Tips For Overcoming Paradigm Lockdown

Usually after giving a talk, a number of people will come to visit with me. I’m still somewhat surprised when some assure me there’s no way my suggestions will work in their environment.

“That won’t work on my place.” I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that with reference to planned grazing. There are only two places that planned grazing won’t work. One is under water and the other is on the side of a sheer cliff where even a goat can’t get a footing. — jtl

by Burke Teichert in Strategic Planning For The Ranch

It’s easy to get caught in “paradigm lockdown.” I think we all do to a certain extent. However, the best ranchers continually resist paradigm lockdown; they’re always looking for new ideas and better ways.

Paradigm is a person’s world view or the way one looks at or sees the current situation. In ranching, it’s the way you operate or run your business. Throughout my career as a ranch manager, and especially now as a consultant and speaker, I’ve met and talked with a lot of ranch managers and owners.

Usually after giving a talk, a number of people will come to visit with me. I’m still somewhat surprised when some assure me there’s no way my suggestions will work in their environment. Others express appreciation for the ideas, tell me they’re already using some of them, and thank me for the additional insights into how to progress further.

I know ranchers who are “absolutely sure” they’re doing exactly what should be done on their ranch despite the fact they’re losing money. Others seem to understand there is a better way to do everything they do; they just haven’t discovered it yet. They even admit that radical changes may be needed to make them profitable, or more profitable.

Paradigm lockdown

It’s easy to get caught in “paradigm lockdown.” I think we all do to a certain extent. However, some continually resist paradigm lockdown; they’re always looking for new ideas and better ways.

After having been involved in ranches in several very different locations, I know it is unrealistic to expect that all my ideas in this column can be used in all situations. The ideas simply are presented as a “mind stretch” to help readers think differently, or expand their thinking to embrace and evaluate new and different ideas. The objective is to become a “possibility thinker” – a person who asks himself, “What could I do that would make this ranch more profitable? Is there something radically different that we should consider and analyze?” This should become an attitude or mindset that is revisited frequently.

Many ranchers do what they do very well but still aren’t profitable, or are only minimally profitable. Thus, improving what you’re currently doing will seldom yield significant bottom-line improvement. Spending money, time and effort to improve your pregnancy rate, reduce death loss, make calves bigger, or to make yearlings gain more are all important, but won’t make the big improvement often sought. As ranchers, we have a strong tendency to do things right – and we’re very good at it. We should spend more time on being sure we are doing the right things.

The big changes in profitability usually come from radical changes in grazing management, changes in cow size and heterosis, changing from cow-calf to cow-calf and yearling, yearling, or vice versa, changing the calving season to better align feed requirements with the availability and quality of grazed feed, doing things to enable more grazing and less feeding or to make a drastic reduction in overheads.

At first thought, these changes almost always seem impossible or impractical, but there’s usually someone not too far away who is already doing one or more of them. I understand. I was there, mentally and emotionally, for far too long. In my online article of Aug. 28, 2012, I related an experience with a rancher in northeast Wyoming that began to jolt me out of paradigm lockdown. Since then I have made a concerted effort to meet and talk to people who are doing things differently.


Books by Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume

A Handbook for Ranch Managers A Comprehensive Reference Manual for Managing the Working Ranch. Click here to buy the paperback version from Land & Livestock International’s Rancher Supply aStore.

Digital media products such as Kindle can only be purchased on Click Here to buy the Kendall Version on

To purchase an autographed copy of the book Click Here


The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits.  Click here to buy the paperback version from Land & Livestock International’s Rancher Supply aStore.

Digital media products such as Kindle can only be purchased on Click Here to buy the Kendall Version on

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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2 Responses to Tips For Overcoming Paradigm Lockdown

  1. Pat Maas says:

    You’re right Jimmy about that, about folks not believing it will work on their place. Having had to find ways to heal the land on my own after many mistakes and oopsies, found the recipe and from there could do grazing in what had been bare, cobbled land. It had to be done in a rotational manner as was not going to see it back to the way it had been. Am doing more restoration work and come this spring and summer there will be gamma and other grasses where the work had been done. Late summer, fall and winter is the best time for this in my very dry clime, at least for this place. If you can show monitoring pictures in sequence of a few months to years, in an area readily accessed, it helps.


  2. Paul D. Butler says:

    Great post!


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