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Lessons Learned

Technology and distance learning play valuable role amid global challenges

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Some time ago, I worked with a guy who, when things were going well, was constantly agitated, always asking “what are we missing? What do we need to change?” He couldn’t take “it’s going well” for an answer.

On the other hand, when things were turbulent and tumbling, he was the voice of calm: “Let’s stop and think this through for a minute. It’s not that bad. We can figure something out.” His failure to panic steadied everyone on the team, even in the face of tough recession.

I think about that difference a lot today. We’ve never seen anything like this. Any of us. A pandemic, shutdowns, lockdowns, layoffs and things dropping so fast you’d swear there wasn’t a floor. A slight recovery. A dip. Good news. Bad news. More bad news. Then more people explaining that the bad news actually wasn’t all that bad.

Never quite sure who to believe, right?

In talking with many of the people I know in this industry, though, it almost seemed like there was a collective deep breath, a bit of calm in the middle of turbulence. The “work is where you are at” crowd has had a chance to prove that connected technologies can let people work and work well from wherever they happen to be.

Distance learning is finding greater traction. Within our industry you’ll find all sorts of opportunities to expand your horizons, whether it’s Feed & Grain’s LIVE webinar series, GEAPS virtual Exchange or AFIA’s webinar series for the Purchasing & Ingredient Suppliers Conference, as just a few examples.

There are important lessons we’re learning in our offices, feed mills and elevators as well. While I am a firm believer in “management by bumping into,” having the whole team working out of the office has helped me see that people can consistently make good decisions on their own, need less of me looking over their shoulder (not that I did it that much!), validated that we don’t need constant discussions and meetings and that a few well-timed conference calls or Zoom meetings can help us all stay on track, updated, focused and working well. Even if we are sitting home in our sweatpants.

Many of you have found the same opportunity. Out of this mess, we will find better work processes and new protocols that will help us better get through the next hurdle.

I hope you are well, working with calm, intense focus and getting set for good days ahead. ■

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