CEO Report: Continuing the evolution of WMG

By Nathan Craig, WMG Chief Executive Officer

It is a really exciting time to be at the helm of WMG as we take the covers off a whole suite of innovation in the way we engage and deliver to our farming members. Read on to learn more about how WMG will be working with its farming community in 2024.

For the past three years, WMG has been focused on answering one question – How do we deliver the outcomes that we promise in our project applications? This has led us to tear apart the whole organisation and put it back together, piece by piece, in order to address this question. There are three key aspects of project delivery that we focus on, including activities, outputs, and outcomes, with each leading to the next in order to achieve what the project has been designed for. To achieve this, we have had to change the way we structure the activities and outputs of the organisation. Many of the tools that we needed to engage effectively with our farming community were already in use by WMG, but they needed to be trimmed and polished a bit to get them working better together. This restructure does have an impact (hopefully positive) on our farming community.

Activities are what we do in the field and are now focused on working with our farming members to trial and make an informed decision on whether or not to adopt a new practice or technology. You can read about this in other posts on the WMG website, but in essence, our role is to support farmers to work through the innovation and decide if it is right for them – not all practices or technologies are universally adoptable. We encourage our farming members to reach out with an idea or challenge to address – chances are that we have a project that you can slip straight into with other like-minded farmers.

Our outputs have two main focuses – they are what come from our on-ground activities.

We are engaging directly with our farming community through small group activities to facilitate information sharing in the region. My view has always been that if you want a problem solved, just get a handful of farmers in the room – their experience and know-how will soon find an answer. The calendar is being filled with a range of small group meetings during the year on a range of topics – we encourage all members to find the ones that resonate most with them and come along. This approach varies from the traditional grower group practice of having large, full-day events with multiple topics and speakers, and allows greater farmer engagement and discussion on a specific topic.

All the activities and outputs from WMG are now housed on the WMG website for each project, along with the latest news and calendar of events. I encourage everyone to take a look through the websites as there are some fun things to play with that have been scattered throughout the site. I would like to acknowledge WMG Extension Officers Simon Kruger for his massive efforts in developing this website, and Melanie Dixon for helping to get all of the project information up on the website. There is still way more information and innovation to find its way to the website, and we will let you know in due course when we do our updates.

To reflect the many changes in the organisation, there has been a restructure of our roles within WMG.

On a sad note, we recently said farewell to Michelle Johnson after nearly three years of service to WMG. Michelle has left a significant legacy in the organisation after helping to develop a lot of the back-end processes and frameworks that we need to be an efficient organisation, much of this won’t be visible to our members. We wish Michelle all the best in her future endeavours.

The remaining roles of WMG have been reclassified to better reflect where the organisation has grown to in the past two years. My role has now moved up to Chief Executive Officer to reflect the professional approach that the organisation and board have adopted, and in recognition of the depth and complexity of the process that we have in place across the organisation.

The roles of Communications and Project Officers has become quite blurry of late as we focus strongly on extension and now our on-ground team have transitioned to an Extension Officer role. Each extension officer has their specialisation, with Melanie focusing on data and project management and Simon on media and stakeholder engagement. We envisage that future Extension Officer roles will include other specialisations as the organisation and the needs of our members evolve.

Moving forward, the speed of change appears to be increasing as we complete many of our planned changes for this year. There are a number of posts on the website now that outline the process that has moved WMG to the strong position that we are now in. The capacity built in the organisation during this time will serve well into the future, but the way we have gone about innovating within the organisation will allow WMG to continue to evolve well into the future.

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