How dairy consultants help farmers design improved farming systems: The diagnosis and solving of low profitability problems by an expert dairy consultant
DairyNZ have developed a training programme to improve the capability of novice consultants and this is being tested across seven consultancy firms. One important source of knowledge that would be useful for this training programme,is the knowledge held by experienced farm management consultants. New Zealand has a pool of very experienced farm management consultants with expertise in farm management consultancy. If this pool of expertise could be captured, it could then be passed on to novice farm management consultants to greatly enhance their capability. However, little research has been undertaken on the practices of New Zealand farm management consultants to date. In 2014, a pilot study was initiated to investigate how an “expert” dairy consultant helped a new client design an improved farming system. The pilot study obtained an overview of the problem solving process used by the expert consultant to help design an improved farming system for a new client, but limited detail into how the consultant diagnosed and developed solutions for specific problems such as low levels of profitability or low levels of milk solids production. This study seeks to extend the work undertaken during the pilot study to provide an in-depth understanding of the specific problem solving processes an expert consultant uses to diagnose and develop solutions for a new client whose farm business is achieving low levels of profitability. The primary aim of the consultant was to help his clients better meet their goals. As such, he operates as a change agent where he tries to facilitate change in his clients’ attitudes, social norms, knowledge, skills and behaviour. Where possible, the consultant adopts a participatory approach to problem solving with the client to ensure problem ownership. He likes clients to actively participate in the process as long as they do him the courtesy of listening to his advice. He is prepared to take the character and goals of clients into account to some extent when responding to clients, but does not change his basic modus operandi. The results from this study highlight that a good consultant needs to be independent and objective with good people skills. They also need to think systemically, be open to new ideas, adaptable, experienced, knowledgeable, analytical, logical and goal-focused.... [Show full abstract]
KeywordsDairyNZ; training programme; novice consultants; farm management consultancy; participatory approach
Fields of Research0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management; 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness
TypeReport (Technical Report)
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