Dairies often undergo significant organizational change. For example, the dairy may expand or diversify, add or remove a major section or practice, such as calf- and heifer-raising, or it may change the very nature by which it operates by becoming more vertically integrated in the food chain.

A dairy goes through various life cycles, just like people do.

Leaders and managers on dairies should try to accomplish successful and significant change on a continual basis, although it’s important to achieve consistency in certain production and business practices when it comes to dairying. Some people are very good at this, others continually struggle and fail. It’s often the difference between people who are successful in their roles and those who go from job to job, ultimately settling into roles where they’re frustrated and ineffective. 

Top management must analyze the organization and identify critically important priorities to address — systemic problems, change initiatives and emerging issues. Then, the managers must undertake successful and significant change to address those priorities.

Taking an organizational-development approach will help accomplish this. 

Here is a description of an organizational development model for a dairy operation:

Leadership is at the center of it all, because effective leadership propels, initiates and drives all of the other strategic components listed here. 

Strategy helps describe the bigger picture as far as the vision and mission that have been defined for the business. It describes what the business intentions are, the purpose, where it is heading, and the strategies or objectives that will help achieve the  vision.

Climate describes the culture of the organization — how the company does things, understood norms, what is valued, and how the behaviors of people align to those values.

Talent pertains to the attitude, skills, and knowledge base of the people — all the way from the chief executive to the most recently hired workers. The talent pool is heavily affected by the way dairies hire, train and develop their people.

Connections are the communication links that exist between people, work processes and physical assets. 

Work systemhelps define the entire dairy, including the inputs being brought in and those produced on the dairy, the processes, procedures, protocols, controls and checklists that are used to accomplish the work and to produce an output (milk, cows, nutrients, heifers).

Metrics measure the efficiencies, the key performance indicators and accomplishment of goals. They help keep people accountable for the work they do and the ending results.

As your dairy farm business continues to evolve, taking an organizational development approach will you manage the entire system and raise the bar even further.

Jorge Estrada is an organizational development consultant and leadership coach with Leadership Coaching International, Inc. He can be reached at (360) 481-0133 or Jorge@leaders-coaching.com