Magazine article Strategic Finance

A Cash Crop

Magazine article Strategic Finance

A Cash Crop

Article excerpt

As the grandson of a farmer and son of a man who has worked for a seed corn company for 29 years, I'm always intrigued by books that tie business to agriculture. Grow Your People, Grow Your Profits, by Karen Jett, a regular contributor to the Strategic Finance book review column, uses her experience as a leading business expert and the spouse of a farmer to craft an engaging read on how to nurture the people in your organization.

Jett wastes no time asking thought-provoking questions. Halfway through the first page, she asks, "Are you skeptical that an organization can even have values?" She spends the rest of the first chapter outlining how "organic" organizations begin with highlighting their values, then build the rest of their model around those values. In an age where profit overrules values far too often, Jett emphasizes how we can lead by values in our own reporting structures even if our organizations are "inorganic." By emphasizing values from the very start of the book, Jett is able to transition smoothly to the steps needed to grow your people and profits.

In each chapter, Jett presents an employee topic using an agricultural analogy as the chapter title. She takes the reader through the foundations of farming, from planting to harvest, and highlights a management topic relevant to the agricultural step. Let's look at two examples that show how Jett uses her analogies to engage the reader.

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In "Building Up the Soil (Trust and Respect)," Jett emphasizes how managers must earn the trust and respect of many different people throughout the organization, similar to how a farmer must care for the soil through fertilizer and water in order to produce a bountiful harvest. Managers must work effectively with their direct reports, immediate supervisors, other departments, and outside parties to "build the soil" of their working relationships. …

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