The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
If you’re at all into basketball then you’re likely aware of how the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), rolled over Virginia last Friday night. The game was historic. It marked the first time ever in the history of the NCAA men's basketball tournament that a No. 16 seed team beat a No. 1 overall seed.
Depending on what sportscaster you watched or listened to that night, you probably heard that UMBC won because of their magical shooting or because of their relentless defense. If you asked the team’s head coach, Ryan Odom, for his opinion he’d likely tell you it took a combination of both offense and defense to win the game.
So it is in business, says Kevin Eikenberry, a national leadership and management expert. And farming is no exception. Some scenarios require offense, while others need defense. As a farmer, you’re constantly moving back and forth between the two. For instance, this spring you’ll play offense and try to plant as soon as the weather and soil temperatures permit. If it rains in the process--heaven forbid--you’ll play it safe and hold off until the weather clears and soil conditions improve.
Eikenberry says he constantly evaluates business decisions and challenges by asking himself which strategy he needs to use at the time. Often, it’s not either/or but both that's needed (in the chart below you can read his descriptions of offense and defense). He also asks himself these three questions in the process:
Which is my subconscious habit, to play offense or defense?
Which will serve me best, most often in reaching my goals for the year, playing offense or defense?
Which will serve me best for the situation or decision I face right now, playing offense or defense?
“Whatever your answers, make sure you don’t ignore what you didn’t choose,” Eikenberry says in his newsletter, Leadership & Learning (bit.ly/2FOjeGA). “If you choose to focus on offense, there will be a time when defense is needed and vice versa. Asking the question will however make you more intentional and likely more successful in whatever context you use it.”
Offense means . . .
Defense means . . .
• Being proactive
• Being reactive
• Improving processes
• Solving problems
• Playing to win
• Playing it safe
• Maximizing return
• Minimizing risk
• Trying something new
• Maintaining what you have
• Creating new Customers
• Focusing on the competition