branches, while still others included squirrels, birds or different varieties of fruit.  Of course in a technology company, the obligatory programming tree was also present.

Symbolitree drawingssm and comparison to our company emerged from the conversations.  The tree can represent life, longevity, and growth.  It provides shelter, food and supports those around it by producing air; or, as one expressed, it gives back to its community.

Different parts of the tree were considered, with the group surmising that branches could be particular departments and the leaves could be individuals, all contributing to the whole.  Those who drew trees with roots noted they did so as they are part of the design of a tree or they had just been doing yard work and had to dig around the roots.  Those who did not draw roots cited their lack of visibility as their reason for exclusion.   Like roots, values aren’t physically visible but provide the organization life and nourishment.  Andesa’s values, Honesty, Respect, Integrity, Responsibility, Courage & Initiative, provide a firm foundation for us. Nurture the roots, and the tree can remain healthy, grow and prosper for a long-time.

As discussions turned to the video clip, here the tree represented an obstacle – a rather huge obstacle.  As the rain started, it would have been easy to give up – it seemed like this group of stranded strangers had everything going against them.

No one by themselves could move the tree.  Authority figures were present but there seemed to be a lot of standing around wondering why no one was taking action.  Some took matters into their own hands and resolved their own situation, but still the tree remained.

When one individual takes action, others will follow.

What resonates in this video is that by nature, people want to make a positive impact. “It Starts With Me” is the mantra when employees live the values of the corporation in everything they do. Our group began to see that it isn’t necessary to wait for leadership, but that anyone can start. No one can do it alone, but perhaps by asking, “Am I going to be the one?” others will follow.

Sometimes, the organization can be the obstacle.  Perhaps the dead tree can represent an outdated product, tool, process or mindset.  If bureaucracy takes hold in a culture, it is as big as a tree and no one person can move the tree alone.  The same can be true when we get so focused on the process that we lose sight of the true purpose of our work.  In an environment where we aspire to live the values of Honesty, Respect, Integrity, Responsibility, Courage & Initiative, each of us has the responsibility to take action, even when it begins to rain and it seems like the odds are stacked against us.  “It Starts With Me” is a terrific, positive attitude to embrace.  You just may be surprised who might follow you.

I look forward to continuing the conversation.  What parallels between trees, organizations and values do you see?  Please share your thoughts with me on The Tree video clip.

Ron on Twitter               Ron on LinkedIn              Ron at Andesa

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