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A WORD FROM … Dr Dirk Strydom

October 2021

In agriculture, and specifically in new and upcoming producers, the focus can easily be on the wrong parameters. Our attention is on machinery and equipment, because we think it shows that we are a successful farmer, but is this really the case?

One of my mentors gave me a book, The goal, which helped me throughout my career to really grasp the concept of setting goals and managing them. The author, Eliyahu Goldratt, was a manager of a factory which was on the brink of closure.

All his norms and benchmarks on efficiencies of the factory were on par and looking good. The factory also had all the latest technology and robots within the manufacturing process but still did not deliver to clients in time and was not making money.

One of his mentors then asked Mr Goldratt the question: ‘What is your plant’s goal?’ He explained all his norms and benchmarks and after a lot of discussion, he was asked the same question again: ‘What is your plant’s goal?’ Mr Goldratt realised that it was not about all the norms and measurement. The goal should be to make money, a profit.

Sometimes we focus so much on specifics that we do not realise we are missing the real goal. In Mr Goldratt’s case they did not realise that the new high efficiencies were actually creating bottlenecks and in the end costing them time and money.

Obtain the right resources to get to the real goal. Make sure you have the right goal set out for your farm. Ensure that everything you do, work towards that goal at the end of the day. If something prevents you from reaching the goal, search for the bottleneck that is causing this. Check whether the bottleneck you identified is really related to your goal.

I see a lot of producers that have a dream but because they do not manage their goals, they struggle to achieve their dream. Use the advice of Mr Goldratt: Identify the right goal and work towards it. Test your action regularly against it and make sure you satisfy your goal.

Mr Goldratt turned around his plant with old machinery and showed profits within a month. They became the best plant within three months and after six months he was appointed as the new division manager. You can achieve similar dreams in your farming operation when you identify and manage your goals and eliminate the bottlenecks. 

Publication: October 2021

Section: Pula/Imvula