by Wayne Knight, HMI Interim Executive Director and Certified Educator
In Holistic Management, we encourage land stewards to make better decisions by using a series of testing questions to ensure that the outcomes are simultaneously contributing to a better quality of life for the person or people involved, that the decision is economically viable, and that the business can operate well into the future on the land and ecosystem on which all depends.
I like to think of the Testing Questions as a constant reminder to think holistically.
But how do you know if your decisions are leading you in the direction you want to go? How do you know that all the important things are being achieved – beyond the decision having been made.
The only way is to monitor the results.
In complex environments, the outcome is seldom known. When a pilot flies an aircraft to a distant airport, the plane seldom heads towards the final destination. It is routed by traffic controllers, buffeted by winds, and sent off course to avoid flight paths, storms, or mountains.
Our ag businesses are far more complex than a flight path. There are more variables and far more unknowns. But, as
with flying, the sooner we know we are off course, the sooner we can correct our direction and head where we need to go.
Tracking lead indicators by covering the important bases of quality of life, animal/crop production, profitability, and ecosystem function is essential to achieving your holistic goal.
Are you checking in on your quality of life? How are your relationships with family and co-workers? Are you motivated? Do you feel in control of your business and of your life? Are you comfortable with the level of risk you are exposed to?
How is your land responding to your management? How is the cover on your soil surface? Are the perennial plants increasing or decreasing? Are there increasing or decreasing signs of water runoff or wind erosion? Is there increased or decreased plant diversity? Is there a reduced need for inputs?
How are your animals performing? Are they in the right body condition at calving? Are they on a rising plane of nutrition at mating time?
If you look at your gross profit per acre are you getting the profit margin you need to sustain your business?
There is a high correlation between achieving success and monitoring your progress towards your goals. It is through constant planning, decision testing, and monitoring that you can achieve continuous improvement in the important areas of your business and your life.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about how to achieve the life you want by planning, testing decisions, and
monitoring for the outcomes you want to achieve.