Keeping It Simple

Nothing is quite so revitalizing in business as a good conversation with somebody smart. Since most people are smarter than I am, finding that conversation is not particularly difficult. But you know what I mean.

Anyway, this past June I got to spend some time with Carl Casale, who’s been in place at the helm at CHS since late last year and who’s one of those interviews that you come away from feeling smarter. A goodly portion of what we discussed can be found in the cover story, but there were a few more interesting tidbits worth sharing.

One of the discussion lines that struck me was his explanation of what he called CHS’ “five aspirations.” Essentially, they are statements that, with absolute clarity, describe what CHS is trying to accomplish through its work every day. Casale noted that it took a ton of internal time and work to whittle these aspirations down to five, and then to get the wording to truly reflect the meaning. But when they roll them out and begin implementing them this fall, he’s confident that it will improve efficiency and performance.

“We want to word them in a way that any employee can look at them and know exactly what they need to do to make them happen,” says Casale. Eliminate the ambiguity. Get things done. In other words, make it simple.

Of course, that’s the conundrum. Making it simple can be a very complex exercise. I fall victim to the kind of thinking that’s made me a high-performing “doer” but a so-so “delegator” for most of my career: “I could probably get someone else on board with me to do this, but it would take longer to explain to you how to do it than it would for me to just do it myself.” I’m sure there’s a whole lot of you out there who resemble this remark.

Unfortunately, while operating this way might get you kudos for being the hardest working guy in the company, it costs you dearly. People who could eventually replace you on your way up the ladder never get trained to do your job. You become too valuable to promote. You stress out. You might even drop a few balls with customers and colleagues along the way.

My point is that it’s always worth the time and effort to get your team in the mix, all pushing in the same direction. To get there, the mission and vision of the company has to be clear. And that clarity doesn’t just drop out of the sky. Talking with Casale reminded me how important communication and buy-in are to moving an organization forward and keeping the messages crisp, clear and simple streamlines the process.

Now, one final word on simplicity from my experience at the InfoAg Conference in July. It was tremendous to hear so many equipment and software companies talking about their willingness to improve compatibility, to partner with each other and chip away at the inconsistencies that have plagued wider adoption of agriculture technology over the years.

Consolidation has served to pare down the number of companies and technologies to those that truly work. Now is the time for the survivors to figure out how to work together so that more retailers and growers can experience the agronomy and efficiency benefits of technology in agriculture.

Leave a Reply

Paul Schrimpf Stories

OpinionTaming Data Overload
July 15, 2015
For the past couple of months, a significant chunk of my professsional efforts here have been dedicated to getting a Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
Paul SchrimpfWill The Merger Of Wheat Growers And North Central Farmers Elevator Be A Good Thing?
April 2, 2015
When crop prices started heading south last year, we knew the industry was headed for a dynamic season of consolidation Read More
Paul Schrimpf Group Editor
Paul SchrimpfBig Tech Takeaways
March 11, 2015
Farmers should not be allowed to point to a lack of obvious return-on-investment from data as a reason to not collect it. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
Young soybean field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces New Business Unit Head For…
September 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America announces the addition of Rico Christensen, Business Unit Head, North America. Christensen will have responsibility for Read More
Wilbur Ellis Pink Soybean Seed Treatment
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Goes Pink With Soybean Seed Treatments For…
September 1, 2015
This past year, proceeds of pink-dyed soybeans treated and sold to Wilbur-Ellis seed customers in Chester, SD, went to two Read More
SprayersNORAC Active Wing Roll Slated For More Sprayers
September 1, 2015
NORAC Systems, a member of the Topcon Positioning Group, announces the release of Active Wing Roll for RoGator, Apache, New Read More
Syngenta Sign
FungicidesSyngenta’s Newest Fungicide Receives EPA Approval
September 1, 2015
Syngenta announced today that its newest succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide – Solatenol – has received registration from EPA and Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More