The Joy of Building a Farm

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When you start a new job it’s very scary. You don’t know the people, you don’t know the land, and you don’t have any local currency —meaning resources or relationships—which to build or barter.

What you do have are the lessons of the past, combined with observations of the present.

One thing I did not realize about myself was how much I love to build things. Not necessarily from scratch. I love to take things that are in a certain state of being and rethink them, rework them, stretch them out like Silly Putty and twist them around and back until they assume a more sustainable shape.

It is a visceral pleasure. I get pleasure just from talking about it.

When you’re standing in the middle of the beginning, so to speak, it feels like complete chaos. Some people don’t like that. But I do.

A communicator like me fundamentally wants to write things. Maybe you’re a visual communicator instead, or a podcaster, or whatever. However you express yourself, the creative impulse is so strong.

But a builder is interested in harnessing the communicators’ collective power through establishing a structure, a method and a repeated set of processes that in effect are a highly productive farm.

(No this is not the CIA farm LOL…still that Q research is in me.)

A farm cannot function effectively without happy chickens and a robust technology platform.

I can see it in my head. The best visions are not a million years in the future. This one feels like it will take about two years to realize. We’ll see.

It occurs to me that I am learning, for the first time in my life, to see learning itself as the process. This is what the brilliant organizational theorist Chris Argyris called “double-loop learning,” in which we actively question how we think about the things we think.

One aspect of learning that is crucial, and I am not giving it enough space here, is PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY. In order for the farm to run we’ll, the chickens can’t be shrieking and running all over the place.

Change itself is anxiety-provoking, not just for me, the new person, but also for the organization. The stranger is akin to a rock being thrown into the water.

So calming things down and establishing a semblance of order is key.

Just to document what the order of operations is—actually it’s more of a cycle:

1. Get organized through some sort of technology interface (any case management system that allows collaboration; it can be as simple as shared folders on the network, but I prefer a web interface)

2. Establish a daily meeting schedule to touch base on how everyone is feeling, discuss the status of projects and programs (assignments) and surface problems

3. Delete work that is unnecessary

4. Delegate work that requires extra hands

5. Do the work, spacing it out into a manageable schedule

6. Document the work (think of this as billable hours; what have you done, what was the purpose, what was the productive result)

7. Develop templates based on completed work for future use

8. Solicit and listen to feedback (after-action review)

9. Adjust the work flow based on feedback

10. Set aside time for pure brainstorming

….and then go back to #1 and start again.

All of this does not include the time you have to spend on:

1. Actual training (devise a training plan)

2. Networking with others across the organization and externally

3. Administrative matters

4. Self-care

5. Work-life balance

Will I use these lessons to one day build my own independent farm (communications consultancy) one day? Maybe.

For now, I am hoping to write all this down and share what I can, to assist both myself in acclimating successfully, and you in building your own endeavors.

Last thought: The specifics are not important, but the method and timing of this change clearly reflects God’s open intervention. I do not know what the ultimate plan is—have learned to simply be grateful for waking up in the morning—but the obviousness of His active supervision of all aspects of our daily lives is absolutely mind-blowing.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.