The Key to Effective Decision Making

Jim Rogers Agri-business, Specialty Crops

By Tiffany Bailey

How many times have you made a mistake and wished you could go back in time to make a different decision? Chances are, several of these mistakes started from decisions that were made utilizing a set of assumptions that became obviously wrong with the passage of time. The hard truth is that if more thought would have been put into the equation, results could have been different.

Decision Making

As growers and business owners, we have many decisions to make and plenty of work to get done. It can be easily justifiable in a moment to make a quick call and get right into the thick of the work. The problem is, without the proper thought, a grower may be working hard in the wrong direction.

There is a practice that can increase the number of good decisions that a grower makes. This practice is painfully simple and obvious yet difficult to implement. It requires no extraordinary resources and can prevent a heap of headaches. It’s called … thinking. Now before you dismiss the concept, allow me to elaborate.

Most of us would say that we think a lot about a lot of things. And it’s true. Our brains are going all the time, and we are required to think in order to even just survive. And when something heavy is on our minds, we tend to think about it a lot! But, thinking while doing other things like driving or even trying to sleep is quite different from thinking with the intention of solving a specific problem or answering a specific question. Intentional and productive thinking requires a thoughtful process and discipline. Here is what it could and should look like:

  1. Pick a single question or problem.
  2. Decide on and schedule a time to think about it.
  3. Get a pen/pencil and a piece of paper.
  4. Turn off all outside noise and anything that could be a distraction.
  5. Think and write solely about this one question or problem for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  6. Conclude by reading through your notes and capturing key takeaways.

The process of writing while thinking is extremely beneficial to the mind as it sorts out thoughts. And sticking to just one topic is something that is difficult to occur naturally. That is why real thinking requires a process. This type of thinking can apply to any type of topic or issue. It could be used to decide on what specific crop to grow or who to partner with in a business transaction. This type of thinking time can be used to decide where you should be spending your time or where you should be spending your hard-earned money. Intentional thinking can have the power to improve almost any type of decision.

It’s worth repeating that this practice must be done with the least amount of distraction as possible. The goal is to stick with thinking about a specific topic. That can be difficult if the phone is ringing, and the emails are dinging. It is also important to note that while it says 30 minutes in the steps above, up to 60 or even 90 minutes can be even more effective.

It may be easy to say that we don’t have the time to be still and engage in this type of activity because we have real work to do. In the agriculture industry, long hours are a badge of honor, and working hard is often required and absolutely critical to success. But the reality is, taking some time to be still and intentionally think could quite possibly save an extraordinary amount of time down the road. And this time could be spent on other work or on other things that matter most. Dealing with the unintended consequences that come from quick decision making and decisions that are made from thinking while simultaneously doing other things costs us money and time while straining farms, businesses and relationships.

I encourage all growers to make the decision to engage in some intentional thinking time. Your farm, family and future self will thank you.

Tiffany Bailey is owner of Honeyside Farms in Parrish, Florida.