This winter, learning opportunities called the Water Street EDGE farm business seminars will be held across the Midwest. At those seminars, speakers will focus on key skills and practices that help farmer attendees give their operations a competitive edge. I’ll preview a few of the topics in this blog over the next couple weeks.
One focus at the seminar will be: what’s currently shaping and driving the decision-making and direction of your farm business. You’ll have the opportunity to ask yourself: What’s really influencing the decisions I’m making on my farm – and how can I take my operation where I want it to be in the future?
That’s not necessarily something we stop to think about each day on the farm when we’re making tough management decisions or setting priorities for ourselves and the people we’re managing. But I think it’s something that the most successful farms of the future are thinking about now.
One way many farmers tend to approach decisions is relying mainly on a gut feeling. Maybe that approach worked well for us in the past. Maybe we saw previous generations on the farm making decisions that way – so it became our default mode.
Another approach is more data-driven – looking carefully at how a particular decision will affect the farm’s overall financial outlook. Maybe we feel the need to get all the facts before we’ll make a decision.
That’s a very logic-driven approach, but it can create ‘analysis paralysis’ – the inability to make a decision because there’s too much information and data to wade through. It can start to feel like we’re drowning in the data, as we try to analyze it all at once.
The middle way
There’s a middle ground here – it comes from using a mix of thinking. Consider your past experiences managing your operation, look at relevant data and numbers, and then use your judgment to help decide what to do.
Considering what’s shaping your direction is the first step to awareness of how you’re making decisions on your farm – and of what’s driving your decision-making. When you’re clear on the key factors shaping your decisions, you can choose to continue in the same way, or make changes in your approach to get a better result.
At the Water Street EDGE seminars this winter, family business expert Jolene Brown will ask attendees to consider what’s shaping their farm’s business direction and decision-making. She’ll share some of the key things that influence farm businesses today – and some ways to identify what’s driving the needs of the customers of farms, too.
Speakers will also dive into financial decision-making and examine the data and information that can help as you make major decisions for the future of your operation. Find an event near you – and plan to attend and develop your farm’s edge this winter.