I recently came across a book entitled “Who not How” co-authored by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy, that really made me reflect on my career as an agronomist helping farmers grow better crops. The book challenges readers to as the question of “who can help me accomplish my goals?” rather than “how am I going to accomplish my goals?” The book is touted as “The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork.” Follow this link for a summary of the book. 

https://summaries.com/blog/who-not-how

Why does this book have me reflecting on my own career as an agronomist? Having worked 25+ years in the industry, I have helped many different operations realize the goal of growing their farms in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. I have worked with operations both big and small, with different management structures and business philosophies. The one thing they all had in common? They all sought the help of professionals.

There can be many different reasons for hiring or seeking the help of professionals. Each farm will have a different reason. Some see benefit of hiring professionals with more experience than their own, some operations are run in conjunction with other businesses and some operations see value in hiring out work that they do not like doing themselves.

There are 4 key jobs or roles in a business that must be covered for it to succeed and to grow. They are marketing (often the big picture thinker), sales, finance, and operations. When looking at farming operations, the manager is often the main person marketing the crop, keeping the books, fixing and operating equipment, all at the same time. Unless a manager can properly delegate some tasks to the right people, they either end up being overworked or they do a mediocre job with everything rather than excelling at one thing.

It is like driving a high-end sports car but never shifting out of first gear. To go faster, you must rev the engine, pushing it to its limits and severely decreasing its expected lifespan. Shifting to a higher gear allows your engine to slow down a little and you have a clearer picture of what else needs to be done to move forward.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.

 – HELEN KELLER

It does not matter if it’s a great business leader, athlete, actor or other influential person, many say not asking for help sooner was one of their biggest regrets. Building a great team is one of the cornerstones of every great business. There are many reasons asking for help or delegating tasks to the right people will help you grow.

  1. Professionals can do it faster, smarter and more efficiently. Farm managers have a really good understanding of their own operations. Whether agronomists, accountants, grain marketers or other, they have a solid understanding of their given field having worked with multiple farming operations. They live, eat, sleep and breath their chosen professions.
  2. Delegating tasks allows a manager to focus on work that interests them. Not every manager likes walking fields, operating equipment, doing bookwork or marketing grain. You as a manager are likely to excel at tasks that interest you. You are also likely to drag your feet or put in half the effort into accomplishing tasks you dread.
  3. Delegating work frees time to focus on other aspects of your business or life. Maybe it’s another business or family commanding more of your attention.  With all the demands of a modern farming practice, it can be difficult to maintain a proper work-life balance.
  4. You will spend more time working “on your business” rather than “in your business”. Delegating more of the day-to-day operational tasks of your business will allow you to focus more on the important work leading to meaningful growth.

It is said that a team working together makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Treat your farming business like a CEO by building a team of professionals working together towards a common goal.