Well we are coming to the end of the year. And what a year it has been! While many have really struggled with the unchartered times, I have thoroughly enjoyed this year. Not only did it give me time to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life that really matter – spending quality time with my family without checking my phone for emails – I also for the first time truly appreciated and enjoyed the beauty of our farm – having picnics in paddocks under trees among our cows, swims in our river, looking for bugs with the kids, making leaf pictures, making tree huts and so on.
But importantly, it made everyone realise how quickly we can suddenly adapt when needed. Almost overnight people around the world were forced to challenge the status quo and change how they did things. What we thought was not doable before was suddenly made possible the next day. It just proved that even if we think something is not possible to change, if we really want to we can change it. I take this back to our farm business and why lean is so powerful.
Lean is based on some fundamental principles – Continuous Improvement and Teamwork. Continuous Improvement is made up of three pillars – Challenge the Status Quo, Go Look See (Genchi Genbutsu) , and Kaizen (continuous improvement in small steps). The first one underpins the ability to continuously improve and adapt to the changing needs around us. If we are unable to challenge our status quo we cannot improve. As farmers whether we like it or not our world is changing – consumer demands and expectations of farmers and produce is changing, technology is changing, economics and policy is changing, environmental expectations are changing, people needs and employment requirements are changing. Simply put the business landscape is changing. And we need to adapt and change the way we do things to ensure that we stay relevant and resilient, are able to meet tougher legislations and requirements, make our work places attractive to young people coming into the industry, connect with our consumers and give them what they want rather than what we think they want, and importantly create enjoyable, profitable businesses.
Challenging the status quo is tough. Accepting that we are not perfect and that there are better ways we can be working can be a hard pill for farmers to swallow. But its an important one. We all need to ask ourselves: what do we want from this business? what would perfect look like? what do we want to achieve? What are we doing and why? What do we need to change? What do we need to do differently? And finally How can we make happen? Remember nothing is impossible – it just about thinking differently and asking ok how do we make this possible?
This is my challenge to you for next year. Ask yourself these questions and challenge your status quo.
I am taking a break for the next few weeks and will be back next year. In the meantime I wish you all a wonderful Christmas period and a very Happy New Year and if you find yourself is a situation where you can’t take time off to spend with your family – then get yourself a copy of my book for Christmas and read it!! www.theleandairyfarm.com