I just returned home from leading a couple of strategic planning workshops at the Tomorrow’s Top Producer Conference in Nashville, TN. I was so encouraged by the level of participation from young men and women in production agriculture. As an industry,we have a strong ‘pipeline’ of talent, even though we probably wish there were more interested, ambitious young people out there ready to farm. 

In my sessions, we worked through strategic planning using an abbreviated approach I like to call ‘Your Strategic Plan on a Page’. One participant mentioned that while he liked the process, he wondered if strategy was what he should spend his time on right now. I argue that strategy is always important-a lack of strategic direction leads to stagnation. But, don’t just take it from me, consider what The Wall Street Journal says in a recent special report. “The single greatest reason companies get into trouble is because CEO’s are bad at strategy,” writes Cesare R. Maindari for WSJ. He goes onto to mention that some companies might appear healthy -and may be performing well in other areas such as operational excellence and reacting to market conditions-but their failure to add strategy into the mix eventually leads to disaster. He calls this the ‘strategy to execution gap’. 

One way to improve strategy is to start at the beginning - with yourself! “Commit to an identity. Define one’s self by what one does, not just by what one sells,” Maindari says. 

In agriculture, this can be translated as  'define oneself by what one does, not by what one grows'.

I encourage you to think about the distinction between being a person or an operation that grows crops or raises livestock and being person or operation that does something. 

-Sarah Beth Aubrey, A.C.T. Aubrey Coaching and Training, can be reached at sarah@sarahbethaubrey.com or www.sarahbethaubrey.com

Posted on June 22, 2016 .