Are you a Victim, Neutralizer or Transformer?

Just imagine if you were able to develop a revolutionary new system that enabled you to grow your business by 20% whilst using 50% less of your most precious resource at the same time! And this could be done right now and not in some far distant future.

Until the mid-1960s, the Kibbutz Hatzerim enjoyed a fairly simple farming existence in the Negev desert of Southern Israel (Negev is the Hebrew word for dry). As a collective, they decided to try and find a business, complementary to farming, that would help them enjoy a more sustainable lifestyle. They partnered with an engineer, Simcha Blass, to try and develop a new kind of irrigation system. Years earlier, Blass had noticed a small line of trees that had grown significantly taller than their neighbours, and on further investigation, he discovered that a faulty water pipe dripped continuously near the roots of the trees that had grown taller. He then realized that ‘drip irrigation’, providing just enough water at regular intervals was not only superior in terms of growth effects to sprinkler irrigation, but it was also vastly more efficient in terms of water consumption. In early trials, using a new plastic piping system, water use fell by 50%. The subsequent joint venture between Blass and the Kibbutz was called Netafim and it became a $800 million company, developing the world’s first ever drip irrigation system. Use less resource to earn a lot more money.

IMAGE: Netafim

IMAGE: Netafim

One of the keys to the success of the partnership was the attitude required to embrace the constraint, lack of water, and find a creative way of using the constraint to achieve, indeed wildly surpass, their ambitions. The team was blessed with the mindset of a Transformer. No hint of a complaint about the water shortage, just a steely determination to make money from it.

Currently, Britain is enjoying its hottest, driest spring since records began with temperatures of up to 75F (24C) predicted this week and a sunny Bank Holiday weekend ahead. East Anglia enjoyed just 1mm of rain in April. Although the news is great for the sun-worshippers, it is not so great for the farmers and the keen gardeners. The impending hose pipe ban is likely to sound the death knell for the latter as they see their carefully tended lawns turn from lush green to dusty brown. Nothing to be done. Force Majeure. Just grin and bear it. This attitude is the direct opposite to that of a Transformer. It is the Victim mindset, characterised by someone who reduces the scale of their ambition (a beautiful garden) when faced with a constraint that is out of their control (lack of water).

There will be some gardens, however, that will survive relatively unscathed despite the shortage of water, because this group of gardeners will possess a third mindset: The Neutralizer is somebody who refuses to lower their ambition but finds a different way of avoiding the constraint to deliver the ambition. The foresightful ones with the big green water butts, full of rain collected over the winter months will try hard not to display their slightly smug expressions when jealous neighbours peer over the fence...

Photo by schulzie/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by schulzie/iStock / Getty Images

Businesses are always faced with the constraints of resource – money, time, expertise, space etc. These are not going to go away, they are likely to become more and more prevalent, more and more acute. The choice facing individuals, teams and companies is either to moan about them (Victim), negate them (Neutraliser) or embrace them fully to open up exciting new opportunities (Transformer).

If you are determined to adopt a Transformer mindset when faced by a thorny constraint, there are only three questions that you must answer ‘yes’ to:

1.     Do I believe that it is possible?

2.     Do I know how to start?

3.     Do I really want to do it?

If you'd like to know more about how we can work with your team to embrace a transformer mindset please get in touch.

Mark Simmonds