I am pretty certain that when you look at the plans, you will vote in favor of Plan B. We in agriculture are very efficiency- and profit-focused. In the sales world, however, maximizing total sales can be justified on the basis of building the customer base to generate future profits. If total sales was the goal, the board would choose Plan A.
Now let’s look at the situation while assuming that the board has not clarified the company’s goal. Some board members are profit driven and choose Plan A; others think sales are more important and advocate for Plan B. Not only do we have a disagreement, but more importantly, we have no way — no criteria — for settling the disagreement. There is no framework to guide the discussion and lead to a collaborative board decision.
This rather simple example illustrates the situation a farm or other business is in when the vision/mission has not been clarified. The owners have no framework for collaboratively making decisions; the employees also have no basis for making decisions. I often comment that in the absence of a common vision, almost every decision becomes a battle over the common vision because each person is advocating their solution based on their often very different vision for the farm.
So now we know “the vision thing” is real. The challenge is to make it concrete — real — for everyone in the business, both so they can use it as the framework to make decisions in the best interest of the farm and because it provides meaning to each person. For this to happen, farm owners and leaders must clearly articulate the vision/mission, continually communicate it to everyone and use it in making and explaining actions and decisions.
Leadership Lesson: Joining the journey to the dairy farm vision provides the meaning that motivates owners, family members and employees to excel.
Bob Milligan is Senior Consultant with Dairy Strategies LLC and Professor Emeritus at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-647-0495.