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Four Cornerstones

Dr. David Kohl
Educational Opportunities: 
Home > Education & Events > September 2017 > Four Cornerstones

Hi, I'm Dr. Dave Kohl, Professor of Emeritus Agriculture Economics at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. Welcome to the Macro Clinic. Today's subject matter is the four cornerstones of management. Well, one of the things that I like to do is read 10 or 12 books per year. Recently, by reading some of the business literature, I've been able to transition that information over to agriculture pertaining to management.

I believe that there's four cornerstones. Let's talk about them, planning, strategizing, executing, and monitoring. One of the things is this, planning is often overlooked. We've got crops to put in. We've got livestock to feed, but taking time to plan each and every year is very, very critical. Now, what goes into planning? The good old fashion SWOT analysis. In other words, analyze your strengths and weaknesses internally, but also look at opportunities and threats.

Number two is to map out your goals, both short term and long term. Short term will be one year. Longer term will be five years. Like I've said in previous blogs, make sure that they're smart, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Now, let's move to strategizing. One of the things that you have to do is prioritize your priorities. In other words, what's the $100 day, $1,000, and $10,000 day decision. What we like to do is to take the goal setting, the SWOT analysis, and identify some of the priorities and objectives that you would like to obtain not only in the one year, but also five years out.

Now comes the most difficult phase, execution. It's interesting. When I ask agriculture producers where are they weakest, you know what they often say, execution. In other words, being able to pull that trigger. In other words, when you have that marketing window and it's $4 corn and then you hear the weather report that says it might go into $5 corn, only to see $3 corn, that's a classic example of not pulling the trigger to execute. Also, you can have the best game plan in the world and take it to the playing field, but if you don't have the players to execute, one of the things is often it ends up with subpar results.

Then, the final component of management is monitoring. Again, the good old variance analysis, taking cash flow projections and then comparing them to actual so that then you can kind of tweak your game plan throughout the year and not wait until November and December and say, "Oh my goodness, where are we?" In other words, what's happening is once a quarter or once monthly, you can tweak and monitor your plan. Again, the four cornerstones is actually evolving.

Well, those are the four cornerstones of management. Think about and rate yourself of how your business stands up. That is, do you plan, do you strategize, but most importantly, do you execute? Then, do you follow through and monitor? See you the next time at the Macro Clinic.


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