Shift . . .
the word “paradigm” has been a part of the English
language since the 15th century, it never received much use until
the 1960’s. We didn’t hear the word used much in
agricultural circles for another 20-plus years. Pronounced “para-dime”,
the word has always been defined as “one that serves as
a pattern or model”. Since the 1960’s, we have used
the word paradigm to refer to a set of assumptions, concepts
and practices that constitute the way we view the world around
us. Therefore, a paradigm shift would involve rejecting one worldview
in favor of another one. It is a change from one way of thinking
to another one. It is a transformation.
me to provide an example of a paradigm and a paradigm shift.
There is ample evidence that early civilizations believed the
earth they lived on was flat. That was their paradigm. Eventually
someone came along to challenge that paradigm with the concept
that the earth is round. It is not easy to move from one paradigm
to another. It upsets a wide range of previously held beliefs.
It requires one to admit that his previous assumptions were wrong.
Over time, though, most people eventually adopted the paradigm
that says the earth is round. However, there are still a few
who adamantly proclaim the earth is flat. They belong to an organization
called the Flat Earth Society.
what does this have to do with us? We all have a set
of paradigms that determine the way we live our lives. I often
challenge ranchers to “think outside the box”. The “box” I
am referring to is the paradigm that governs how they operate
and manage their business. There may be better paradigms, but
they will never know about them until they peek outside the box
they have put themselves into. That is just the beginning, though.
Making a paradigm shift will require even more effort.
ranchers adhere to what I call the “production” paradigm.
This paradigm revolves around the assumption that they must continually
increase their production to succeed. For the past 40 years,
ranchers have done whatever they could to increase their production — with
little, or no, concern about their profits. They started calving
in winter, they increased the amount of harvested and purchased
feed they fed, they increased the size and maintenance requirements
of their momma cows, they pampered their cattle, they doctored
and treated their cattle for everything known to man, etc., etc.
They increased their production, but they forgot that every increase
in production comes with a cost. You cannot get something for
nothing. Consequently, they unknowingly reached a point several
years ago in which every increase in production was actually
reducing their net profits. Their production-driven paradigm
no longer makes sense. It needs to be replaced by a profit-driven
paradigm shift always involves change — often major change.
It’s not easy, because people hate change. People also
hate to admit they were wrong about something. Therefore, making
the shift from a production-driven paradigm to a profit-driven
paradigm is much easier said than done. Making this transition
even more difficult are all the people and companies that are
dependent on the production paradigm. That’s right; there
are many, many individuals and companies that associate the survival
of the production-driven paradigm with their own survival — and
rightfully so. I am referring to those who have built their business
and their reputation on maximizing production. This group includes
most seedstock producers, many university personnel and thousands
of companies that produce and market production-enhancing products
that increase our expenses.
shift, or not to shift — that is the question.
Even though a paradigm shift won’t be easy, it will be
necessary if ranchers want to remain profitable.
~ Kit Pharo