"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Management and Gardening

Editorial: Management and Gardening – A Creative Analogy

By MoonJin Kim

The concepts of management and gardening are considered to be worlds apart. The objectives of each are very different; the goal of management is to maximize profitability while the goal of gardening is aesthetics when growing flowers and function when growing food. Thus it is natural to assume they have little in common. However, in spite of vastly different goals, management and gardening are, in fact, analogous. The traditional as well as the modern principles of management are shared by gardening precepts. The focus of this editorial will be illustration of the application of the 14 management principles of Henri Fayol, which are indicative of past principles, and emerging management paradigms, which are indicative of current and new principles, to gardening. The analogy will be drawn with the gardener as the manager and the plants as the employees.

The first of Fayol’s principles is Division of Work. The idea is specialization enables more experience and thus greater improvement and productivity. Division of Work is applied to gardening in that the same plant cannot provide all the desired details of colour, texture, scent, line and form. Thus accommodation of each of these functions requires division of work. For example, some plants could provide colour and scent while others texture and others still line and form.

Authority and Unity of Command are another two principles. The former is the right to issue commands balanced with responsibility for function while the latter is that each worker should only belong to one line of command – no more than one boss. These have evident applications in gardening. The gardener makes decisions of what plants to use and where and there should be only one gardener deciding what plants to use and where, otherwise conflicts would occur. Scalar Chain or Line of Authority means that there must be a hierarchy in business with an appropriate number of levels. There is a hierarchy in gardening of two levels: plants and gardener.

Discipline and Unity of Direction are principles that go hand in hand with Authority and Unity of Command. Discipline means that employees are required to follow commands but management must provide good leadership to ensure obedience. The principle of discipline in gardening is that plants must grow where they are planted but the gardener must ensure growth with proper care. The principle of Unity of Command requires Unity of Direction but is not a direct result of it. Unity of Direction means that employees performing the same kind of tasks must have the same goals in a single plan. In gardening, the plants that provide colour work together under the gardener’s plan to do so. Similar reasoning applies to texture, scent, line and form.

A seventh principle of management is Subordination of individual Interest. This implies that managers must hold the goals of the firm above those of the individual. In gardening, the garden takes precedence over the interests of each plant. If it did not, each plant would have more than ample soil, and much more individual care. This would mean a very empty garden, which is usually not the desired effect.

The principles of Remuneration, Initiative and Centralization are also applicable to gardening. Remuneration is payment as a motivator. In the case of a garden, the plants’ remuneration is life, growth and health. Striving for healthy growth is plants’ initiative. Centralization of plants depends of the gardener’s plan.

Order and Equity are the eleventh and twelfth principles of management according to Fayol. Order ensures organization and minimization of lost time. Order is the responsibility of the gardener. Order is established since the gardener has control but to ensure organization, the gardener must plan carefully. Equity is the balance of kindness and justice. In gardening, the balance is in doing what is best for the plant and the garden. For example, pruning for better growth may be best for the plant and garden.

The last of Fayol’s principles are Stability of Tenure of Personnel and Esprit de Corps. Just as employees are more productive if they have job security, plants also perform much better when they are not moved often and their root systems can settle. Esprit de Corps is the management’s responsibility for morale of the workers through initiatives such as reward programs. Gardeners are responsible for the plants’ entire well-being in making sure that it is watered and fertilized as needed.

In addition to traditional principles, gardening shows similarities to emerging management paradigms. To ensure a healthy and successful garden, gardeners employ technology just as businesses do to ensure success. Gardeners use pH tests, salinity and nutrient tests that technology has made much more available. Also, changing environmental conditions mirror the variability of changing markets. Thus gardeners must plan for an adaptable garden that can handle a variety of temperatures and weather conditions just as managers must plan for unclear changes in markets.

As illustrated, gardening displays applicability of management principles and traits of emerging management paradigms. It is then evident that management and gardening are not as different as previously thought. They are arguably very similar indeed.




articles from the course readings on pg 185, 219




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