I’m watching football as I write this, and I’m thinking about decision making. Do you kick it or go for two? It’s just one decision, but there are as many rationales for the decision as there are people in the room. The thing though is that all those rationales for the decision can be categorized under far fewer headings according to similar themes or motives.
We organize and simplify the world like this all the time. If you’ve ever taken a personality test, you’ve had the experience of your special and unique way of being categorized into one of however many options. You’re a Green, or an Owl, or an INTJ, or a Wild Dog, or whatever. It’s a practice in generalizing, but it can be really quite helpful so long as we avoid the serious pitfall of overgeneralizing.
When I’m talking with a grower about a tough field, he or she is going to make a decision about what to do that is true to his or her self and operation, but we can categorize his or her decision into one of four styles:
Input optimizers will make decisions aimed at lowering input while maintaining yield. They tend to be interested in service instead of products.
Yield optimizers will make decisions aimed at maintaining their input but increasing yield. They tend to focus on system rather than product, but beneficial product swaps are right up their alley. They might not be into increasing their input, but replacing products bringing marginal value with products bringing better value is totally their bag.
Profit optimizers will make decisions that might increase input in order to increase yield. Profit optimizers tend to talk strategically; they’re precise and surgical and usually aren’t too interested in anything with less than a 2:1 return on investment.
Innovators will just jump whatever curve the other three fall on and create something new. They’re open and comfortable with changing their input in order to positively increase their yield. Some can be really extreme—like they’re open to changing whole cropping systems—while other are less so—more interested in a big change rather than a wholesale change. Innovators are exciting to work with, but they can be a bit scary too.
Some people might think that we’re putting y’all in box, but that’s very far from the truth. To be sure, you can be more than just one of the above. Perhaps you’re an input optimizer in that one field that makes you pull your hair out of your head but a profit optimizer in your most productive acres. Or perhaps at one time you were an innovator, but know what works for you now and fit more comfortably with the yield optimizers now.
However it goes for you, considering these categories helps me to meet a grower where he or she is at. If I can correctly identify a grower as an input optimizer, for example, then I’ll leave the product gab at home because it won’t be well- received. Considering your style helps me to get outside my own idea of what you need and instead bring you a solution that fits your paradigm and your goals. It helps orient my approach to you and your operation and tune in faster and better to your goals, both short and long term.