August 25, 2015 Anil Saxena

Keeping Up With The Joneses

As with most things in my adult life, my greatest learnings have come from my wife. A couple of days ago, she was approached by a neighbor asking for her help in landscaping their yard. Now, my wife is not a professional landscaper, but extremely talented in making things look great. Our yard is a combination of her ideas, brains, planning, and my labor.

My wife threw herself into the project. She was totally engaged. Taking pictures, measuring, drawing. She did this without the promise of anything in return, except gratitude.

“Why are you working so hard on this?” I asked.

“Because she is my friend and I want to leave something great behind,” was her simple reply.


Her passion made me wonder what it would be like if work occurred to us like the yard project to my wife. What is the legacy we are leaving? Do we as employees, managers, or leaders think about leaving something great behind us when we are done? How do you make that a reality?

Like I said in the beginning, I just watched my wife. She started with an idea in mind of what a great yard would look like.

What would fit with the house and the style of the neighbor? She developed a great strategy.

Any great project starts with a great strategy, whether that is a for a company, department, or yard.

But how is that turned into reality? What are the steps to get people engaged? How does one achieve repeatable results?

Understanding how enrolled they are already…

Then, she worked with our neighbor to figure out how engaged she was in her yard with questions like:

  • What did they like?
  • What did they want out of their yard?
  • What would be their ideal for the space?

She started getting them involved in the plan. They had to put together plans, learn, and get into action. Measuring the level of engagement is the first critical step in realizing a strategy. Once it is known, then there has to be action taken to increase that level of engagement because people have to be engaged before they will work on implementing a strategy, no matter how brilliant.

Make the managers great…

Once she started to get them engaged, she trained the neighbors to be outstanding yard managers.  It was important that they learned how to be the very best at taking care of the yard as it was designed.  They had to not only be good with plants, but make sure that whatever they did was in line with the strategy.
The key factor in a “fully realized” strategy is great managers learning and taking tactical action that is aligned to the overall strategy.

Make the results repeatable….

The yard was transformed, and our neighbor was so very pleased.  The results were really magical.  They have the second nicest yard around (…next to ours of course) and are excited about it.  Now their yard is beautiful, always looks great and they are excited about working in it.
They have a consistently awesome-looking yard thanks to my wife leading through the process of:

  • Engaged Neighbors
  • Great Yard Managers
  • Aligned to Yard Strategy
  • A Superior Yard

The same is true at work:

  • Engaged Employees
  • Great Managers
  • Aligned to Organizational  Strategy
  • Superior Results Business Results

Wasn’t it someone wise who once said you reap what you sow?

So what are you doing to insure reliable, repeatable results with your managers or your team? Are you reaching into their passions and desires to help them produce more with less (friction, resistance, and foot-dragging)? Are you making plans clear for everyone involved so that they can be left alone to succeed on their own? Or do you micro-mis-manage them? I’d love to hear your story!

Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.

Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


Cube 2.14 will increase your organizational effectiveness. We specialize in developing innovative, practical solutions to create productive workplaces that exceed goals.