Problems are unavoidable. They are a part of life and a part of business. Each and every one of us will eventually have problems to solve. How do you solve your problems? Where do you look for solutions?
Most people today have been programmed to spend an inordinate amount of money on chemical, technical and mechanical solutions that are almost always temporary at best. We often overlook the less complicated solutions previous generations were forced to employ.
Over the years… I have noticed the best problem solvers take a completely opposite approach. When confronted with a problem, they will first look for a no-cost solution. They don’t want to spend any money to solve their problem. If they are unable to find a no-cost solution, they will look for a low-cost solution. If they are unable to find a low-cost solution, they will go back and see if it is really a problem after all.
Many of the things we perceive to be problems are not the problems we thought they were. In fact, I have found that some of my perceived problems turned out to be opportunities in disguise. As I think back, I am reminded of several examples. I will share one of them with you.
From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, we started our calving season on April 10th. Although it is rare to have a cow-killing blizzard after the 10th of April, we are still 30+ days away from having an abundance of green grass. We knew this was out of sync with nature and was costing us a lot of money we did not want to spend.
That would have been an easy problem to solve had we not been selling yearling bulls in April. We knew we could not have 10 and 11-month old bulls ready to go to work in April. We also knew having a bull sale in May or June was too late for many cow-calf producers. I wrestled with this problem for two years before the light bulb finally came on.
The solution to the problem was to sell our bulls at a fall bull sale – instead of an April bull sale. This would allow us to start calving the middle of May, instead of April. It would also allow us to sell older bulls – that could be developed 100% on grass. At that time, I only knew of one other producer in North America who was trying to develop bulls on grass alone.
Producing and marketing grass-developed bulls soon became our claim to fame. Twenty-five years later, it continues to be one of our claims to fame. Had we not had the original problem to deal with, we might still be using grain to develop our bulls.