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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Dec 6, 2018

Questions Help Us Focus
This episode will cover different areas of a business by asking questions to help identify opportunities. Though you may not have answers for all of these questions today, they will start the thinking process and give you an inventory of questions today that you can use as a reference for future thinking, either for you or your team.

Future Questions
Having a clear picture of what you are working to create helps guide decisions when things get muddy. An inspiring dream gives us energy when we’re feeling bogged down. And when we’re not around, the answers for these questions create clarity for our team which can help them to stay on track:

  • Who am I working to become? An organization will always struggle to grow beyond its leader, so I need to have a picture of who I’m continually working to become. This should drive reflection of how I’m doing and what I need to be working on.
  • In 10 years, a reporter from a magazine does a story about my operation. What do I want the headline to say? This addresses what you want someone to say about your operation—what’s important to you and you really want to create.

People Questions
Looking now at the people on your team, ask yourself these questions:

  • What indicators do I have whether my team is top-notch? What behaviors would I see from such a team? How would people in a top-notch organization interact with one another? Now—how does that differ from what I experience with my team today?
  • If there’s an employee who’s giving me headaches—knowing what I know now, would I hire this person today? How would I feel if I got a call tomorrow that this person was resigning? If their resignation wouldn’t bother you, maybe it’s time for a candid conversation.

Business System Questions
How we accomplish things is a function of the systems in our business—systems which may be written or unwritten:

  • If this person were to be gone for a month, what jobs would not get done? This question helps assess need to undertake documentation of critical systems. Documentation of processes a) forces us to look at how we are doing things and open up further questioning on whether there’s a better way to do them; and b) gives us peace of mind that the critical business systems can continue, even if something happens or someone cannot be reached.

Skill & Expertise Questions
For effective results, the business must be good at some critical competencies:

  • What is something that I am exceptional at? What comes easier to me than to others? Often we look at our deficiencies first, but it’s just as important to know what you’re good at and have as a business strength.
  • What skills does the business need to move forward? Maybe it’s employee training, coaching from an outside source, honing your own skills in an area—identify competency gaps with potential to hold the business back.

Leadership Responsibility Questions

  • What is something only I can do? This question shows the value you give to the business. As the operation grows, you won’t be able to do everything you used to do. It’s important to recognize which things only you can do.
  • What is something you do which you can no longer afford to do? Classical economics says with growth comes specialization. In order to specialize, we have to give up some of the stuff we used to do.


Thanks for listening! Email me any questions or comments at See you next week!