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Grow your business 6 April 2020

The 7 habits of highly effective farmers

Stephen Covey selected seven essential habits for great managers. Which of these are on your list as a farmer?

Farmer's Weekly, 26 March 2018

There are some truly inspirational books to help you in your quest to become a great farm manager.

Peter Drucker’s Concept of the Corporation about General Motors is a bit dated now, but it was the first book ever written about ‘management’ as we understand it today.

Drucker realised that there was much more to it than the boss giving orders and everyone following, and in The Practice of Management, as valid today as it was in 1954 when he wrote it, he recognised that the real life-blood of any organisation is the talent and skill of its management.

Books in the same class are In Search of Excellence by Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman (1982), The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (1992), Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras (1994) and Jim Collins’s follow-up, Good to Great (2001), which describes why some businesses make this leap and others don’t.

Seven habits of profitable farmers

Taking a cue from Stephen Covey, here are the seven common characteristics or habits of profitable soya farmers, as identified by American economics professor, Gary Schnitkey:

  1. They are innovative and dive into new ideas
  2. They do their own research with on-farm testing of new technologies and practices
  3. They look at return on investment, not simply yields
  4. They push yields, producing one to two bushels more per acre than their neighbours
  5. They are excellent at cost control
  6. They ask for help to address areas of weakness, making extensive use of consultants
  7. They receive a premium price, whether it’s non-GMO beans or seed bean production

These little gems of farm management wisdom, dressed up as ‘seven habits’, are also found in an IPSOS survey carried out by Lilian Schaer across 604 farms in Canada. With her findings suggesting that these habits had a significant impact on farm profitability.

So, go ahead and form some (good) habits today.

This article originally appeared in Farmer’s Weekly.