As you approach a problem, how do you go about deciding what you will do? What is your framework for decision making? Decision making can be broken down into steps as follow:
1. Define the problem so you and anyone else who needs to know about it knows what it is.
2. What is the desired outcome? Do you all agree?
3. Consider the alternatives. Be flexible in alternatives and open to new ideas as well. No matter what the problem was, I always like when an employee or family member has an idea for the solution as well. If I don't hear one, I will ask for one. More minds to solve a problem are usually beneficial.
4. What are the pluses and minuses to each? Financial implications are critical. Depending on the scope of the problem, could a wrong decision put us at risk?
5. Reach a consensus if necessary and make the decision. The reality of decision making on the farm is that no one else can make the decision for you. This may not be just one person but the management team, the family, owners or partners. Delaying decisions because of indecisiveness is rarely beneficial. However, you do need a plan or method to evaluate decisions. Learn from mistakes and correct them or modify the plan and then re-evaluate.
Who makes the decisions on your farm? Many decisions are made every day. Most do not involve more than one person involved in the task. Even on larger operations, if protocols and SOPs (standard operating procedures) are in place, much of the decision making is done already. But what about the big decisions?
Decisions such as buying land, building new facilities, buying machinery. How about some of the smaller decisions: bull selection, cropping plans, corn hybrid selection, teat dips, milk replacer? Do you allow the people responsible in their areas to make those decisions?