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Tips for Better Decision Making and Execution

Bob LeCocq
Educational Opportunities: 
Dairy, Young, Beginning Farmers
Home > Education & Events > June 2018 > Tips for Better Decision Making and Execution

As a Dairy Specialist for Compeer Financial, my primary focus has always been to assist clients in good decision making. Those in the dairy industry, face complex issues that can easily lead to consequences affecting their finances, operational stability and transition of the business.

Of course we know that we need to make good decisions; many producers are good at it too. However, I see it as a challenge and an opportunity. In my experience, making good decisions usually requires a long-term approach. It can often be helpful to work backwards from our desired objective and then develop the strategy and tactics needed to get there.

One method of identifying goals is through benchmarking.  Benchmarking helps recognize an industry standard for production and finances, based on a period of time, looking at size and location of a group. Understanding the best practices of the top 25% of participants – helps producers understand how to improve their operation.

There can be a large variance between those at the top or the bottom, which can sometimes skew the numbers. Oftentimes, when reviewing a database, group members ask why there is such big difference within a group. At Compeer, we conduct annual benchmarking studies of our dairy clients, which helps us identify the most efficient methods, the best ways to improve production and the most beneficial cost inputs.

Aside from benchmarking, what tactics can we employ to make good decisions and execute on them?  There are lots of philosophies out there, but I’ve narrowed down three resources I think are worth considering.

1. Erik Larson, contributor for Forbes, has this to say, “Business leaders have treated decision making like a mystical art, an arcane instinct hidden in our guts. Yet improved decision making drives business performances and employee engagement, and unlocks the business value of diversity. We end up with tons of data, few correlations and no causes. That’s no way to run a business. That’s also no way to lead a business.”

2. Business Consultant, Matt Lange at Compeer Financial reminds us that it is important to remember that decision-making and execution of the decision are simply part of a greater process, whether part of idea development or in answering a question of business direction. If analysis and evaluation were clearly done on the forefront, the decision is merely the outcome of that work. Steps are also determined and laid out to put the decision into action. Execution is carrying out those steps to completion. Remembering this helps keep decision-making and execution in perspective that they are simply part of a greater plan.

3. Mike Fassler, Principal at the The Family Business Consulting Group says that in his experience with family businesses, the ingredients for ensuring execution and follow-through on decisions which are made by ownership and management teams are:
  • Ownership alignment on goals – agree on WHAT you are trying to accomplish
  • Clarity regarding authority to act – agree on WHO is responsible
  • Accountability to deliver – a personal commitment by each team member to do what they said they would do
“With these ingredients in place, ownership and management teams execute in ways which build relationships and financial strength.”

I encourage you to embrace the decision making process as a high priority, but don’t overcomplicate it to the point of paralysis. There is a time to decide and a time to act. You will not have all the information needed to make a perfect plan, so don’t waste time or energy doing it. Take time to evaluate options and possible outcomes, but then pull the trigger. Make a decision and create enough flexibility in your decision to account for contingencies.

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