Growth: Why giants appreciate an exceptional rose bush when they see one


Growth is a core aim for many businesses I work with. It’s difficult to fully forecast or control, but there’s so much you can do to significantly increase your chances of it being sustainable.

Enter There Be Giants. You’d expect them to know all about growth, but you might not have linked them to gardening. As one of their Associates I’ve discovered how their methodology and tools really turbo charge growth in a sustainable way which aligns and engages the whole organisation.

Here’s my blog for The Giants with my illustration of their strategic priorities following my interview with the tallest giant I’ve ever met in real life, Roger Longden.


Giants sometimes have a bad reputation, but anyone who has worked with us at There Be Giants knows that we’re of the friendly variety. We also like nothing better than getting outside in nature. You probably never linked us to gardening though, and rose bushes in particular.

I’ve just read Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud (recommended by Kim Morgan from Barefoot Coaching). The topic drew me in having coached many professionals through significant transformations, which impact on them personally and professionally. Let’s be honest, it was also significant after not dealing with some of my own ‘endings’ as well as I might have.

The author reminds us that endings are natural and inevitable, both in business and in our personal lives, yet many of us find them difficult and avoid them. I wouldn’t be successful if I carried on doing all the same things I did before I ran my own business. I’ve stopped the daily commute. I no longer pop into the canteen to get my morning tea and world news update from Kingsley, and I don’t work at times of the day when I’m not productive. Some things have been hard to end. I miss seeing my friends daily, being part of a consistent team going all out to beat the odds and being in a system where I am known, and I have an established reputation. These have all been necessary endings that needed to be managed.


Why did this make me think about the work we do at There Be Giants, and where do rose bushes come in? Well, businesses are like rose bushes, according to the author. When we’re focussed on growth (our mantra at team TBG), we don’t want to cultivate any average rose bush for our clients – one which is surviving but not thriving. That’s not our vision. We want to support clients to grow a healthy rose bush flourishing with a handful of prized blooms that everyone is really proud of. It’s all about having a clear vision, purpose and strategy and then focus, focus, focus.

So first of all, decide what your rose bush will look like when it’s blooming. Will it be tall and proud or do you want it to cover up a gap in your fence? What colour is it? Ours is yellow because that says energy and positivity. What do you want it to look like in two years and how will you achieve that? If you can’t answer these questions and it’s time for a refresh of your vision and strategy, There Be Giants can help with that too.


You’ve decided where you’re going and you’re off! However, here’s the problem with rose bushes and businesses. It’s where the analogy really comes into its own. Like businesses, rose bushes overproduce. They generate lots of buds and cannot support them all if they are to deliver your prized roses. It’s like all the ideas we have in business. The things we could strive for, the different products we could offer, the stakeholders we could spend time with. What rose bushes need is constant and focussed attention to prune:

  • Healthy buds that are not ‘the best’
  • Sick branches that won’t get better
  • Dead branches taking space away from healthy ones to deliver those prized blooms.

It’s the gardening version of the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) process we love at TBG. It’s what makes the difference to where you direct your resources and what gets your attention every day. It’s what stops your rose bush running wild or dying while you aren’t looking. It’s about where you prune today, tomorrow and next month — deciding which branches you leave to grow and where you change the direction of growth. It’s about knowing what your killer priorities are (your prized blooms), who owns these and making sure these are getting the right attention and moving forward within the wider frame of your vision and purpose.


Businesses are living things. They can develop a life of their own. If left unattended they may do alright. However, to get the best from them, they need consistent and focussed attention. That means a clear vision and purpose (What you want your rose bush to become and why), a strategy to deliver that and a handful of strategic growth priorities (your prized blooms) to get you there. Your best resources must be relentlessly directed towards those priorities, and that means pruning out distractions and things that aren’t working. It’s then about checking progress and adjusting as necessary. It’s what the OKR process does, in spades (see what I did there?). And here at TBG, we practice what we preach. So, we’ve been reviewing our strategic focus for the year and here’s how it is looking. You’ll notice we’ve done a bit of pruning too.

Image by Liz Needham, June 2019

So, how healthy is your business? Is it flourishing into your vision? Are leaders focussed relentlessly on the right things? Are the right branches growing in the right places? It might be time to brush up on your gardening skills, and The Giants are ready to help you do that.

For the tools to get your garden flourishing, check out the resources on TBG’s website include the OKR Toolkit or get in touch.