REFLECTION: About five years ago, we redesigned the pond in our backyard garden. Moved it further out into the yard. Increased the size. Changed the shape. Added a creek and waterfall. We, and the birds, have enjoyed it greatly.
However (and don’t you love the sense of foreboding in that word?), for the last couple of years, the water level kept dropping. We’d top it off, and a few hours or days later it would be several inches lower. The pond never went completely dry. It just dropped 8 or 10 inches and sat there – thumbing its nose at us (or at least that’s how it felt!).
And so the problem solving and experimenting began. Check for evaporation. Not at that rate. Check for leaks in liner. Nope. Check for wet, swampy areas around the hose connections. Nope. Shore up creek walls. Problem continued.
This spring, with the problem not having resolved itself over the winter (so much for wishful thinking), it was apparent the time had come for a major deconstruction. And, so that’s what I did on the weekend.
I ripped the creek bed apart from waterfall to pond basin. And what did I find? Tree roots. Mats of webbed and woven tree roots. None poking through the liner – but countless tiny rootlets crawling over, sneaking under, snaking around rocks and liner folds, and ultimately dropping down into the water’s edge. Apparently, the 30 foot Scots Pine had found a way to turn the pond into its own personal drinking fountain. And, man, was it thirsty!
So, over the course of eight hours, I cleared away the rooted mess and mass (sorry, pine), rebuilt creek walls and pond’s edge, resealed vinyl liners, restacked stones, and recaulked spaces. After letting everything cure and dry, and then filling the pond to the brim, I’m happy to report some 48 hours later that the water level remains high.
I’m under no illusion that I’ve outwitted my nemesis and solved the problem for good. Although I do figure watering the Scots pine well away from the pond might encourage it to send more roots in that direction.
ACTION: While I was working away on the deconstruction/reconstruction, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the experiences I see unfolding every day in our teams and organizations. The source of many problems is rarely visible on the surface. We might tinker away on one suspected cause or another, but never dig deep enough to get to the root of the matter.
Meanwhile, the real source of the problem drains energy and life force from the entire enterprise.
If there’s a recurring issue that has been plaguing you or your group – one that persists despite your best attempts to get things under control, it could be time to tackle major deconstruction – to drain the swamp, dig deep and fix what’s really going on below the surface.
Yes, it’s hard work – and entirely unpredictable in terms of what you might find. But, it can be oh so satisfying to actually get to the root of an issue, to rebuild from the ground up, and to know that at least for the next little while, you’re operating on a more solid footing.
Where might you be compensating – propping up and topping up – instead of diving deep?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: A succinct comment on results: “Don’t tell me about the labor pains – show me the baby!” – Roxanne Emmerich
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Recommended reading: “Thanks God It’s Monday – How To Create A Workplace You And Your Customers Love” by Roxanne Emmerich (FT Press, 2009). This new release is all about transforming organizations by excavating attitudes and accountability at the core. A challenging proposition. An engaging read.
READERS WRITE: LD writes: I liked your comment, “The past is water under the bridge, so why linger there at all?” So many people dwell on it time after time instead of striving to make a better future. A favorite saying of mine is by Dr. Wayne Dyer: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”