Our own values help us make decisions about our farms – how we want to operate, whether we prioritize volume or quality, what role we want our employees to play. The owner and successor will share some values likely, but they will also value some different things. Since values guide our decisions, agreeing on goals for the farm requires owners and successors discuss values first.
Assessing your tolerance for risk
Our individual appetite for risk also guides our decision-making on the farm so it’s an important topic for owners and successors to discuss. If an owner is anxious to make some big changes to the operation while the successor would rather maintain status quo, they’re going to have a hard time setting shared goals for the farm.
So you need to discuss how you each feel about risk to make goal-setting for the farm possible.
I'm prepared with my successor to rate our family values and discuss our tolerance levels for risk. Owners and successors should fill out the form individually and discuss results. Pay particular attention to the discrepancies you find between your scores.
Now that you have filled out the Family Values & Comfort Level Worksheet and discussed the discrepancies, mark complete and continue on.
Setting goals and objectives
Setting goals and objectives for the farm isn’t complicated but you do need to understand what they are.
Goals are general targets you set for the farm. They aren’t overly specific but they do provide you a very clear idea of where the farm is going. Goals establish your general direction. They usually start with an action word and identify general outcomes. Here are some examples of strong farm goals:
To grow to be one of the five largest dairy operations in the region.
To evolve the current operation to be able to financially support two families.
To establish a value-add component to our operations.
Objectives are specific targets that are ‘SMART’:
Strategic – They contribute directly to achieving one or more goals.
Measurable – You can measure to see how well you achieved them.
Attainable - You can realistically achieve them.
Relevant – The objective truly matters to the farm.
Time-specific – You’ve set a reasonable timeframe within which it needs to be complete.
Objectives are the specific ways you’re going to achieve your goals. They have shorter timeframes than goals do and they are practical. They always have a timeline included.
Here are some examples:
To increase the sheep herd by 15 percent by June 1, 2015.
To establish a business case and identify five prospective customers for a value-added wool operation by end of Quarter 3.
To reduce costs by 5 percent each year for the next three years.
Set your goals and objectives for the farm using your SwiftPlan Worksheet.
If you are having a tough time getting your goals and objectives set mark this section complete and read the next section; it should help. If your shared goals and objectives are set and you're ready to move on, mark the next section "When You Can't Agree" complete and read the following page, Share with Family and Advisors.