Records Are A Waste Of Time
Some people think that records are THE key to managerial success. Not me. I think most records are a waste of time. Records give us data. We need information. It takes analysis to turn data into useful information.
The problem is we spend 90% or more of our time collecting the data and only 10%, if that, doing any analysis. If records are going to be useful, we need to turn those percentages around.
Even if we spend more time on the analysis there’s another problem: We can get so focused on looking things up we forget that it is even more important to think things through. As we look up how much we spent on supplement last year, we neglect thinking about how forage conditions and prices have changed and thinking through our options to adjust.
Do I really think that all records are a waste of time. No. At Ranching For Profit there are three criteria we use to determine if a record is worth keeping. It needs to be specific, timely, and comparable to a plan.
Specific so that it actually gives you the information you need to make decisions. This is one reason why I think unit cost of production is practically useless. It isn’t specific enough to have any diagnostic value. Records need to be specific.
Timely? It has to be something that is relevant NOW.
And comparable to a plan … well, if there isn’t a plan to start with and a target you are aiming at, the data you collect is just noise.
Your stock flow, grazing chart and cash flow are all examples of extremely useful records. In fact, each of these is a plan and a record in one document. Ranching For Profit School graduates use these tools to make projections AND to record the actuals AND to make course adjustments as the year progresses. They are specific, timely and comparable to a plan.
I challenge you to make a list of all of the records you keep. What proportion of your time do you spend collecting the data? How much time do you spend actually using it? Challenge the records you keep against the criteria I’ve laid out. If they don’t meet the three criteria, throw them out. They are a waste of time.