I've long felt it absolutely essential that, as managers, we must focus not only on making incremental improvements to our product and production efficiencies, but also embrace bold approaches to management and marketing.

Incremental improvements are critical to keeping you competitive from a cost standpoint, and helps build your image in the minds of customers. While everyone intuitively understands that remaining competitive means embracing change, few might realize how critical "disruptive innovation" can be to long-term success.

Perhaps you feel that because you're a cow-calf producer, you can't be radical, bold and innovative. But along with the sustained incremental improvements we all strive for, we must accept that what is required for success today will be woefully inadequate for success in the future. The future will rest on marketing and production methods that are significantly different then those of today.

Any sizable growth will be created by some degree of experimentation. In some cases, that may be old ideas put together in an innovative way. But most new products, new markets, big jumps in sales, income and customer service aren't derived from incremental improvements.

Michael Masterson is an Internet entrepreneur who talks about "the right mix" in regard to innovative improvement vs. disruptive innovation. In his business, he says, they need to create one new product every year for every four or five existing products. That may be a bit ambitious for the cattle business, but I'm convinced we all need a program to promote both kinds of innovation in our businesses.