How The DIRTT Project™ Works

The DIRTT ProjectThe industry surrounding succession planning is a confusing maze of professionals and firms trying to get your attention.

If you are trying to find information regarding succession planning – that can be confusing too.  Most of the information about succession planning is delivered through workshops or articles written in a magazine.  The challenge with these modes of delivery are 1) information may be presented by people lacking the expertise required to speak on the topic of family business succession planning 2) the information is delivered out of context; and you may not know how to apply it to your situation.  Additionally, once you have the information you may find it difficult to talk to your professionals about what you heard once you get back home.

I have watched the confusion surrounding succession planning grow over the past few years.  After having a heart-wrenching conversation with a producer from Minnesota, I decided that we simply must do better. Succession planning is as critical to the viability and success of an operation as being a good operator.  The industry is making succession planning resources difficult to find. In doing so, control of the process itself is being removed from the hands of the business owner.

The solution would have to do the following:

  1. Put control of the process in the hands of the producer(s).
  2. Be comprehensive.  It would have to look at the total process of succession planning.
  3. Be simple and easy to follow.
  4. Focus on the biggest variable of succession planning – the people.
  5. Be accessible on demand.

The DIRTT Project™ was developed with these parameters in mind.

I also decided that it wouldn’t be much of a solution if we held back the recipe to the “secret sauce”. I took a hard look at the processes I use when working with families building their succession plans. From there, I began developing tools for each step of the process.  I wanted to not only give a family the place to start, but also the ability to look ahead so they would know where to expect some of the rough patches that inevitably happen and how to work through them.

The outcome was The DIRTT Project™. A solution which enables a family to walk through the complexity of succession planning step-by-step and at their own pace.

The DIRTT Project™ works by combining coaching and guidance. It is the culmination of over 20 years of experience working with families who run businesses together; and delivering it through 32 easy to follow instructional videos.  The videos work hand-in-hand with a 60-page workbook, which will allow the transitioning owner and family members to create a succession plan that is 100% customized to their farming business.

Once we finalized production of The DIRTT Project™, the next challenge was going to be keeping everyone moving through the process.  I know I get distracted easily – especially if there is something more urgent that needs to get done.  The reality is, there are many urgent things that occur in each season on a farm.  If The DIRTT Project™ got shelved for over half of the year to deal with all the required activities, no one would ever get a succession plan finished, much less implemented effectively.  The DIRTT Project™ needed to provide a support system.  The DIRTT Project™ Mastermind Group and The Vault were created to work hand-in-hand with The DIRTT Project™.

The DIRTT Project™ Mastermind Group provides accountability and allows decision makers to have access to professionals who are experts in farm succession planning.  The DIRTT Project™ Mastermind Group also provides a support system for farm families who are going through transition and may be facing the same questions and challenges.

Dirt stays productive only if it is cared for.  The Vault was created so that The DIRTT Project™ will remain current, vital, and never stop growing.  The Vault contains the most relevant information about succession planning; with new content contributed by the most knowledgeable professionals in their area of expertise.  Information on tax, estate, financial, business, and succession planning will be added each month.  My personal goal is that The Vault will become the largest collection of information to support succession planning in the world.

The process of succession planning is the same for a business whether it is small or large.  My sincere hope is that there will never be another business owner who fails to prepare for succession due to a lack of resources or support.

Learn more about The DIRTT Project™ at