Q2: Strategy, to scale

How do we strategize & take lean to scale in one of the biggest, most vital, desperately challenged systems the world has ever known?

“The first step is admitting we have more than one problem.”

~ Jonathan Foley, Environment 360

With a crisis-laden, global food system facing the need of doubling to tripling production in our lifetime, time is of the essence for systems thinking to be applied to this problem, skillfully and immediately. Jonathan Foley is one force for change in the pursuit of doing so I had the honor to hear guest lecture at the University of Washington this week. The challenge he posed: The Other Inconvenient Truth.

Weaved into his narrative were elements of each of BMG‘s environmental drivers –  key trends, market forces, macro-economic forces & industry forces. He paints a compelling picture of a broken system, convincing yet hopeful, in also presenting steps to take towards solutions:

Five calls for global action:

  • Slow agricultural expansion in fragile, inefficient, unsustainable ecosystems
  • Improve yields and close regional yield gaps
  • Improve agricultural efficiency while managing inputs & outputs

  • Close diet gaps: meat and dairy as supplements not dietary spotlights
  • Reduce food waste – 30%+ of all food is lost due to spoilage during production, transport or storage

The task is daunting but the consequences are crucial.

(J. Foley, Nature)

“A magnificent future is up to us” were among his summary remarks, in leaving us with these words:

“Here’s what I’ve decided: the very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallways and touching the walls on both sides. I can’t tell you how good it feels.”

~ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

What can you do today?

CollaborateEat mindfully & cultivate awareness (Burke Museum, Hungry Planet):

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4 responses

  1. This is a daunting task, indeed. I surely hope that the population (who has enough to eat on a daily basis) realizes this crisis before it’s too late. I wonder what it will take for people to realize that their food and water isn’t going to be here forever if we continue to mistreat it at the current rate. And how do we get all the farmers around the world to understand that they need to make critical changes in their production practices?

  2. Amanda,

    I’m so glad you had a chance to go to the UW event. I was supposed to go but missed out.

    I am continually impressed with your video and image choices in your blog posts: very effective and professional-looking. Kudos.

    Barbara Kingsolver is an excellent author with very salient and wise words. Good choice.

    Multiple friends are planning their gardens or looking for guerilla gardening opportunities. So far, I have been admiring their efforts from afar due to time and energy constraints. I do have a dream of growing at least some edible ingredients on my land, though.

    What is your answer to your own question: what can you do today?

    -S

  3. Your posts are tight! Clean design, thoughtfully crafted, strong thread.. oh, and interactive! Thank you for providing the larger perspective each week. It helps me step back and re-consider my own insights and tie the details of what we’re learning to the bigger picture. How do you see yourself fitting into the solutions? What creates the spark for you? What gives you pause and makes you laugh out loud in delight?

    I’ll carry that lovely BK quote with me this week.. “live inside that hope.. under it’s roof.”

  4. i echo meg’s comments on the format!!!

    Reduce food waste – 30%+ of all food is lost due to spoilage during production, transport or storage

    wow. i just commented on your other blog asking how big could the problem really be? any other insights of how this problem can be addressed? by any chance, was this a possible topic for your project team? seems like system thinking, LEAN, and design thinking can get a workout with this challenge.

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