What are you Cultivating?

A Farming Story to Prepare Leaders for the Partnering Journey

David McGee
5 min readMay 12, 2015


A farmer dreams of the perfect season producing an abundant crop and yielding huge financial rewards.

This abundance doesn’t come cheap — it requires thoughtful planning, hard work, and a bit of good fortune. Undeterred, he focuses on what he believes will have the greatest impact on a creating a successful crop: organizing the resources, building the right team, preparing the equipment, selecting and planting the perfect seeds.

The Results…

Despite good conditions, the seeds just never produced the harvest he imagined — weeds and other factors produced a very poor crop.

Frustrated, the farmer searched for experience and wisdom, hiring the best consultants to analyze the situation and prepare recommendations.

The answer???

Pick a different crop, one that is more aligned with the environment and the needs of the farmer.

So new seeds were sought and found, and, along with recommended modifications to the planting depth and the irrigation frequency, the farmer planted his new crop.

The new Results…

Unfortunately not much had changed!

After another failed crop experience, the farmer was now nearing a point of desperation. At the advice of a friend, rather than panicking, the farmer collected himself, stepped away from day-to-day life challenges, and looked again at his situation — only this time from a system’s point of view.

He reflected on his experience and suddenly had an insight that he was ignoring a critical piece of the system —

cultivating a healthy soil.

On the surface he was doing all the right things: using the best resources, picking the right team and planting the perfect seeds.

The need became suddenly obvious — the soil needed to be prepared to accept the crop.

The Result?

Let’s connect the dots…

Like the farmer, today’s business leaders use the power of external service providers and dream that these deals will catapult their capabilities to create long-term value for their firm and its stakeholders.

The Dream?

Most business leaders have focused for years on the same things our farmer focused on: the right team, resources, and the right “deal!”

We spend tons of cash —hiring the brightest people, structuring the contract with the best T&C’s — counting on the fact that people and systems can be treated like machines!

The Reality?

Seems to mirror our poor farmer — lots of money spent, lots of high expectations, and lots of disappointing results.

The solution?

Turn your attention to cultivating a healthy soil — an environment where internal relationships truly connect and our complex service relationships create the space for true innovation and value .

Focusing primarily on a new perfect program or the perfect deal (examples of “our crop”) without considering the system and relationships (the “soil”) where the programs or deal are created contributes to disappointing results.

Systems and relationships must be cultivated within the business and the leaders stewarding these businesses. We must also cultivate the soil externally where these complex service relationships reside, especially within our service provider’s operations and executive teams.

We start with a shared vision…

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. Your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.” — James Allen

Cultural compatibility is essential because trust and transparency between our organizations (both inside and outside the enterprise) will ultimately determine how successful the relationship can become and how much value can be created.

“Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, as we need an entire army of companies to work together to build a better world within the next few decades. This means corporations must embrace the benefits of cooperating with one another.” — Simon Mainwaring

Many business executives have overlooked the importance of the soil and have consequently planted crops that never really flourished.

Planting new crops in different ways will not solve the fundamental issues.

We believe it’s time to focus on what matters:

Building meaningful partnerships inside and outside the organization designed to create relationships capable of delivering true innovation and unforeseen value.

Mazzi Partners



David McGee

Mazzi Partners is focused on changing the very nature of business relationships. I’m its CEO, spiritual explorer, crazy dad/husband, and recovering overachiever