California has been in its worst drought ever, with far-reaching implications, including the inability for many farmers to sustain profitable businesses.

Growing avocados requires a lot of water, as compared to most fruits and vegetables; 74.1 gallons of irrigated water to grow a pound of fruit (Source: Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2010).

For over a hundred years, avocado farmers have been following certain best practices. So when faced with water restrictions and increased costs for the water they needed to grow their crops, some farmers went out of business, while others began to think and act differently.

Historically, avocado trees have been planted 20 feet apart from each other and allowed to grow big and tall. However, NPR News recently reported that Gary Bender, a University of California avocado specialist and farm advisor in San Diego County, experimented with planting trees at just 10 feet apart, pruning the trees regularly, keeping the trees short and fat. What resulted from following these new techniques was that they actually produced twice the yield of fruit with less water!

Ok, I enjoy a good avocado, but what I really love is business and the lessons we learn!

Does complacency limit our thinking and results? Are we operating from assumptions that may not have been tested?

Faced with challenges, perhaps we think most creatively and take more risks? I’ve always been a believer in having good systems and processes, along with best practices. However, left unchallenged, how do we know there isn’t a better way?

Let’s not wait for a drought or other external crisis to challenge our thinking.

Go enjoy an avocado and consider how this lesson may apply to you and your business.