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February 2010 Archive for Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

A First Step on the Road to Permanence

Feb 26, 2010
The second episode of “Leave a Legacy” is in the can---recorded and ready for editing. As I pen this entry, I’m sitting at Midway in Chicago waiting for a plane, and recounting the preceding days. It’s been another whirlwind tour filled with rehearsals, presentations, meetings, tapings and study.  

The Farm Journal Legacy Project is an all-consuming labor of love. This outreach will change the world for each and every person involved… 
-  For those working on the inside---at Farm Journal Media, Pioneer and Legacy by Design…
-  For those who participate on an information level---viewers of AgDay/US Farm Report, readers of Farm Journal and Top Producer, net users at AgWeb, and workshop participants…
- And, obviously, for those families who choose to take a constructive role in creating and implementing a succession plan. 
Succession is a life-altering process. Some engagements can be as simple as an ownership transition and retirement planning. Others involve a complete remodel of a family’s financial security, legal foundation and business structure---in addition to the requisite ownership transition and leadership development. Either way, the benefits are innumerable and, with refinement, ‘succession’ becomes an effective method of business development---eventually permeating the fabric of the operation’s culture.
Leave a Legacy TV  (Schedule and Local Listings)
 To watch the latest episode of Leave a Legacy TV,
click on image below and select Thursday, February 25th.






Every Family's Conundrum

Feb 23, 2010

From Legacy Moment eNewsletter (February 19, 2010)

Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday.

Fair versus equal is a recurring theme. It affects everything, and solutions are unique to each family. My next Leave a Legacy column in Farm Journal will again address this issue. In response to a reader’s question, I said this:

Q. You say equal isn’t fair and fair isn’t equal. Can you provide a specific example?

A. The nature of life is neither equal nor fair. Trying to alter that premise using ownership distributions may result in a complete loss of the family operation. The equal versus fair conundrum creates havoc in 100% of our succession planning cases…

While this polite reader thanked me for the commentary; I clearly missed the mark. He went on…

"Thanks for this extra commentary. I appreciate receiving it. It does not quite do what I am looking for, which I think may be a search for an objective way to measure fairness."

So, the real question remains. Is it possible to find a more equitable solution to the "fair versus equal conundrum?" Are there specific factors which can/should be taken into consideration when reviewing the contribution of each child in the operation, such as:

Tenure – The length of service an active family member may have dedicated to the operation.

Performance – A measure of the job performance of each person in the operation.

Professional development – Recognition of and reward for a person who enhances job capabilities through education, experience or vocational training.

Skills and abilities – Appropriate compensation for those who have developed a valuable specialization.

Please refer to the "Fair Versus Equal Exercise." Does it help to categorize and then quantify the contributions of each active family member?

 More on Equal versus Fair:

Don't miss 'Leave a Legacy' TV on Thursday, February 25th.
Click below for full schedule and local listings.





The List of Common Objectives

Feb 19, 2010

Creating, defining and then sharing a list of common objectives is one of the keys to succession planning success. The Legacy Moment eNewsletter of January 22nd discussed the broad objectives of succession planning; it suggested that you complete the Goals Clarification Worksheet and begin to define your objectives. (Sign up for weekly eNews here.)

Using the worksheet (excerpt below), write sentences (I call them word pictures) to refine, focus and then share your objectives.

For example:

  • We will incrementally transition responsibilities to the next generation (successive manager[s])
    over the next _10_ years.
  • To increase management capabilities, we will utilize:
    ____ Formal education
    _X__ Various experiences
    _X__ Seminars/workshops/extension programs
    ____ Mentors
    _X__ Strategic alliance partners
  • Management control will be passed to: ___Therese________

From the example, we may write three very specific objectives:
  1. We’ll transition managerial control to Therese over the next 10 years.
  2. We will employ specific experiences, seminars, workshops and training programs to help her prepare for the role.
  3. We’ll enlist a number of our strategic alliance partners to assist in the development process – including our accountant and the banker.

If this seems rather simplistic, it is – that’s by design. Using simple, definitive statements which everyone can read and understand is important crea
tes a team approach, encourages buy-in and makes respective parties accountable. 
More on Goal Setting:
Don't miss 'Leave a Legacy' TV on Thursday, February 25th.
Click below for full schedule and local listings.








Goals for Succession Planning

Feb 16, 2010

In a recent presentation, you mentioned that most family farmers have three general goals for succession planning. Can you explain what you mean?

A. Most farmers and agribusiness owners seem to have a good idea of what they want to achieve when they think about succession. Yet their ideas may be a bit fuzzy and undefined. As they describe their desires, they use general terms and tend to say "you know" a lot.


  • Maintain the Operational Integrity
  • Enhance the Family's Financial Security
  • Prepare the Next Generation to Lead

The struggle comes in trying to turn intentions into goals, goals into actions and actions into results. The more I learn about people, succession and the family dynamic, it is increasingly apparent that nothing happens without specific goals and objectives. If we can help you create specific goals, you can take the action necessary to move to the next step.

Using the Goals Clarification Worksheet at www.FarmJournalLegacyProject.com, I’ve compiled a series of questions to help you become more specific. Take a few moments and consider your situation; answer the questions and note your responses. Then ask your spouse, parents and active children to do the same. Compare answers and see how your succession goals align.

 To watch premier episode of Leave a Legacy TV,
click on the image below...

More on Goal Setting:

  •     How to Know When It's Time  - Leave a Legacy, Mid-November 2009
  •     The Miracle of Commitment – Leave a Legacy, Mid-February 2009
  •     A Springboard for the Future–  Leave a Legacy, February 2008



Overcoming Obstacles

Feb 05, 2010

He’s one of my favorite authors. Whenever a challenge seems insurmountable, I refer to James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh. This little book is both instructional and inspirational. It is motivating and reassuring. It is founded in principle and full of advice. As I sat down to write this entry, I flipped to a highlighted section and started reading, 

“Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome), the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and thi
s will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.”
Have you ever noticed how often you may have to re-live a difficult, seemingly insurmountable challenge? Well, this passage speaks directly to that circumstance. Challenges are the fire that temper the ‘mettle’ of a person’s will.
The root of succession planning is success. To achieve success in any endeavor, a person must overcome obstacles---grow and strengthen
More on Overcoming Obstacles:

To watch premier episode of
Leave a Legacy TV, click on image below.





They Still Suit Up On Sunday

Feb 02, 2010

As you read this, America is gearing up for the Super Bowl. As the season came to a close, the playoff teams faced-off and ad agencies were hard at work creating the next Super-blockbuster… and we all love those commercials, right?

In the waning days of the regular season and throughout the playoffs it became increasingly clear that no team could beat the Colts or the Saints. Both teams had spectacular seasons that culminated in an invite to the big show. The prognosticators can’t be blamed if they pick either one of these ‘sure bets.’  (Wondering where I stand? I’m a Packers fan through and through. Always have been, always will be.)
No matter who’s favored, and in spite of current standings, star players, injuries and Vegas odds, the National Football League still requires them to suit-up and play sixty minutes of football before they declare a winner.

So, when does a winning season start? Is it draft day, the first day of training camp, Tuesday morning practice – or was it many years prior when Peyton was drafted out of college or Drew ended up injured in San Diego?  

What goes into a winning team, and who affects the outcome of the game? Is it based on strategy, the front office, the coaching staff, a bit of pride or is it the environment created by the personnel mix? We know why they suit up, but how do they execute a winning season?

The parallels may not be immediately obvious, but some operations find themselves in a constant struggle for survival while others look like perennial winners. What goes into a winning business strategy, and who influences the results? I contend it’s everyone and everything. Vince Lombardi said, "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
Enjoy the game and, as you do, consider how you may create a winner and ensure a lasting legacy.
And, for my fellow Green Bay fans: there’s always next year.

More Resources Through the Farm Journal Legacy Project 


To watch premier episode of Leave a Legacy TV,
click on image below and select Thursday, January 28th.





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