Seed World

In Tough Times, Think Like a Coach, Not Like a Fan

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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We’ve all done it. Our favorite team losses a close game and our first reaction is to blame the poor or biased officiating. We recount every call that didn’t go our team’s way and wonder what might have been had the game been officiated properly.

It’s a common reaction. We know our team’s capability to play well and have our own biased view about how a fair game should have been called. We forget about the dropped pass, the bad throw or the missed kick. We also tend to forget the referee calls that benefited our team, yet never seem to forget the bad call that hurt our team. Fans have the luxury of not being responsible for winning the next game.

Coaches and players have a much different reaction. They watch the game film after every contest to determine how they can play better and what they can do differently to win in the future. Watching the game film allows the coaches and players to see exactly what they did right and what they did wrong on every play. The game film is watched, replayed, watched in slow motion and replayed again. Every play is dissected and analyzed. The referee calls aren’t discussed. The focus is on what they can do better as a team and as individual players.

Business leaders need to make sure they think like coaches and not like fans. The weather, farm economy and consolidation pressure create real challenges for seed businesses. The reaction to those powerful outside forces should be one of internal reflection and focused effort to improve. Don’t let the fan reaction seep into the management decisions.

When you feel overwhelmed by situations beyond your control, watch the game film of your business. Think back to your past hires, your product choices, your expansion strategies, the budgeting process and leadership training. Analyze what have you got right and where can you improve. Make sure the entire team sees the company game film too. Anyone placing too much emphasis on external factors will miss the opportunity for self-improvement.

In business and sports, the most important game is always the next one. The referees and external forces working against your business will always be there and they won’t always be fair. What you can control is how prepared your team and business is to handle anything that comes its way.