Notes From Owen



By now, I hope you have your fall crops in the bin and that harvest yields were good to you.  As the holidays approach, I want to wish you and your families all the best as we move into the new year.

As the new year approaches, and another business cycle begins, we have selected a theme around “Planning” for this edition of the Flyer.   Whether you are a sports fan or not, I think we can learn a lot about the role of “Planning” in business from the sports world.   In leading our mutual businesses to success in the coming year, we could use the recipe of many successful sports general managers, which is:  Good Players + Good Tools + Good Coaching + Good Attitudes = Winning Results.

GOOD PLAYERS   Successful sports teams and successful businesses both start with the essential element of recruiting and retaining good people.   Because “attitude” is so essential for our employees to be successful, combined with the difficulty we all have in hiring skilled people these days, the best approach may be to “hire for attitude and train for skill”.

GOOD TOOLS   The best sports teams have a detailed game plan that can be adjusted depending on the challenges they encounter in each game.   A good game plan in our business also helps new employees learn new skills faster because their job requirements are outlined in the plan.  Good tools also include utilizing all the data from previous crop cycles to adjust this year’s plan for optimum production performance.

GOOD COACHING   Good coaches on sports teams develop the players and stick to the game plan.  The most important trait of a good coach is communication. It is said we learn 10% from what we read;  20% from what we hear; and 30% with what we do or practice. But we combine ways of learning, we learn 50% from what we see AND hear;   80% from what we practice; and 90% from what we hear, see and practice….so communication with our employees, in all these different ways, is vitally important!

GOOD ATTITUDE   With challenges that face production agriculture today, maintaining a “good attitude” can be difficult, but remember, attitudes on a sports team or in our mutual businesses, start at the top.  Are problems viewed as “disasters” or “opportunities”? Do we “fix the problem” or “fix the blame”? Good attitudes start individually and then spread contagiously throughout the organization.

WINNING RESULTS   In sports and in business our goal is to end up in the best position possible.   The real challenge in our agricultural businesses is simply to learn how to keep getting better and better each year.   Making use of all available information, relying on your experience and your team’s experience and enlisting the help of your trusted advisors are the keys to making the next growing season a winner.

In conclusion, I hope you don’t find these thoughts on planning to be any more than a collection of random thoughts on a cold Sunday afternoon watching the Broncos and reflecting on the similarities between their formula for success and running a successful John Deere dealership or managing the complex businesses  many of you operate today.

As always, thank you for your business this past year and I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a safe and prosperous new year.


Owen Palm