Willow Coppicing. Not your usual run of the mill business change activity. I personally had never heard of it until recently. So a quick trip to google and here it is:
In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. Willow has a determination to grow not shared by many plants, which could be described as magical. If you push a piece of willow into the ground deep enough, it will grow, apparently.
It’s amazing what a group of people who are relatively unknown to each other can achieve in a short space of time. Basically, we were given some tools like axes, saws and secateurs, and had to clear the overgrown willow next to a stream, drag the chopped down branches up the hill on the other side of the meadow, and build a “dead hedge”. Thanks Google…. it’s a barrier, wall or hedge constructed from cut branches, saplings, and foliage that becomes a wildlife habitat
With no conservation experience and no idea actually how to do this, but loads of energy and commitment, we started. We cut posts for the dead hedge, and started building or weaving the hedge, dragging chopped down tree branches up the meadow, hacked off any shoots, chopped up the bigger branches, and generally got a process going. A team formed around the stream, cutting back the overgrown willows, another group pulled the cuttings out from the stream and up the meadow, where the final team stripped the branches back and built the hedge.
We had a clear scope and purpose, and with no political alliances or other organisational baggage in tow, we found a task to carry out and formed our teams, used a process, and delivered an amazing piece of conservation change, by removing old, overgrown and choked up growth, and built a new sustainable wildlife habitat for a number of years to come.
Sustaining the gains is often seen as the hardest part of any business change, but with a good team, a solid design, focussed planning and effort to deliver, business benefits will be felt long after the project has finished.
About the Author
Our resident Lean Six Sigma legend. Mary has developed strong business change leadership experience over the years, using people management, programme, project and business process & analysis competencies.