Shannon's Nuffield Scholarship Report - Innovation in the Primary Sector



Finite to Infinite Mindset

The ability to look past the next quarter and focus on the long-term good. True entrepreneurs look at the game differently - they are driven by their values and a belief in their product.


Production-Based to Consumer Led

The importance of a deep understanding of our consumer and the creation of products that match their needs and trends.

Do as the consumer pays, not as they say.


Optimisation to Transformation

Moving from great management (focussed on fixing problems) to great leadership (defining new problems). “Great Management is optimising the model — Great Leadership is creating a new model” James Parsons, sheep & beef industry leader.


Production Focus to Consumer Focus

There is power in companies and people who have insight and control through the value chain - from production to consumption. They don’t wave goodbye to the product once produced, as so many of the status quo do.

Rural Accountants director, Shannon Harnett, and co-writer, Ben Mclauchlan, delivered this report on Innovation in the Primary Sector for their NZ Nuffield Farming Scholarship. Shannon and Ben identified four innovation mindset personas – defined by risk appetite and the ability to pivot towards opportunities presented in our changing world.

Through our journey and conversations, we found both innovation and adaptability so closely aligned we have combined both concepts under innovation. Innovation is not just the invention of the new ‘thing’ or process, but also new approaches to business models, supply chains or markets. It can be the new ‘thing’, and new ways of ‘doing things’.

As we gathered insights, the recurring theme was change. Namely, the impact of weather events and changing climates, the essential nature of water and the growing consumer voice around sustainability. As our food producers face these challenges, we identified 4 flips that help embrace the uncertainty, and set the stage for innovation and adaptability.


Innovation Persona Matrix

We have identified four innovation mindset personas – defined by risk appetite and the ability to pivot towards opportunities presented in our changing world:


How do we help move food and fibre producers through the Innovation Matrix?

There are risks to innovation. New knowledge and capital are required to change. From whom capital is sourced can have an impact on the return horizon - short-term (e.g. private equity) or long-term (e.g. iwi). There are risks from new competition and yet to be proven value chains. Potentially, the biggest barrier to innovation is personal - the impact on lifestyle and family.

Conversely, sticking with the status quo often feels safe… for a time.

There is always a balance to be struck between exploiting the gains of the past and exploring the potential future. That said, the drivers of climate change, consumer preference and access to capital are changing our game, with or without us. In an era of rapid change, innovation and adaptability is a ‘must have’ mindset for all of us.


New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholars | Primary Sector Insights Report 2021.


What Our Customers Think

Great local Accountants. They provide an excellent service with great explanations for the layman. They provide accounting services for non rural clients too.

Quinn Wilson, Restaurant Owner, The Wagon
What Our Customers Think

Rural Accountants is a real asset to our business.

The team at Rural Accountants pretty much manage all our administrative tasks for the group including payroll and tax planning, ensuring we don’t pay any more than necessary. They are at the forefront of technology and have helped us get up and running with Xero and Figured which is much more efficient than the way we used to work.

Sam Jones, Managing Director, Sybton Farm Ltd Partnership
What Our Customers Think

Christine is very knowledgeable, great to deal with and knows our business well. She is also a sheep & beef farmer so knows the industry really well and understands our needs.

Rural Accountants keeps us on track through strategic and forward planning meetings throughout the year. Christine knows our business inside out so she can deal with our questions instantly.

Mathew & Gemma Barham, Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year 2012
What Our Customers Think

What Our Customers Think

I used to work out my GST and process it manually which would take me at least a full day every two months. The team set up reconcilliation rules and other quick tools, and showed me how to do all my reconcilliations and process my GST returns through Xero which now takes me no time at all!

Mike O'Neill, Financial Services Northland Ltd
What Our Customers Think

As a farmer, Christine understands our business and how farmers and growers operate.

We use Rural Accountants to provide a full accounting service to an orcharding partnership which operates a number of orchards with a wide spread of varieties and management systems. Rural Accountants are always timely and accurate, and their annual financial accounts are extremely easy to understand and very grower-friendly.

Paul Jones, Orchardist