A new year is less than a week away. Industry pundits are opining away on how Mother Nature might treat us in the coming year, and her impact on feed prices and pasture conditions. They’re also prognosticating on supply and demand, and the impact of historically high prices and the herd expansion expected to occur. Others are talking about the changes in marketing structure and the continued growth of differentiated and branded products, while others are pontificating on the revolution in genetics that is reshaping our industry in dramatic and new ways.
One of my favorite quotes is from the science fiction writer William Gibson, who said, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Determining the trends shaping the future isn’t nearly as difficult as determining how to respond to those trends in order to maximize value in both the short and long term.
In today’s world, a lot of problems don’t even have answers. You don’t so much solve them as convert them into opportunities, and you hopefully are able to work with others to turn the problems into win/win situations.
Take climate change. People can’t even agree on why it’s happening, or even what is happening. No one has a solution, and it’s a very polarized issue. If you are from the political left, for instance, manmade global warming is a sacred premise and anyone who questions it is a fool.
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The reality is that you aren’t going to solve this problem, but there may be the potential to create a solution that will reward both sides. In today’s polarized world, where problems are based more on ideology than fact, we are no longer in a world where problems are solved but rather dilemmas are turned into opportunities.
I’ll jump out on a limb but I think the most significant trend of 2014 will not be any of the big ones mentioned above. I think it will be the birth of collaboration in a far more substantive way than what is typical in our industry. It will involve sharing assets, sharing skills, and building interconnected relationships while remaining competitive and independent.
It will be a kind of collaboration and partnering without formal structures. Thus, my prediction is that those most successful in 2014 will be those who are the most creative in finding ways to leverage their operation’s assets with others.
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