At a recent “Green to Gold” Discussion Group I was privileged to meet Olly & Kim Gibberd who are milking over 1600 cows on the 693 ha effective Tauhara Moana dairy farm. Olly & Kim are the DairyNZ Central North Island Focus Farm. I expected to see excellent farm management (which is what I witnessed) but I wasn’t expecting to see a Farm Business Management innovation in the Herringbone shed office.
Dairy Farm Team Whiteboard Communication System. This is very definitely Kim’s baby but it has evolved from a very strong leadership approach by both Olly & Kim. Although they lead by example, their leadership style is one of allowing the Farm Team to manage themselves & to take individual responsibility for their own actions in contributing towards the overall Farm Performance.
Olly sets the work environment boundaries & the tone in which he expects the team to work together. Everyone in the team knows what the farm business targets are & what is expected of them as individuals in the team.
What Kim has done is a piece of Farm Business Management genius. She has embedded the key leadership philosophies and the daily tactical management tasks into a Whiteboard Communication system, which is very visual, clearly understood & on which every farm team member contributes every day. This has been achieved by using a series of large Whiteboards around the milking shed office walls. Each Whiteboard is a communication system to individual team members & management. Tasks are set & once completed, all recorded as having been successfully finished. Essential animal health recording of treatments, withholding periods & cow ID are all recorded on the Office Whiteboard system. There is a separate Whiteboard to identify weeds & spraying tasks….this is based on a large farm map.
Olly & Kim have developed their own unique staff bonus system called the $5 Bonus…it’s based on a $5 reward for a job well done & a $5 penalty for not being at work on time or a job not completed (especially if it causes other staff problems e.g. not shutting gates)…..& you guessed it there’s a “$5 Whiteboard”. Fines are written in red & bonuses are written in blue……it’s very visual & every team member’s bonus performance is clearly visible.
I think this system could over time evolve further to be computer/smartphone based using cloud technology.Each dairy farm could develop their own “Whiteboard Communication System” but don’t rush in and get a heap of boards produced. The Tauhara Moana system has developed over time with staff involvement (it has not been imposed from above) & a Farm Management leadership style which devolves responsibility to the Farm Team to manage, operate & take ownership.
The Ahuwhenua Trust Awards field day at Tauhara Moana, just north of Taupo is on the 3rd May. I suggest you put it into your diary & on the day have a look at the Whiteboards in the Milking Shed Office.
Congratulations Olly & Kim, I was very impressed.