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To whom much is given …

Tom Wall Published on 16 March 2011

What is potential worth?

When you think about potential, it’s amazing how valuable we seem to believe it is. For example, think about many of the purchases and investments you’ve made. It’s easy to calculate how much an investment has returned in the past and how much it’s yielding in the present.



But one of the real reasons you choose to take on the risk of a purchase or an investment is due to the potential gains or savings it will deliver in the future. I guess technically we call that a “forecast,” but essentially we’re talking about potential.

And in dairy production, almost everything boils down to potential. Whether you’re making decisions on contracting milk, expansion or sire selection, you base many of these choices on what you believe will deliver the most potential.

There are no guarantees, just potential that needs to be realized through good decisions, hard work and persistence.

Now I’d imagine you think about the potential of your cattle and the market every day, but how much have you thought about the potential of your people lately? When you hired each person on your team, did you make these hiring decisions based on the individual’s potential for delivering great performance?

Or did you just hire whoever was available and hope that you wouldn’t have to fire them and find someone new? When you think about these people you’ve entrusted to help run your family’s business, ask yourself, “Do your managers and workers have the potential that’s needed to succeed in these challenging times?”


And now the hard part ... what about you? What kind of potential do you have for leading and managing your team? Do you “have what it takes” to build and develop your team to make your dairy run more effectively and efficiently?

But more importantly, are you actively doing that every day? If you can say “yes” to that last question, nice work. And if you answered “no,” then why not?!?!

Here’s an idea for a discussion at the next meeting with your management team. Compare your company’s potential with its reality. Address performance details (key statistics, time management, cleanliness, waste, communication, sense of urgency, etc.) for each department and department head at your dairy ... parlor, herd, calves, maintenance and so on.

As a group, discuss and give each area of the dairy and its respective manager a grade for the potential and the actual performance of each detail listed above. Hopefully, you have a great team and every area and person gets an A+ for potential.

But as you probably already know, most of us don’t always live up to our own potential and our “reality” grade doesn’t equal that of our “potential” grade. And you see, that’s a great starting point.

With a job description for their own position in front of them, everyone on your management team can address their own strengths and weaknesses and state what they’re going to do to start realizing their own potential.


The bottom line is this ... Potential is only important before and during the decision-making process. After that, it’s all about performance.

To whom much is given, much is expected. (Luke 12:48) PD

Tom Wall