As winter winds down, so does the meeting season. It seems like every year there are more opportunities for educational events. Think of all the great ideas and concepts you’ve heard over the years at various meetings. How many specific ideas or processes brought home from meetings and seminars have been implemented into your organization?
How do you wade through the flood of information? If you could just apply the best one or two ideas you hear each year, what could that bring to your operation in terms of profitability?
Information Overload. Attending educational events can be like drinking information through a firehose of knowledge. Capturing the most important information is a challenge. Financial analysis, business structure, transition, strategic planning and tons of other information for our businesses are often spewed out in a relatively short amount of time at these events.
Events also feature networking opportunities with our agricultural peers. Some of the best ideas and opportunities come from conversations outside of the structured agenda. A new acquaintance could become a lifelong friend, which could lead to countless opportunities. The business synergy created from conversations between innovative individuals is where new entrepreneurial ideas are discovered.
Yet, such tremendous ideas are often passed over due to the complex and demanding lives we live. It’s easy to talk about tremendous ideas, but far more difficult to implement them. Try following these steps.
- Document: How do you capture information at educational events? For some, note taking is key. Others use cell phones and take pictures of the key slides with pertinent information. Some might review the presentations to recall key ideas or concepts. These are all good examples for capturing the information, but the real art to obtain value from information is in the process of application, not just observation.
- Prioritize: After the meetings, assemble your data and notes so you can rank the best information. For example, assume you attend a two-day meeting on various topics and have a comprehensive set of notes. Don’t stop there. Review the notes and prioritize the 10 most important ideas or concepts. From that list, narrow it down to the five most important items. From that list, pick the most important two or three. Some concepts or ideas might be simple, others more complex. The more complex the idea or concept, the fewer things you might want to tackle at a time.
- Focus: Once you’ve identified the top concepts to apply to your business, it’s time to go to your calendar and record your focus days. Go out 10 days on your calendar and list the item or items from your list. As a result, every 10 days you refocus on that specific concept to make sure you’re on track with applying it to your business. Depending on the concept, you might need to review it more often or possibly stretch the time frame out further. Regardless, make sure you continually have it on your calendar to focus on your progress of application. This process will help you stay accountable to applying the idea. Additionally, it will help you measure your success of application.
- Commit Time: Depending on the complexity of your ideas, some will obviously require more time than others. The point here is to block time off at each focus point to make sure you and your team have enough time to do things correctly. With the busy world we live in, we can’t start new projects without allocating enough time from the beginning.
Winter meetings can bring great ideas to your farm. Turn the top two or three new ideas into action—then results—that you can take to the bank!
Chris Barron is director of operations and president of Carson and Barron Farms Inc. in Rowley, Iowa. He is also a financial consultant for Ag View Solutions and appears regularly as a guest on Farm Journal Media radio and TV affiliates.