I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in San Antonio for the Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers convention earlier this year. It was a great venue - who doesn't love San Antonio in the spring and the sessions offered were excellent! The speakers had good information to pass on to the attendees and the staff at TSCRA did an awesome job at coordinating all the schedules! They are a great group with which to be associated and always are looking for ways to get important news and information to their members and to the livestock industry. For a novice like me, it was full of needed information to help me better understand how to operate effectively and efficiently.
There are a lot of ranchers that have been doing this work for many years - some multiple generations back, but there are also a lot of newcomers to the industry. TSCRA staff work very hard to provide information that is needed by the "newbies" but is also relevant to the "old hands". Two of the sessions were on strategic planning. The focus was to help ranchers see the need for a strategic plan and to understand the difference between strategy and tactical plans. There were some who knew but everyone in the session came away with a much better understanding of the difference.
Strategic planning may not generate excitement in your mind but the sessions provided excellent information and reasons for developing such a plan for every operation. Strategic planning involves mapping out the "big picture" of where you want to go with your operation, like planning a vacation (which is what one of the session speakers used as the basis for his talk). You have to decide where you're going first - then how are you going to get there as there are multiple avenues available, such as traveling by car or flying. So you want to run cattle - it might mean looking at a cow-calf operation vs a stocker operation vs heifer replacement; commercial or pure bred; grass pasture vs. grain fed. Once you have made that decision, then you have to determine what you are going to do when you get to your destination (again - vacation example). Are you going sight seeing, relax at hotel pool, shopping in the antique district, play golf on the local course, hiking and exploring the parks and outlying areas? Those are all part of the strategic plan so when we think about a cattle operation - you have to have resources - land, water, equipment, money. Are you going to borrow, and if so, from whom and how much? Some of these may actually fall under the technical plan as well but they are also needed to get you to where you want to go.
Strategic planning helps you to actually sit down and think through the steps needed for you to accomplish your dream.
Of course - there was some down time and the Riverwalk is such a nice venue to enjoy dinner and good times with friends, both old and new.