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Editor’s note: This article is the first in a two-part series featuring information from the Precision Dairy Technology Forum hosted by Penn State University. This article appeared in the November 1, 2013 Extra e-newsletter:  Click here to read.

“When you’re making a transition, have a plan. Don’t just have a five-minute conversation in the yard about how to make the transition. Have a real plan,” said Paul Berdell of Robotic Milking Integration Solutions.

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January is a great time to snuggle with a cup of tea and a great book. It is also a time to reflect on the lessons of last year, and for me, that lesson a few years ago was learning to walk alongside friends who have become young widows.

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Whether you’re a world-class athlete, parent, dairy manager or musician, almost all success comes from being “consistent.” But what does that really mean?

Being consistent means … having the discipline to do something the same way over and over and over again.

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In football, there is always hype about the quarterback – but when it comes to winning, they certainly don’t get the job done alone. What I love about team sports is you only win when you put a mixture of talent together.

If you took all the top quarterbacks in the NFL and made a team, they would probably not fare well on the field because they all bring similar skills. Diversity trumps when winning games.

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“I’ve been waiting 33 years for these boys to have this conversation!” Helen declared as she jumped to her feet. In that moment, I realized a lot about this family’s problems and, not coincidentally, the difficulties most people face in planning for succession.

Seventy percent of first-generation family farms will not transition to a second generation. Of those that do, 90 percent will fail in the transition to a third. And, of the few remaining after that, 96 percent will not make it to a fourth.

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I am sitting in a conference room with a company’s CEO and his father. The father is the founder and chairman of the board. I had made a presentation about performing an organizational development evaluation for their business to help them focus their investment on people.

The CEO, on one hand, is eager to develop the company’s people. The father, on the other hand, is going in a totally different direction, into processes and procedures lacking in their business.

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