Management Articles


Has Everyone in Your Office Been Grafted, So There’s No More Evolving?

By: Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  Visit her on the web at and for FREE ezine.

Has everyone in your office been grafted so there’s no more evolving? Let’s say the “party line” is demanded of everyone, like a graft on a plant, so eventually everyone’s thinking the same way.

New people are hired, chosen to be as similar to the old as possible, and then they get grafted. You have one person working in your office, one “thinking head” on many bodies. Nothing new is coming in, and no one’s free to evolve. You are setting yourself up to die out, and here’s why. The “domestication” of your office will dangerously compromise its fitness to compete.

Look what happens when you do that to the apple. Apples don’t grow “true-to-seed,” and there are potentially an infinite variety of apples possible. In the grocery we see the industry favorites--Golden Delicious, Winesap, Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, but in an orchard, if trees were allowed to seed freely, you would see “apples” you would never know were “apples.” They could be purple, oval, lumpy, tasteless, so bitter you spit them out, soft and mushy, bright yellow, striped ... anything is possible in the “seeding” world.

So, to ensure you get a Winesap, if that’s what you’re after, you graft “Winesap” onto a tree which could’ve produced anything, and now will produce Winesaps. According to the fascinating book, “The Botany of Desire,” by Michael Pollan, grafting is endangering the domestic apple.

“In the wild a plant and its pests are continually coevolving in a dance of resistance and conquest that can have no ultimate victor. But coevolution ceases in an orchard of grafted trees, since they are genetically identical from generation to generation. The apple tree is no longer evolving, but the viruses, bacteria, fungi and insects who love it, are. The domestication of the apple has gone too far, to the point where the species’ fitness for life in nature (where it still has to live, after all!) has been dangerously compromised."

Now in a business the thing to look out for is the competition, and in order to stay competitive, we need to keep evolving with them, right? Constant change typifies today’s work environment, and if we don’t allow our employees to be constantly changing, learning and growing, as well, not just “grafted,” the business will not fare well.

If you plant the seeds and let people be who they are, think creatively and individually, work in the area of their strengths, and have opportunity for growth, you’ll have an organization much better able to compete, one that can keep coevolving in today’s fast-changing environment.

© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2004

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

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