At some point during our childhood, I’m sure all of us tossed a pebble into a calm, glassy lake and observed the ripple effect that it had on the water’s surface. Not only did it affect the water where the pebble entered, but its ripples extended from that point to distant shores — not a bad for a little pebble!

It always amazed me that such a tiny object could have such a great impact on the surroundings — and this also applies in the business world. My experiences at Cultivate’16 reinforced this idea that you don't need to make huge changes in order to make a significant improvement in your operation.

Scott Steinberg, a strategic advisor and Monday’s keynote speaker, focused on stimulating innovation in your business not by trying to overhaul the whole structure, but by making small tweaks here and there. “More often than not, it’s really about thinking small,” he said. And don’t be afraid of making a series of small changes that have a ripple effect throughout your business. After all, according to IBM, “The new normal is continuous change.”

While on the Cultivate’16 Greenhouse Learning Tour, we noted many small changes that increased efficiencies at the stops. For example, at Millcreek Gardens in Ostrander, Ohio, hoses in the propagation room were hung up on horizontal rods above the benches so that growers could easily move them down the bench without dragging them along the floor or bumping into plants. Having hoses up off the ground also reduces the risk of spreading disease and employees tripping — a simple change with multiple benefits.

You can also find examples of these types of changes in this month’s issue. At ArizonaEast, a succulents grower based in New Jersey, one of their small changes was switching up the pots that they were selling to retailers. When their traditional terracotta pots weren’t cutting it, the company upgraded them to custom planters that were designed to appeal to customers looking for a more stylish option. Read more here.

Still not regularly testing your irrigation water? It may be time to change to a more consistent testing schedule to ensure a healthy crop. Find out why here.

As you move into what may be a slightly less busy time for your greenhouse, think about which “pebble” you’d like to throw into your pond. Would a redesigned company logo help generate buzz? Perhaps rethinking your greenhouse bench or shipping area layout would make production run smoother. What if you dedicated just an hour more per week to whittle away at a daunting task that you’ve been putting off? Whatever small change you decide to undertake, don’t underestimate the impact it could have on the rest of your operation. It might surprise you.

Karen E. Varga, Editor

216-393-0290 | Twitter: @Karen_GIE