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Delivery styles meet Futureprofit customer needs

Karen George

DPI, PO Box 11 Mundubbera, QLD, 4626


Futureprofit products and services are delivered to land managers in a group environment. The style of delivery adopted by each facilitator is considered a critical success factor of the program and its products. Futureprofit products include an integrated workshop series and separate individual needs based workshops. This paper provides details and findings of a recent Masters project exploring Futureprofit delivery styles and results achieved by the differing styles.

Key words

Futureprofit, Property Management Planning, Delivery, Adult Learning


Futureprofit is an extension program provided by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, it is designed to assist land managers deal with change through a flexible, whole of farm strategic planning process. The way in which Futureprofit is delivered is dependant on the individual facilitating and delivering the program. Variation in delivery style can effect the flexibility of the program, the content and processes used in the delivery of workshops, timing of workshops, marketing and follow up services provided.

The Futureprofit program's distinguishing features are:

  • Whole systems content,
  • Planning process,
  • Farm family focus and
  • Adult learning delivery.

Futureprofit meets stakeholder needs by empowering participants to goal-driven learning. Futureprofit empowers participants in the program by helping them identify "what they don't know they don't know", helping them to meet their goals through meeting some of their learning needs. Futureprofit remains flexible and adaptable to meet specific needs of the group and the individual, eg. Industry- based groups.

(Department of Primary Industries Futureprofit conference 2000, pp 2-3)

Deliverers have control over how the products and services are provided to customers and how well individual customers needs are met. Atkins (1999) reported on the different styles of the program and highlighted the culture of Futureprofit delivery by stating, it is “the way things are done around here”.

Letts (1996, pp. 5), stated Futureprofit delivery methods are described as an effective adult learning activity. Letts quoted Malouff (1993) as stating:

'Farm families within workshop groups are offered a range of workshops from mapping the properties physical resources to transferring the family farm between generations. The range of workshops are developed locally according to locally identified needs and to suit local conditions. This is consistent with the need to ensure learning activities are relevant to the needs of adults.'

Program development, marketing, application of adult learning principles, presentation methods and evaluation methods are generally different across the state with each deliverer adding their own preferred styles giving the program a 'local flavour'.

The research project was undertaken at a time where the program was undergoing a period of change. The major changes focussed on how the program was to be delivered, managed and administered into the future. From June 2001 Futureprofit has been managed and delivered under the wing of Innovative Rural Management. Letts (2000) outlined that:

“The emphasis of this unit will be on continuous improvement. A performance management approach will be adopted with an effort made to seek maximum efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery. A functional area associated with business and community network development and facilitation of ongoing learning will be developed. This area is consistent with a lot of the work currently performed by Futureprofit staff.”

Delivery styles of Futureprofit have been outlined and discussed since the program was formed. Recommendations for delivery have been documented over the past decade with some recommendations remaining relevant whilst others have been superseded. Delivery recommendation focus has continually changed as demanded, in much the same way Futureprofit program delivery has flexed with demand. Delivery includes some elements of recommendations from the beginning of the last decade and other new recommendations resulting from achievements in the program. There had been no specific evaluations of Futureprofit delivery styles, even though the flexibility of program delivery was considered a major process feature of the program.

Research methods

To determine the most effective way of delivering the Futureprofit program, past and present participants, deliverers, stakeholders and coordinators were surveyed and interviewed. Representatives from each of these groups were given the opportunity to express opinions, experiences and recommendations for improving Futureprofit delivery. Existing reports were examined which described problems of implementation and progress of Futureprofit and PMP outcomes. These reports include National evaluations, State Futureprofit reports, and district, project and Futureprofit group reports. Delivery intentions in relation to frequency, amount, and type of products and services, as well as effects and outcomes were explored.

The project was developed using strategic planning and action learning processes. Qualitative and quantitative data was collected via semi-structured interviews of Futureprofit deliverers, structured surveys of PMP coordinators, Futureprofit deliverers and past participants, and analysis of existing documents and evaluation reports relevant to Futureprofit program delivery.

A semi structured interview process was used at the Futureprofit State forum to determine whether key questions could be answered through survey methods and to test some probable boundaries to the research project. Boundaries included the willingness and availability of people involved with the delivery of Futureprofit to participate in the research project. Following the semi structured interview process a structured questionnaire of recent past participants of Futureprofit, stakeholders of the program, facilitators and coordinators was developed. Property Management Planning coordinators, Futureprofit deliverers and recent past participants each received a questionnaire designed specifically to suit their groups program experiences. From the existing evaluation material, the documented PMP delivery principles became the foundation of the research project questionnaires. Contact details of recent past participants were collected from deliverers throughout Queensland.

Property Management Planning Coordinators were invited to respond to the surveys, several states provided recent Property Management Planning evaluation and progress reports. A total of 140 recent participants and 112 deliverers of the Futureprofit workshop series throughout Queensland were invited to respond to the surveys.

Triangulation in this project added rigour, breadth and depth. Data obtained from each research method was compared and analysed. The breadth of population to obtain data from was greatened by using each of the three methods described above. The semi structured interview process sought data from deliverers already gathered at the Futureprofit state forum. It created an opportunity to seek qualitative data including deliverers' perspectives of the current delivery situation, current issues and suggestions for research and future delivery. The structured surveys accessed a large population and segregations within the population, it was very effective in gaining data from recent past participants of the program as well as a good representation of Futureprofit deliverers. This method was effective in gaining delivery specific details from PMP coordinators, a necessary addition to data provided in state PMP evaluation projects. Existing data was particularly useful for gaining a clear picture of current Futureprofit and PMP practices and outcomes, as well as future direction and recommendations. Each research method sought data from a slightly different angle from the other and therefore added depth to the research project.


Results were grouped into the most common responses and the most documented delivery themes, including:

  • Delivery intentions,
  • Funding and employment,
  • Needs based delivery and adult learning,
  • Alternative delivery styles,
  • Linkages between service providers, and
  • Skills transfer through delivery styles.

PMP coordinators, Futureprofit deliverers and participants stated the delivery style of Futureprofit as being based on participant needs. Content and presentation is negotiated with participants and uses a mix of presenters with the program made to be relevant and practical. PMP and Futureprofit delivery was described by Sustainable Land & Water Resources Management Committee in 1999 as 'needs based', driven by producers.

Past participants and deliverers believed the marketing of workshop series did not influence how the workshops were delivered. At the same time, Futureprofit deliverers stated more time with individuals was needed prior to group formation so participants needs could be best met. Delivery of pre course activities & delivery through links with participant stakeholders were prominent recommendations for future delivery of the program. Currently there is great emphasis on program deliverers better meeting customers needs, with particular focus on the market segments not previously involved in the program. Throughout the state, deliverers of Futureprofit are testing and applying needs analysis methods to assist in providing greater benefit to current and future customers. One method described has combined needs analysis with marketing techniques. This initiative has helped meet marketing requirements identified for future program success.

All existing reports on PMP and Futureprofit identified program flexibility, use of adult learning principles and regional delivery as prominent favoured features of delivery. The delivery of all Futureprofit workshops are based on adult learning principles, where providing a safe comfortable learning environment for participants is the primary aim. According to participants, this aim has successfully been achieved.

To benefit the programs ability to constantly meet customer needs Futureprofit has continually been monitored and evaluated. Flexibility has allowed for continual development with the regional base of deliverers enhancing the flexibility of the program.

Recommendations provided in existing reports and surveys, included suggestions about funding and employment related impacts on delivery of the program. They included training of program providers, employment terms and funding for the program enhanced through linkages.

Futureprofit deliverers provide many services in addition to the Integrated Workshop Series (IWS), including the provision of limited follow up service for groups of land managers. They do not provide follow up service to individual past or present participants outside a group environment.

Group delivery was seen as cost effective with group interactions one of the most valuable ways to learn, building confidence and information seeking skills. Adult learning techniques are seen as effective according to past participants and evaluation reports. PMP coordinators and Futureprofit deliverers place little emphasis on recognition through formal qualifications for participants.


PMP coordinators, Futureprofit deliverer's and participant's describe the delivery style of Futureprofit as being based on participant needs. Content and presentation is negotiated with participants and uses a mix of presenters to achieve this. The program is designed to be relevant and practical. Delivery styles that have achieved their aim have had comparably similar impacts.

The combination of relationship marketing and needs analysis will in the future greatly impact on delivery styles, as it has been seen as a very useful technique to access market segments not previously involved in Futureprofit and through the development of delivery styles tailored to better meet these customer needs.

Reports have shown that program deliverers have continually accessed relevant training. Program participants, deliverers and coordinators recognised that ongoing training and professionalism of deliverers are critical to Futureprofit success.

Participants and Futureprofit deliverer's rate content and process relevance highly as a critical success factor of the program. Relevance is enhanced by regionally based Futureprofit deliverers employed for an effective period.

The need for further linkages and collaboration are requirements for the future success of Futureprofit. Cooperation through linkages enhances the quality of Futureprofit as well as the quality of other extension activities. Inter organisational cooperation encourages delivery of industry relevant material, effective linkages are required to meet customer needs for follow up service, and provide opportunity for future funding of the program. Opportunities exist for delivery and follow up service by other providers such as TAFE, distant education units and via the Internet.

Continual monitoring, evaluation and the use of skilled people to deliver regionally based Futureprofit products and services through flexible group based activities in collaboration with other service providers will ensure the continued success of the Futureprofit delivery style.


  1. Atkins, D. (1999), The Style of Futureprofit, A paper to stimulate reflection, insights and discussion, version 5/10/1999, Futureprofit Intranet, Department of Primary Industries.
  2. Letts, M.A. (1996) A Theoretical Reflection of Property Management Planning in the Context of Contemporary Theories of Extension, unpub. November 1996, Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.
  3. Letts, M.A. (2000), New Division - Update. E mail correspondence, 18 October 2000, Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.
  4. Sustainable Land & Water Resources Management Committee (1999), A National Strategy for Facilitating Change Management for Family Farm Business. Occasional Paper. Natural Resource Management Policy Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia, Canberra. Commonwealth of Australia. Finsbury Press, Thebarton South Australia.

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