September 18, 2020

The Resiliency and Agility Mindset

In this column and in other recent publications, I have focused on resiliency and agility as keywords to navigate the current economic environment that has been created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, I was drawn to a YouTube segment featuring basketball coaches in an interview forum. The interviewer was engaged with Brad Stevens, head coach of the Boston Celtics, and Geno Auriemma, the successful women's basketball coach at the University of Connecticut whose losses are few and far between.

Geno asked Coach Stevens how he transitioned from college basketball at Butler University where he lost one to five games a year to the Celtics where he lost 30 to 40 games per year. The UConn coach indicated that this shift to a losing environment would drive him nuts. The thoughtful response from Coach Stevens was that he followed an incremental process and developed techniques to gain buy-in from players, staff, owners and management.

This process can also apply to managing an agricultural business. The action of following a process lends itself to building resiliency but also provides agility and adaptability. These qualities are necessary to navigate the extreme possibilities and outcomes in the agriculture industry. Let's discuss some elements of this process.

First, it starts out with revisiting your goals and objectives based on your vision of the future. A good old-fashioned SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can provide the mental stimulus for energizing your business, family and personal life.

Another component of the process could be to improve your team's financial literacy, business IQ or operational efficiencies. This would be analogous to a coach going back to the basics and focusing on the fundamentals. As the two coaches stated in the YouTube interview, time and effort may vary depending on the individual. In some cases, your team may be proficient in these skills and just need a refresher. Other individuals may be starting at or near ground zero. The process must be customized to each level. The owner’s and managers’ mindsets must be adaptable, and one size does not fit all for everyone. Sometimes you will need to rely on your assistants or team of advisors to accelerate the process and better engage your people. Farm Credit and other organizations have excellent training and educational programs available on many of these topics. 

Another step in the process is to use financial statements or key performance indicators (KPIs) to develop questions. This is analogous to a coach analyzing tapes of practices and game footage with the players and asking them for a self-improvement plan. 

Whether it’s on a basketball court or in your business, following this process can build a resilience and agility mindset. However, you must customize the situation to your business and people for sustainable success. 

Comments

Please send your remarks to AgGlobeTrotter@accountlist.com. I would like to know what you are thinking.

Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA, and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension, and other popular publications.

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