With multiple generations working on our ranch, it’s been a transition in working together and understanding each other and the ways we communicate. For example, in researching semen options for spring breeding season, my dad and I had a question about a particular bull. Him, being a Baby Boomer, called the breed rep to ask a question; whereas the first place I looked was on a breeder’s forum on Facebook.
Both avenues yielded the same results in answering our question, but each generation has different methods, strategies, ideas and habits when compared with another. Sometimes this can mean difference in opinions, but overall, I think it’s an asset in our operation to have multiple viewpoints and more than one set of eyes looking at a problem.
In a family business, it can sometimes be tempting to become stagnant and continue to do what the previous generations have always done. While tried-and-true methods are great, it’s also a good idea to keep generating new ideas and adapting to new technologies and management practices if they could potentially make life easier or increase profitability.
According to SKM Associates, an advisor group to enterprising families based in Pennsylvania, “In order to survive and thrive beyond the first generation entrepreneur, a family business needs an internal force of innovation and creativity among employees and family leaders. Innovation in a family business means finding the next competitive advantage over the current way of operating, but must also be compatible with the family’s values, culture, and vision. Value is generated by evaluating a creative idea, calculating the risk-reward, and driving forward.”
So how can a family business foster innovation and creativity to keep new ideas flowing? SKM offers four tips for generating better ideas and always seeking growth opportunities in the family ranch business:
1. Set the culture
SKM says, “Establish a culture that promotes authenticity, commitment to people, commitment to the business, and continuous effort.”
2. Nurture a nudge
According to SKM, “A nudge is an action that attracts people’s attention and urges them to alter their behavior in a positive way, yet it is not done in a heavy-handed way. This nudge may be as simple as urging the sharing of an idea or as complex as developing and implementing a change process.”
3. Teach the family and employees the business
In the release, SKM says, “Focus not only on the technical skills each individual needs to perform, but educate people regarding how the business makes money, how the business attracts and retains clients or customers, and other big-picture issues that impact the business.”
4. Keep the momentum going
SKM advises, “Building the internal force of innovative and creative family leaders and employees, and the culture to keep it going, takes hard work. To keep the momentum going, ensure that the organization focuses on competitive compensation, keeping morale up, and consistent, effective communication.”
For additional ideas for improved family business management, check out SKM Associates here.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.