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HERd management: Every challenge can become a celebration

Bonnie den Haan for Progressive Dairyman Published on 29 February 2016

Challenges: They’re unavoidable in any business. While they can lead to exciting, successful growth, they can also result in the unfortunate sudden downturn of a business. What is the difference between these two outcomes? Mindset.

Our mental and objective approach to these unexpected events determines the outcome and subsequently has the potential to allow us to cheer and conquer the challenges faced.



Since we are encouraged to have corrective action procedures (CAP) in our processing and manufacturing area of business to deal with unfavourable results, why not have a CAP for when life throws a curve ball?

So what to do when a challenge comes flashing on the radar of your family business?

1. Acknowledge
Acknowledging an issue is three-quarters of the way to the cure. Don’t keep walking past the problem; take ownership and dig deeper to find the root of the issue. Slow down for a moment and really look at the problem; our lives are so fast we rarely dig deep.

2. Chop it up
Then get out your axe and chop the problem up into little pieces. This can have a therapeutic effect; merely dissecting the issue can make the solution so clear you wonder why you didn’t see it earlier.

Other issues can be overwhelming if looked at as a whole. When did the problem start? Did it coincide with another event or change? Analysis will help make the solution clearer.


3. Discover the possibilities
Open yourself up to the possibilities; sometimes we have to let go of our old winning formulas to experience a new success.

4. Brainstorm options
Gather the family, employees and whoever you can to join in and talk about the problem and how to fix it. Cultivate the solution together.

Get help. There is somebody who has had the same problem or issue. There may even be someone who specializes in your problem. There is never a dumb question – and never feel alone.

There are seminars, conferences and expos. Go to them with a list of your challenges in mind. Then look for solutions. From the home office, use Twitter and Google; the world is at your fingertips. When we need change, we need to have faith in others and listen for the solution.

5. Make choices
Now that you have information, you can make choices and compromises. There are pros and cons to each choice; list them on a page. It is a simple and effective way to come to a clearer answer.

6. Develop a plan
Make a plan how to move forward, including timelines. There is nothing like a deadline to get things done.


7. Delegate
Then delegate the jobs, making it a joint effort. Delegating will get everyone involved and engaged in creating the solution.

8. Work the plan
Get to work implementing the plan. Establish a culture of execution because what scares you the most is usually the most rewarding. If you don’t do this step, all of the others are redundant.

9. Celebrate
Then celebrate when the issue starts to turn around. Go out for dinner. Pick the round table in the corner and share a good laugh about what your business has just been through.

After acknowledging the problem, this is the most important step. It turns problems into challenges, and every challenge leads to a celebration. It changes the mindset.

10. Remain watchful
No business is without issues and problems; there is always something lurking around the corner waiting to explode. Develop the mindset that this is life; this is why we are here.

Keep looking for that next challenge, and you will catch it early. It is a thrill when you fix something before it becomes an eyesore.

In the end, it is a business and we need to be prepared for all challenges and obstacles that are thrown our way. Whether it is a pebble thrown on the path or a tree blocking the road, our approach will make or break the situation. Being prepared with the right mindset is the most valuable tool we can use to get through the trials of life.  PD

Bonnie den Haan
  • Bonnie den Haan

  • On-farm Dairy Processor
  • Haanview Farms & Sheldon Creek Dairy





Corrective action procedure for facing challenges

  1. Acknowledge it; then own it.

  2. Chop it up into pieces.

  3. Open yourself up to the possibilities.

  4. Brainstorm the options.

  5. Make choices and compromises.

  6. Develop a plan.

  7. Delegate; make it a collaborative adventure.

  8. Get to work.

  9. Celebrate.

  10. Keep your eyes and ears open; be aware of the next issue because they never stop. That is what makes owning your own business so exciting.