Spring in Iowa is planting season and right now farmers are diligently preparing their fields for crops. It is a precise science that has grown by leaps and bounds in the past century. Stan, a senior leader at GreatAmerica, told a story about farming productivity some months back that made me think hard about what farmers can teach all of us about standardization.
A World of Change
The story began with Stan’s long drives through the country with his 100-year-old grandfather “Buster” who farmed all of his life. Stan noticed how his grandfather was always scrutinizing the corn fields. Curious, Stan asked his grandfather what the average yield was when he began farming in the 1930s. Buster said 60 bushels an acre would have been a good result.
Whats in a bushel? A bushel of corn is equivalent to 56 pounds.
Today that number is closer to 200 bushels an acre.
In the last 100 years, farmers have successfully quadrupled their corn yields.
If you think of an acre as roughly the size of a football field, farmers can now get four times as much corn out of that space than in 1927. This has been critical for several reasons. Urban sprawl is making land less available, and worldwide population is going up. So how did they do it?
The Levers Being Pulled
Mechanization improvements (from horse-drawn plow to smart tractors) are a huge reason for the advancements we’ve seen in farming. But there are additional factors at work to make this happen:
- Seeds planted at ideal intervals and densities.
- More robust and durable seeds.
- Advancement in fertilizer and weed control chemistry and application.
- Smarter farmers with access to training, education, and computerization.
Standardization in Practice
The remarkable outcome seen in agriculture over the past 100 years is the result of many people coordinating solutions to a singular challenge. In listening to Stan relay the message, I couldn’t help but notice that farmers have done what technology companies wish to do within their customer base: increase efficiency and standardize practices to improve the delivery of a product.
Mature MSPs are already doing this. They only deploy and service a specific set of hardware and software products, delivering a better experience for their customer and making their services more profitable.
How Does This Apply?
This is a critical time in business – especially for you in technology. Fewer people are expected to do more work. Efficiency is the name of the game, and farmers have figured that out. By standardizing your customers’ equipment, services and practices, your team members will be more efficient, and your customers will be happier.
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