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To make a good decision, how much data is "enough"?

TAGS: Management
iStock/Getty Images Compass Pointing to Decision
Too much information can lead to analysis paralysis.

As the farm’s leader, there are always decisions to be made for the operation – and you’re the one who often makes the final call on most of them.

The decisions can range from mundane, day-to day, to major choices with wide-ranging impacts. And this can bring different feelings for the farm leader, sometimes uncertainty, anxiety or fear – fear of making a poor decision or a decision with a poor outcome.

The decision-making that happens on the farm, particularly when the leader or leaders are making major decisions, really can make or break the operation. The hesitation or uncertainty that leaders often feel around those decisions is understandable – but they still must call the shots.

Finding balance

Often, depending on personality types, the farm leader might become unable to make a decision – sometimes called “analysis paralysis.” This can happen to farmers who like to look at lots of information and data before making a decision. They might get stuck in the process and fail to do anything at all.

On the other hand, some farmers might be more inclined, because of personality, to make decisions without really reviewing much data at all – or not enough at all for the importance of the decision. They might decide purely off a gut feeling or impulse and end up regretting it later.

Is there a happy medium between too much data and getting “stuck,” and too little data and ending up regretting a decision that wasn’t thought through? I think there can be. While it’s especially important to have the right information about major decisions that heavily impact the farm, it’s also key to be able to make decisions in a timely manner.

Do these two

Here are two ideas that can help with finding balance, whether you usually seek too much information or not enough.

  • Know yourself. The farm leaders who have been successful with helping themselves make the best possible decisions are self-aware of their own personality and tendencies around decision-making. Take time to determine how you tend to act when there’s a major decision you need to make for your operation. Knowing how you tend to react can help you keep that in mind as you work. If you and a business partner or multiple partners share decision-making, maybe you all can get together to help reflect on what each other’s tendencies are – not to judge, but to help.
  • Create a process – and use it. Having a formal process for certain decisions can be helpful. You can define which types of decisions need to go through your process – maybe it’s a certain dollar amount threshold, or level of complexity. Outline each step, who needs to be involved, and how the actual decision should be made. What information and data needs to be sought out? What advisors should be consulted? Who has the final say? Create timelines for each decision category as well, to help keep from getting “stuck.”

One major area of decision-making on the farm is around the markets – and every farm leader has their own decision-making personality when it comes to marketing. You can get in touch with our market advisors or get a free trial of our marketing solutions on our website.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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