Seeking Succession vs Seeking Success

There’s a lot of talk about “succession” being tossed around in agriculture. It occurred to me that some people might not be quite sure what that term means, especially since we seem to have more than one kind of succession to talk about. Currently, a lot of the talk seems to be centered on business and inheritance, but not so long ago it was all about ecological systems. Since I’m getting on in years, I believe I’ll begin with a little discussion of the “succession” I grew up with. Ecological Succession Ecological succession is the concept that populations - especially plant populations - change over time, not only in number, but also in relationship to each other. In other words, as time goes on, the number or density or ratio of any particular species to another will change. Environmental conditions change, ecosystems evolve, populations adjust. And these changes are somewhat predictable, if we pay attention. I believe my first exposure to this idea came at a very young age, by reading the old Time/Life book series called the Life of the Pond, the Forest, the Prairie

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

3 thoughts on “Seeking Succession vs Seeking Success

  1. Great article.
    Some people assume that succession refers to an orderly process of change. Unfortunately, succession on family ranches is rarely orderly. It is often unplanned, abrupt, violent (violence doesn’t have to be physical), and leads to negative, unanticipated consequences. I think the mess usually begins with an important misunderstanding of business. The primary purpose of most ranches is to serve the owners and their families. But the primary purpose of a real business is to serve a customer. As Gregg Simmons once told me, “you can only serve yourself through service to others. It’s true in life and true in business.
    You can only sustainably create owner value by delivering customer value.
    More to the point on succession:
    Every good business needs a transition plan, but no one ever said that plan can’t “be close the doors and walk away.” No one ever said a good business had to last forever. Congratulations on building a successful business.

  2. John,
    Your words come at an interesting time when after 7 years of custom grazing dairy heifers that relationship has come to an end. Now I’m thinking hard what is next for our 100 acre farm. The quotes, “Design the ranch to fit your life, not the other way around.” and “I think I will continue to refine our ranching model, adjusting to environmental changes, and hopefully spending a bit more time having fun”, resonate well. But what is the delicate balance with so many considerations? I guess with all this freakin’ rain, I’ll have time to ponder and scratch out some enterprise analysis. Like you, I have become more environmental than business-like but since we have a 4,5 and 6 generation family it’s still in the mission to not degradate the land or bankrupt it. So when someone “wants too” not “is obligated too” run the farm they will have all the opportunities we had. It almost seems as if I’m in self-preservation mode that seeks to do no harm. But after attending Dave Pratt’s meeting, I’m questioning this hypothesis. Profit is still needed. My head hurts! Thank you for your sentiment today. Keep inspiring! GW

  3. Thank you for giving advice to those of us who are not going to be “passing on the farm” to family members. I especially appreciated this sentence from your bio: “He has a life-long interest in ecology, trying to understand how plants, animals, soils and humans fit together.” You have company here in Quick, B.C.

Comments are closed.

Translate »