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Looking Past The Numbers

What We Measure Tends To Improve

Published on Monday, May 26, 2014

“What we measure tends to improve.” Francis Beck regarded that quote as one of his favorites.

                        Francis Beck comparing hybrids by measuring the ear length.

I am not sure who originally said this, or if this is even the original way in which it was stated. But what I have learned over my career here at Beck’s, and especially the last year or two, is that this is definitely a sentiment that I believe in.

However, I believe there was a little piece of the saying left off. I believe the whole saying would go something like “What we measure tends to improve, especially when measured during competition”.

It started for me when I was younger and playing games with friends and family. Warm-up time or practice rounds were okay, but ultimately I was having more fun when the score was being kept. That competitive spirit has progressed most of my life. Church league softball when I was an adult was the same way. My wife would ask if I had fun at the game. I responded with whether we had won or not. She reminded me that I was supposed to be there to have fun and fellowship. I reminded her that I have more fun when I am winning.

Most recently I thought about some of the competitions I have witnessed here at work. Some I have partaken in personally such as our fitness challenges. Last year, we held a “Beck Trek”, which was a competition where teams of six measured their steps on a daily basis and recorded them. Tracking steps was a good way to ensure staying active throughout the day, but I’ll be honest. Had it not been for the sense of competition in knowing that my team was up against other teams measuring their steps, I would not have put in nearly as many steps.

                 When the next Beck Trek comes around, not only will I be competing against other
           teams, but I will try to beat my personal best number of steps in a given day from last year.

Many of you may be thinking that I might be a little overboard in my level of competition. I don’t believe I’m alone in my tendency to like to compete with others, while measuring results.

Take, for example, farmers and yield monitors. We are measuring how the crop performed in certain areas of the fields and across different years. It is an excellent practice to evaluate what variables worked best in terms of improving yields and implement those variables across more acres.

Farmers' yields are one of the best examples of measuring results to improve. How about the competition portion of my quote? Do farmers need to compete in order to really feel that extra satisfaction when it comes to measuring success?

Competition comes in several formats. One very formal competition is our very own Beck 300 Challenge. Farmers from all over our marketing area implement different strategies on their farm to help increase yield level, and ultimately reach 300Bu./A. They measure the results and then submit them to Beck’s to see how their results compare to others that entered the competition. Great things have been learned on the farm, yields have been increased and fun was definitely had – all while measuring results in the midst of competition.

                                              2013 Beck 300 Challenge Winners

Whether as formal as the Beck 300 Challenge, or informal as beating your best on farm average or telling stories down at the coffee shop, all of these “competitions” make it fun to try to improve. I am a firm believer that these types of competitions help us stay motivated and enjoy what we are doing.

So if you would like to lose a few pounds, better your cholesterol score, get more steps in for a day, or raise more bushels of corn or soybeans, try to make it a fun competition with yourself or a like-minded competitor.

If we measure it during competition, it tends to improve, and we have fun along the way – it will certainly be considered a success.

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Doug Clouser

Doug Clouser

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