Kiss principle still applies to agriculture

Keep It Simple Stupid. Edward De Bono has written numerous books and his book "Simplicity" gives a very clear rendition of simplicity. It is interesting to note that he only uses one word as the book title as well.

Life is ever changing and complex. In our farming businesses, there are a myriad of decision to be made, let alone all the complexities of compliance, GST and so on. Being able to simplify issues, rationalise them and make logical decisions is important to enable us to do things in a simple fashion.

Switching banks for example can be incredibly difficult and complex. It's enough to put anybody off, particularly if you have a number of entities, accounts, and automatic payments running between them etc. I run credit accounts and I would love to change banks, but it all seems too difficult and complex to do. I'm too frightened to tell my team that we are changing banks because of the flow-on affect it may have. Some banks are now realising how difficult it is for all of us and have put in place systems to simplify things and make it easier for us the customer to change.

Mobile phones are another complexity. Every time you get a new phone, you have to struggle through new systems, new buttons, not to mention new phone faces etc. Vodafone have cottoned on to this and have put out a new phone called "Vodafone Simple" – how's that for simplicity. Farmers are also looking for a simple phone that they can also work easily with their big fingers, but that's for another day.

Another example of complexity is reading the instructions on a container of chemicals, as they can often be difficult to understand. We farmers just want to have it simple, e.g." mix 'x' amount of chemicals with 'y' amount of water to spray 'z' area" and we would be happy. Recipe books also have written word, but pictures may help us simplify the thoughts in our minds, as they say "pictures say a thousand words".

Some of the most successful farmers have an ability to think clearly and simply, ie. deciding to buy the neighbours farm may boil down to:
    debt to asset ratio
    debt servicing ratio
    can we handle it
Once these things are worked out, the decision is made. Employing people who have the ability to sift through a minefield of information and be able to think clearly and simply could be a good investment.

When looking at KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) on your farm, they may/should be as simple as you can get them. You might include things like:
    How much money is in the bank and how much am I about to spend?
    How is production going, compared with last season?
    How are my costs, compared with budget?
A simple snapshot of your business should be at the top of your mind at all times. If you are feeling down or overwhelmed, so a simple asset and liabilities calculation, then calculate your gross income and should feel better.

In our own business, we are trying to simplify what we are doing, i.e. shorten reports, have better systems, less busyness etc. We can all too easily clutter up our day by doing a lot to achieve nothing. Shedding all those extras is essential.

Having too many pieces of gear, too many vehicles etc. can make life more complex as well. Do we really need a car and a ute, or would a car and a couple of good trailers be sufficient? Trailers are an underutilized resource. You can load them up, drop them off and pick them up again to take home to the farm.

People make money out of making our lives more complex. There are all sorts of wizmos and gizmos that you can buy and collect data and information too, but will you use the information once it is collected, or is it just more time wasting and clutter?

In summary, we should challenge every decision that we make which moves us from simplicity to complexity. As farmers we need to bone out everything that we don't need to do to simplify our lives, according to de Bono. Staying in a complex and overbearing world will only see our stresses and time wasting endeavours increase.

Clearing away the complexities and clutter and going for simplicity has got to be good for you.


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