Traditionally the decision maker on a family farm is the founder. This model worked for many generations, but when you are looking to keep the farm in the family, a collaborative style where decision making power is shared can create a stronger business plan.
The following ideas can help you take a closer look at how decisions are made on your family farm.
Who is influencing the decisions. Make a list of all the people that hold interest in your family farm. Of course, this list will include all the working members of your immediate family, but ask everyone to add to the list anyone they look to for guidance on the farm. Think of the herdsman, breeder, financial lender, contractor, vendors, veterinarian, among others. The truth is the people you consult influence the decisions made on the farm.
Create a visual aid. The next step is to create a visual to fully understand who makes the decisions on your farm. Creating a circular map is a good way for everyone to see who is impacting your farming practices, views and day to day actions. Place the names of those in charge of the farm in the center. Place the next layer of influencers outside this circle. This may include contractors, vendors, and your financial lenders. Finally, add the background influencers, such as government agencies and the community at large.
Look at the big picture. Assess the values that drive the decisions made on your farm. Have everyone in the inner circle make a list of what they consider to be the top values and see how they line up with one another. Getting clear on what drives decisions can give everyone the meaning and purpose they need to make choices that line up with the big picture.
Deal with family dynamics. Recognize the value of everyone in the inner circle. Strengthen and increase the longevity of your family farm by delegating decisions to your team. When people feel invested in the company, whether that is emotionally or through being an actual financial stakeholder, they will deliver higher quality work.
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