So far I could be talking about the over enthusiastic new chief executive of any large organisation who arrives with a background in a different business but has lots of ideas for making better use of resources, improving performance and increasing income. However if I said this individual gets very excited by big, powerful, expensive machinery. Has a gift for generating controversy and as a high profile petrol head would be the last person you would think would be interested in the environment. If you still haven’t guessed who I am talking about then if I say Lamborghini tractor, battles with the local council, and what happens when a t.v. celebrity opens a farm shop and causes traffic chaos in rural village. I am referring to Jeremy Clarkson as featured in the fly on the wall documentary Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon.
Jeremy Clarkson attempts to modernise and diversify his newly acquired farm illustration many of the issues organisations experience when a new chief executive attempts to do the same.
It’s not a romantic view of farming, it’s not about the harsh life of a hill farmer, it’s not about industrial farming it’s about modern farming as a business, an ethical business in which the farmer does not exploit the land but looks after it. It’s typical of many organisations in that someone brought in to modernise does not necessarily have a background in or professional knowledge of the industry. They do have ideas for improving efficiency and profitability but rely on the expertise around them to make it happen. As is shown in the program the experienced professionals don’t try and stop the changes they identify the barriers and obstacles but then provide guidance and help to over come them. Some ideas work better than others.
The TV series shows just how difficult it is to diversify , there are those who think you should stick with what you know, there is the initial capital outlay required for equipment, buildings and stock. There are additional hops to go through to comply with legislation, there is the complex process of applying for funding/grants, there is the challenging process of gaining planning permission in an area of outstanding beauty, and despite creating additional employment and throwing a life line to local small businesses there is local opposition to be won over. All of this taking place under the glare and close scrutiny of the media.
Many organisations will be familiar with some or most of these obstacles to change. From a lack of confidence in a new chief executive with no background in the business, to selling the vision . From tackling extensive bureaucracy seemingly designed to frustration change to securing the funding to resource the changes. From dealing with opposition to the proposals to managing the media. From knowing diddly squat to being very quickly up to speed.