Every industry is riddled with examples of supposed experts missing the mark as they neglected to heed the voices of those they serve. Too often, those with the loudest megaphone attempt to explain what we should want as opposed to hearing what is truly desired or needed. Enter the Edsel, the Blimp, AOL, and the overwhelming majority of politicians.
So how do we avoid the pitfalls of leadership hubris? How do we ensure that customer voices are at the core of decision making? How do we balance the need for innovation with the ability to get novel products to gain traction in the marketplace?
Humility and an intense interest in listening to and understanding the needs of business partners are crucial. Agriculture at its very core is neighbors teaching neighbors how to make it greener, produce it healthier, grow it faster, or improve the taste. There are countless examples of successful firms engaging their business partners regarding new products, new approaches, and new directions. Your seed salesman, local coop, area veterinarian, regional sale barn are all forced to hear their customers and react accordingly. The feedback loop is quick, impactful, and brutal.
Other parts of our industry have been slower to seek input from commercial clients. One example is the area of Genetic Evaluation of Beef Cattle. The complexity of science, speed of innovation, overly-acronymed jargon are all reasons that well-intentioned folks sometimes isolate themselves and are slow to share findings and ideas with the end user. The historical breed association has been eager to report results, but less enthusiastic about incorporating commercial data or letting folks see behind the magic curtain of genetic analysis. Again, this isn’t necessarily an indication that associations were hiding or avoiding their obligation. Rather, in most cases it was a matter of limited personnel to share the message and limited scientific capability to incorporate commercial data.
Times have changed
A bold group of breed associations have chosen to overcome staff and scientific limitations by working together to provide the most robust personnel and the largest and most innovative beef genetic analysis on the globe. Twelve North American breed associations are collaborating as part of International Genetic Solutions (IGS). IGS provides for across breed comparisons without adjustments or nuisance math. Commercial producers can directly compare EPDs from one breed to another. Producers are empowered with more accurate knowledge than ever before and privileged to work with partners who recognize the truth that no single breed is the answer to all industry issues. Rather, responsible and well planned crossbreeding can improve herd fertility and cow durability and at the same time composite steers can improve feedlot performance, health, and the carcass balance of cutablity and quality. IGS partners have set self-interest aside to provide transparent and honest tools to ensure profitability of commercial beef producers and the future of their operations.
The IGS platform also allows for appropriate incorporation of commercial data. No longer is genetic analysis the sole domain of seedstock producers. An example is the American Simmental Association’s (ASA) approach to enrolling cattle into the genetic evaluation. Four options run the gamut from a traditional approach for registered cattle to an ultra-low cost method tailored for the demands of commercial cattle producers – regardless of the breed makeup of their cattle. The power of the genetic evaluation (EPDs & Indexes) is equivalent across all options, but the four levels allow for producers to better identify services they expect from ASA.
IGS has changed the game and more importantly has opened the game to ALL progressive and innovative beef producers. We Collaborate. You Profit.
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