If you ever wanted to see a family run enterprise in full decision-making mode, come hang out at the Barten kitchen table on a late Sept/early Oct evening. Fran, my lovely mother-in-law, is the ever magnanimous CEO, CFO, COO, and president of Barten Pumpkins, with her 11 children and associated spouses filling in any other job requirement needed. Everyone has opinions, and somehow, they all get played out, listened to, and acted on in this cacophony of beautifully managed chaos. Pumpkin season at the Barten farm is one of the best run enterprises I have encountered to date.
Every Dozinky weekend the Barten family comes together at the family farm in Minnesota to begin the pumpkin harvest festivities. Delegation and leadership abound. Ever hour is taken advantage of, because when it comes to pumpkins, there is always an opportunity cost for your time. If you take an extra long lunch and leave a load of pumpkins in the field at dark, a frost could take them out that evening.
Since my first Barten pumpkin season in 2008, the operation has grown in dynamism. There is an ever-expanding family fun day, regular games, hay rides, bonfires, and new this year a Pumpkin Palooza. If you need a break from the city, volunteers are always welcome, just come ready to work and with a good sense of humor.
Harvard Business School take note – I found your next case study.