As a farm leader, you’re no stranger to uncertainty. You regularly encounter situations – both from within your operation and from outside that affect it – where you must deal with unknown factors and ambiguity.
It’s no question that the unknown is something you’ll come across as a farmer. But, more importantly, it’s about how you react and what you do when you must make decisions in the face of uncertainty.
Uncertainty reaction quiz
There are a few different reactions people might have when dealing with a decision involving some level of uncertainty. Which of these three responses do you typically use?
- Analysis paralysis. Some people deal with uncertainty around decision-making by seeking out as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible. They spend a great deal of time collecting lots of information, and then try to analyze it. During that analysis, they can become frozen by the large amount of information – and noise – they’re combing through, and then are unable to make a decision at all.
- Isolate and ignore. Others tend to “rope off” the decision in their minds, pushing it off to the sidelines and not thinking about it. They also may hope that something in the situation will change to make it easier or more favorable for them. They ignore the problem, box it up and hope that everything “works out” without actively trying to seek information, opinions or anything else to help with decision-making.
- Seek trusted resources. Some people will deal with the unknown by seeking out resources and advisors that they trust. They look for information sources and advisors that resonate with themselves and their values. Once they’ve determined whether something or someone is a trusted resource, they then seek their advisor’s take on the decision or situation they’re dealing with.
Do you recognize yourself in any of the three reactions I mentioned above? Maybe it’s a mix of a couple of them, or you might notice you respond in different ways depending on the situation. Some responses are more productive and helpful to your farm business than others. No matter your reaction, knowing how you respond is key.
Ready for action
Knowing our own tendency can help us move forward despite the uncertainty we face when we must make a tough decision for our operation. Then, the most important step to take next is creating a plan of action that’s tailored to our own farm business.
Action plans need to be as specific as possible – detailing what will be done, by when and by who. Who is responsible for making sure particular jobs or steps get done? The plan should describe who needs to be informed or consulted at certain points along the way, when problems or questions come up.
Before setting up your action plan, make sure you’ve done any needed research, consulted trusted advisors and taken a close look at how this decision fits with your farm’s larger goals, values and needs. You may want to work closely with an advisor for the farm to help set up your plan.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.