Breaking Boundaries to Avoid a Food System Crisis - Part 3

By Guest Author on 14 July 2020

Food Systems Thinking to Achieve Better Outcomes

By embracing andunderstanding the VUCAnature of the food system,future leaders will be ableto leverage capacity andbuild deeperunderstandings of allcomponents of the foodsystem. A VUCA mindsetcombined with a foodsystems-thinking approachpromotes a more holistic path to solve problems and provides future leaders with:

  • Tools to think more broadly and become more effective problem solvers within their organization or across disciplines;
  • The opportunity to break boundaries to positively influence how decisions, policies, and unforeseen circumstances ripple across the system to create success to avert the looming food crisis; and
  • Broader knowledge and understanding of interdependencies across the food system—from the privateto public sectors, from farm to fork.

Combining VUCA with systems thinking will better equip the food industry to both meet immediate challenges and create solutions that will avert a food system crisis and achieve a sustainable food-secure future. This change in perspective will require future leaders in the food system to think broadly, keep an open mind, connect and explore newideas, and challenge existing paradigms. It will allow food security to be achieved while continuing to offer food that is grown locally or overseas, regenerative or conventional, animal or plant based. The combination of approaches means future food system leaders must learn and leverage skills to encourage cooperative and proactive dialogue and collaboration across the food system from farmers and scientists to manufacturing experts and logisticians to sales and marketing executives.

In addition, future food system leaders must also be able to critically evaluate potential solutions to identify unexpected consequences (see “What to Do with 700 Pounds of Turnips?”). To make the challenge even harder, future leaders will need to communicate in a way that builds confidence within a cultural environment where food innovation is feared. In “Why We Fear the Food We Eat,”[9]Jack Bobo explains that food in the U.S. has never been safer, yet consumers are more afraid of their food than ever.The food industry must identify and develop leaders who have potential and desire to communicate with experts outside their field, understand inter-relationships driving important decisions, and create shared values across groupsthat may not agree with one another. Moreover, food system leaders must understand and navigate the combination of innovation, communication, media presence, and filter bubbles that are present in the food system. On-the-job learning is possible and essential, but it will not occur fast enough to avert the looming food crisis. The VUCA nature and speed of change in today’s food system means that traditional approaches to learning will not be enough.

Look out for Part 4...

This article was republished with the permission of Food Safety Magazine and the original article can be viewed here: 

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