Do you ever feel like your operation needs some fresh thinking? I do. That’s precisely why I read so many different books and publications…to get great new ideas. Maybe it’s time to change our thinking in the Dairy Industry NOW!! Seth Godin, in his book The Big Moo, explained his thoughts on organizations. This can include your business, your bank, your vendors, and even your milk cooperative

“The most effective way to manage change successfully is to create it.” One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it. In a period of upheavals, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm. To be sure, it is painful and risky, and above all it requires a great deal of very hard work. But unless it is seen as the task of the organization to lead change, the organization will not survive. In a period of rapid structural change, the only ones who survive are the change leaders. A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, knows how to find the right changes, and knows how to make them effective both outside the organization and inside it.

On our way to an important bank meeting, my client turned to me and said, “I wish I had more time to prepare for this – I’ve been so busy I didn’t do a thing for the meeting.” “Are you kidding?” I asked. Busy? Doing what? So we analyzed it: 84 hours per week at the dairy, 21 hours firefighting, and 18 hours in meetings!

Where do you really want to be in five years? In ten years? How can you get there? What will it take to succeed in reaching those goals?

Remember the song entitled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”? Humorous? Yes, you couldn’t help but smile when you heard it! Wish you could do so? Yes. Realistic? Probably Not!

This is a question many people are asking. I believe it’s something we need to be looking at regularly. As far as when you should fix them, that depends on many factors.

We’ve talked previously about setting goals! There are benefits to being prepared for crises that can occur in your business. We need to have a plan in place for these types of challenges.

Futurists Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, in their book The 500 Year Delta, stated that every business should develop a “Disaster Agenda”. While all of us are faced with negative challenges and nobody wants to dwell on them, we would be well served if we have given these situations some forethought. This is true for a crisis that might occur in any part of your operation: herd health, nutrition, facilities, management, or finances.

What a tumultuous year! The last twelve months in the dairy industry looked like a cross between two of Dr. Seuss’ children’s books. On the one hand, it parallels If I Ran the Circus with its irrational supply and demand, particularly on commodities that are plentiful in comparison with their current usage, yet remain overpriced. On the other hand, our industry scenario seems to be replicating Stop That Ball with an economy that appears relatively lifeless, yet in other ways seems completely out of control when we look at the painful process of loan approvals and the dramatic changes in real estate. Hopefully, things will be appearing more normal again soon!

David Allen, in his book entitled Ready for Anything stated:

“You won’t see how to do it until you see yourself doing it. Our brain’s pattern-recognition mechanism is triggered by the images you identify with and the focus you hold. You see the outcome first, and then you are unconsciously made conscious of information. If you won’t see yourself having or doing something until you see how to do it, you’ll never recognize the methods, though they are all around you. Notice what you notice and how you make that happen.”

One of the most common problems faced by many businesses today revolves around their ability to obtain financing they need. This challenge becomes even more pronounced when we are faced with a tight lending environment. This has been compounded by the Sub Prime Mortgage mess and its related financial issues! This certainly magnifies the importance of maintaining a solid banking relationship.