How to Reduce Time-Suckers on Your Farm

January 8, 2013 09:05 PM

Reduce time-suckers on your farm to improve results

Which items on your to-do list do you dread? Do you delay a task because it’s harder than it needs to be? When tasks are too complex, you waste time and lose motivation, says Susan Hite of Hite Resources, a certified facilitator of complexity reduction for Bayer CropScience in the U.S.

In November, Hite spoke at the 2012 Executive Women in Agriculture conference in Chicago about the complexity reduction program that she developed for Bayer, based on the book From Complexity to Simplicity by Simon Collinson and Melvin Jay.

"Reducing complexity is a simple, yet profound way to reduce stress and increase profits on your farming operation," Hite says. Below are nine behaviors that hinder progress. Once you identify which behaviors you or those within your farming operation exhibit, you can begin to eliminate unnecessary complexity.

Hite says the best way to start reducing complexity is to lead by example. "You have to model the  way. Demonstrate your commitment to show you are always making things simpler yourself and improving your own behaviors."

Also, realize that this is an ongoing process. "Continually challenging anything is not simple," Hite says. "Keep asking: Is this the simplest way?"


This includes making minor changes that do not add up to something substantially better. Make sure you recognize when something is good enough, and stop trying to make it 100% perfect.


Do you make the decision-making process more intellectual than it needs to be? Determine which details are important, make a decision based on the facts and be ready to act.


You can always improve a process or product. But creating a new way of doing something just for the sake of trying something new can be a waste of both time and energy. Determine what you do well enough and what needs improvement, and move on.


When multiple people are involved in an operation, you might think you need to get everyone’s approval. Rather than confronting an issue directly, you focus on the politics. Don’t sweep big decisions under the rug.


Trust is a huge motivator. Do you have processes in place to "manage" people rather than enable them to do the work? Remove these, then trust those around you to hold up their end of the task.


The last time a meeting took twice as long as expected, what was the cause? Was it because the agenda was all over the place and you were focused on too many small projects or activities? Prioritize and focus your efforts on tasks that matter.


In hopes of having the last word, we will often add more words, bigger words, more stages or more points to an already perfect plan. Or we might just repeat what the last person said. Cut the extra words and steps to equal more action. When you hear a good idea, go with it and don’t complicate it.


When you fail to set a clear direction from the start during a meeting or new project, discussion can quickly result in your wandering aimlessly in the wrong direction. Identify your objective and stick to it.


How many irons do you have in the fire? Taking advantage of a new opportunity is great—just be sure to remove something less important from your responsibilities first.

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