Rethinking supply chains with responsible software

Generated by DALL-E

Last week I was scrolling through the blue bird app and some words caught my attention.

“The fact that it costs more money to eat healthy is really frustrating”

Over the last few months, I have been thinking broadly around what it might mean to reimagine the supply chains that manage the world’s food supply. Thinking particularly about how a revitalised supply chain could unlock a new type of relationship with the end-consumer (you and I). Our global supply chains are incredibly interdependent and entangled, the interwoven nature is both a strength and a hinderance. The entanglement extends far deeper than many may think, and it is further entangled in economic political agreements that run global trade exchanges. It’s a highly complex system and unless a stepped change occurs, one that is driven by outside influence/incentive, I find it hard to see a refactoring of the system that will drive significant change in the way they are run.

With this challenge in mind, I started my thinking through trying to better understand the complexity of these systems. Instead of approaching the problem from the consumer’s end and asking why there aren’t more healthy alternatives easily available at my local retail outlet.

There are still many unanswered questions that I have as I continue to build out my context horizon. My approach started through analysing the ‘back end’, seeking to understand how we could re-architecture systems to create efficiencies and change incentives. To generate incentives for change, I think we need to look into the constraints of the supply landscape, as I believe there is significant demand for healthy options in the market but current business models mean that this demand is not being addressed. We also need to better understand the relationship a grocery retailer has with a consumer to create a new type of loyalty and deliver shared ownership of the lifetime value of consumers rather than just thinking about the value as a single transaction. It’s one thing to imagine an alternative solution, but to deliver a viable and lasting solution, it’s important to understand how things work and what are the unseen pieces that need thoughtful consideration.

I don’t have an answer or a product solution yet, but here are some emerging thoughts that I would like to add to the public discourse and dialogue that is searching for solutions.

Could we leverage a flywheel fuelled by consumer choice. How can the energy of consumer choice be used to drive change?

It’s fascinating to think about how many platforms have gravitated towards the marketplace play book. The value in a platform lies not necessarily in the interface it provides, but in the ability, it allows for connections to be created and monetised (the software). Connecting the supply to the demand. A cycle of convenience, one might say.

“Instacart is continuing to expand beyond grocery delivery ahead of an anticipated IPO with a new strategy to provide same-day delivery of large items straight to consumers’ doorsteps.”

This starts an interesting thought experiment around how a protocol, rather than a platform could allow for a greater speed of partnership integration and execution. We are entering an interesting phase of software thinking as we navigate digital worlds.

What might it look like if we work backwards from convenience, rather than towards what we think convenience could look like?

I strongly believe that it is possible to rethink and refactor the supply chains that run the global food ecosystem. An ambitious challenge, but one that I believe is achievable if we understand how everything is pieced together and design different software to deliver convenience to all stakeholders. Which in turn unlocks radically new business models.

To end, you will notice that I have opted to use the word “responsible” rather than “sustainable.” Part of the reason for this is that I believe that society has chosen the wrong adjective to describe the solutions that we are seeking to create to address climate change. Creating sustainable solutions, means that they are designed to “be maintained at a certain rate or level”. Instead of aiming for a level of maintenance, which is near impossible, we should strive towards creating solutions that are responsible.

The other reason for choosing the word responsible is that it places ownership with all the stakeholders of the solution. Everyone has role to play in creating a shift towards a future that delivers value to generations beyond our time.

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A deep thinker, synthesiser & learner. Interested in tech, data, & ownership. Enabling reverse mentorship. Exploring DAOs with Crypto, Culture & Society

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Josh Nuttall

A deep thinker, synthesiser & learner. Interested in tech, data, & ownership. Enabling reverse mentorship. Exploring DAOs with Crypto, Culture & Society