Where do new ideas go on your farm?

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This is your farm’s only true competitive advantage
What goes through your mind when someone on your farm brings up a new idea or a new way to do something? People seem to have a couple different reactions when a new approach gets brought up.

For some people, it’s very exciting to think and hear about new ideas. They love to hear about and talk about them. These people may look at the new idea as a way to potentially improve a practice or process on the farm. The idea is simply a way to keep getting better.

Others may not feel that way. The idea may appear like a threat rather than a vehicle for making something even better. It may feel like a threat to the certainty we believe comes with always doing things a particular way. It may feel like a threat to ourselves or our job if we are the one who originally came up with the way the farm is currently doing something.

We often need to learn more before we can make a good decision about whether or not an idea is right for our farm. Because each farm operation is unique, not every new idea will benefit or help improve a particular farm operation. Decision-makers on the farm need to put an idea through an evaluation process before accepting or rejecting a new idea.

Next generation ideas
New ideas can come from anyone on your farm and from a variety of outside sources. Going to events, reading, talking with other farmers and businesspeople – these are all great sources for new ideas.

Here’s a situation I frequently hear about approaches to new ideas on the farm: A farmer from the next generation has come back to work on the farm from another job or straight out of college.

The younger farmer often brings some new ideas they’re excited about. They want to put the ideas to work on the family farm. But often, they’re met with resistance or hesitation from others on the farm who have questions or reservations.

That can sometimes lead to frustrations on the part of the younger generation, feeling like their ideas and input aren’t valued. Of course, this can happen the other way around, too – ideas brought forth by the older generation that are questioned by the younger generation.

Process for new ideas
I think the key to being smart about new ideas and how they will or won’t be adopted on your farm is to take seriously the ideas that are brought forward. Though certainly not all ideas will be implemented, your farm can gain a significant advantage through encouraging new ideas and using a process to consider each idea.

Create a process through which new ideas on your farm will be evaluated. This might include efforts to first learn more about the idea and how it could be implemented on the farm, as well as an evaluation of whether your farm would benefit from adopting it.

Keeping on top of new ideas and practices can help an operation stay ahead of the curve – by learning faster and adapting more quickly than your competition. And that’s the only true competitive advantage any business can have.

Originally published at FarmFutures.com