The greenhouse operation started from scratch and grown to significant success wasn’t a greenhouse operation when we began.  It was a flower farm, modeled after what everyone else was doing: field-grown cut flowers, sold primarily during the summer months, about 100 different varieties.

But that model was the wrong one for us.  For one, it meant that we had an abundance of product when our high-end retail grocery store clients were at their slowest.  We couldn’t truly compete in the marketplace because our supply was seasonal, and we were missing some of the biggest flower holidays of the year.  (Valentine’s Day, anyone?)  Not to mention that a whisper of a hurricane could put an entire crop in the mud within minutes, despite whatever preventative measures we took.

I knew we needed to turn the boat and take the business in a different direction, but I also knew it couldn’t be done overnight.  Trying to convert everything from field to greenhouse production would, quite literally, have meant betting the farm.  Instead, I chose seven different kinds flowers to trial.  The learning curve was steep.  Growing indoors was like learning Italian after gaining proficiency in French.  Some of the same rules applied, but it was different entirely.

But over time, this experiment, with multiple smaller experiments contained within it, paid off.  Those  seven crops were eventually whittled down to just one, cut lilies, all grown under high-tech, computer-controlled greenhouses.  And field production was eliminated.

In the end, we became known as the top producer of premium cut lilies in the state and region.

Innovation happens in leaps sometimes.

But more often, particularly when there isn’t a good model to follow, it comes from observation, experimentation, and iteration.

Which then makes the leap possible.

Of those three elements, how many are alive and well in your organization?


I work with CEOs and Fortune 500 senior executives to accelerate performance and profitability.  My next openings will be mid-Q2.  You can reach me at: to have a mutually exploratory conversation about working together.

My keynote on Magnificent Leadership™ has been getting rave reviews at events like the American Bankers Association national conference.  For booking information for 2017 and 2018: