Zen Garden
15Mar 2017
Mar 15, 2017

Collaboration and Teamwork – Mr. Harutos Zen Garden

Collaboration and Teamwork – Mr. Harutos Zen Garden

A bowl of kinetic sand sits on the desk in the front office reception area. On the table beside the desk is a miniature Zen garden surrounded by books about ghost towns, flowers, and various travel locations. Mood music plays softly, just under the voice level in office, adding a soothing ambiance to the environment. Plants of various sizes and shapes are strategically placed in just the right locations to make the atmosphere feel appealing and calm.


Not much has changed in the office in nearly two years, except for the person who sits behind the reception desk; we call this person Mr. Haruto, which means “Best warmth.”

Maybe the office team still isn’t overly excited to come to work every morning, but now they have a different feeling when they first arrive. Rather than focusing on the problems of the day, Mr. Haruto focuses on the positive of each person that enters his reception area. He actively seeks people out, making sure they are recognized, and properly greeted. Each person must know they matter.

Mr. Haruto isn’t normally involved in the day-to-day business planning, nor is he busy tending to the managerial or financial aspects. Rather, his job is to meet and greet business clients and staff; providing direction and communications. He is the customer service hub for many departments, yet he is so much more.

With just a pinch of a smile and a dash of positive energy, Mr. Haruto has single-handedly changed an entire office environment. Haruto’s ZEN garden environment is inspired by his deeply spiritual aspect of Japanese gardening traditions.

The ZEN garden originated in 11th century Japan. The sand of the Zen garden is meant to represent the sea or ocean. It was commonly raked by monks to look like waves in the ocean. Rocks placed in the center, respected islands and/or rock formations in the ocean. The monks would rake the sand into new patterns to simulation the changes that the ocean goes through.
Like our minds when we meditate, we know change is inevitable.

Attitudes of those who enter into Haruto’s office space are quickly transformed, even if only momentarily. Sure, there are still stressors in the office, but Haruto makes sure that each person is treated equally, including the boss. He engages each person one-on-one and motivates him or her to see his or her worth. He is genuinely concerned.


There will always be working relationships where collaboration is not as good as it should be, but as long as the overall team is working toward common goals, communication can increase.

When you work hard to get a task done you feel much more satisfied when people around you appreciate you. So it is important to work toward creating a positive environment. In doing so you help to encourage positive feelings. This has a ripple effect like the waves on the ocean.

Most everyone understands that there will always be difficult co-workers or supervisors. Yet, when we learn to collaborate and offer constructive and positive input to our team, that can be transformational over time. It takes time and training for people to learn to trust one another – even if they don’t like each other.

Keeping an open door policy with those you may disagree with, helps to foster collaboration and build trust. You have to make yourself available, especially if you are the boss. Not unlike the Zen gardens, with the rocks in the middle of the ocean. Employees need a safe haven, and someone they can trust to come to, that will hear their needs.

Your work performance is greatly enhanced when you allow yourself to want to change for the good. You can offer positive help, instead of issuing out negative comments that make others feel they are walking on eggshells. When you do this, you begin to increase everyone’s worth around you. It is hard for others to meet expectations if they are looked down upon or made to feel inferior. You have control over your own behavior; you need to allow yourself to be liked by others. If nothing else, at least respected by others.

It is also important to avoid those situations that put you in the direct path of a confrontation. Steer your team away from focusing on the problem, and ask them to work toward a positive pro-active approach instead. You know the problem, and you need to help guide your team(s) to constructively move toward a goal. Discover what unknowns might have been overlooked, and learn from them. But do not allow negative thinking to bring your team down.

When we rake our own Zen gardens, we create new patterns – it can be calming. There can be growth. You need that type of synergy in your team members. Invest in your own Mr. Haruto. Become Mr. Haruto.


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