I often think about the bull’s eye target that was used to first teach me the difference between consistency and accuracy. Some shooters are very consistent but are not close to the center of the target. Others are very accurate and consistent and hit the center most of the time. I see both situations on the farms that we work with. Most of the folks working on farms have a set routine and way of doing their assigned tasks. Right or wrong they do things they way they have been doing them and get consistent results. The result may be consistently good or consistently bad. When things get bad enough to cause alarm the historical response is to make a laundry list of things to evaluate or change. Sometimes things look better for awhile but if the change is not reinforced then old habits come back.

Recently, I have been trying a different approach to problem solving, leading people through the change. Once the problem has been identified, the situation is explained to everyone involved and why it is important to make changes. The first question everyone wants to know is “How is this going to affect me?” That is an important question to answer in addition to how it will solve the problem and result in consistent, positive future results. Demonstrating the changes and adapting it to fit the constraints of the farm is the next step. The key to implementing a lasting change is follow-up and feedback. Within a week, there has to be feedback and follow-up or the system will start slipping back to the old way. It can take 2-3 months for a new routine to become habit so that consistent, timely feedback is critical to make lasting change.

We work with living organisms and variables that we cannot completely control (weather and feed for example). However, we can approach the other areas of the operation with an attitude of empowerment and engagement so that the results are not only consistent but hitting the center of the target.

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