Planning is a daily exercise for most people, with a lot of plans being made on the run.
This can result in sub-optimal decisions, but the decision-maker does not realise it. While planning and implementation are two different things, if you do the former well, the latter becomes so much easier.
Decision-making usually falls into three categories - strategic, tactical and operational.
Strategic decisions require good research and a thorough assessment. To do this justice, time needs to be set aside to do the high-level thinking that is required.
I believe that farmers need to have five fundamental plans written down if they are to achieve their potential and have some work-life balance. These are a business, personal, succession, estate and a retirement plan. These plans are highly dependent on each other and need to be underpinned by a profitable business.
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Succession is by far and away the most difficult plan to devise. From my experience, the quality of the family members' relationships has the biggest impact on the outcome.
There is always a degree of compromise in making decisions, because every member of the family or business has differing views and pressures in life. For a good decision to be made, a high level of respect is required for all the people sitting at the table.
Trying to make good decisions when the relationships are broken is a recipe for disaster.
If I arrived at a farmer's property and informed him or her that several wires were broken in the fence along the front road, they would rush down and fix it straight away, so the stock would not get out. If I then said they needed to fix a relationship, they would put it in the too hard basket.
Decisions involving people are usually the hardest but the most important and rewarding if you get it right.
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Most do not try to fix a relationship because they find it stressful, don't have the skills or fear they may make it worse. Mending relationships quite often requires a third person to be involved to keep the behaviour tidy and ensure the individuals play the ball and not the person.
So, if you are in a business where a relationship is holding you back, what is the first step? I would recommend you have a good discussion with a third-party person who you highly respect and is skilled in this area, and devise a plan to follow. Maybe you could have a professional person come and address the family on relationship building and out of that have agreements and follow-up activities.
Out of this meeting you could come up with a list of non-negotiables that would reduce or eliminate the behaviours that are holding back the business and your life.
Having the courage to start the process will be the hardest thing to achieve but if you keep doing what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got - and really that is not an option.
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