The Need for Nontraditional Teams
Traditional dairy advisory teams often focus on increasing profits by targeting specific areas of the dairy to make changes.
The goals that are set may be short term and can be accomplished within a reasonable time frame.
For many purposes, these traditional advisory teams work well, but for some dairies other nontraditional teams are needed.
This section details three examples of non-traditional teams: Subteams, Modified Board of Directors, and Virtual Teams.
How You Benefit
You get not only an abundance of unique ideas, but also some analysis of those ideas from a wide variety of experts, helping you make the best possible strategic decisions matched to your goals and values.
To accomplish short-term goals and help the advisory team focus on more long-range planning.
Applications of Subteams
Subteams can improve team function when teams are trying to focus on multiple challenges or areas of concern. For instance, a subteam made up of the veterinarian, nutritionist and herdsman could be very effective in making decisions affecting herd health as changes occur in the season, feeds and/or commodity prices.
They also can represent each enterprise of the dairy, especially if key individuals are not a part of the main team.
In smaller farms, the owner/manager forms a subteam, meeting with one key adviser and bringing those results back to the whole team to keep the entire team informed and to use them as a clearinghouse for long-range plans.
How are subteams established?
A miniumum of three individuals with expertise or interest in a specific area focus on that area, developing action plans to address concerns or timely tasks. Examples: reproduction, nutrition, crops, herd health, financial analyses.
A properly functioning subteam…
…works towards the goals established by the advisory team.
…establishes a system for reporting to the advisory team.
Virtual or Distributed Teams
For advisory teams where key people are not able to be present at team meetings, due to scheduling difficulties or geographic location.
How does a virtual or distributed team meet?
Electronically (telephone conference call, Internet connection, E-mail, etc.). In some cases, a consultant may make only one or two visits per year to the dairy but accesses data remotely and provides reports to the local advisory team or meets with the team electronically.
How do you keep members of a virtual or distributed team from feeling isolated or "not a part of the group"?
If possible, schedule the first meeting so everyone can meet face-to-face.
Take a picture of "the team" with all of its members and make copies for everyone.
Make certain that everyone on the team has all of the information for each meeting and that everyone participates.
Modified Board of Directors
For advisory teams that have a more strategic focus rather than emphasis on short-term improvements.
How does a modified board of directors differ from a traditional team?
Generally a larger, more-inclusive group.
Has longer meetings but meets less frequently.
Experts serving on the team may be more geographically dispersed.
Use one or more consultants with similar or complimentary areas of expertise.
May have seven to twelve members rather than the four to six members.
How does a modified board of directors function?
The producer acts as chairman of the advisory board, but unlike a true board of directors the group provides advice only and the dairy owner, not the board, makes the final decisions.