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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Is this the incentive we needed to drive innovation and change?

I’ve been wondering recently whether we will look back at 2020 and say that was the beginning of a profound period of change and innovation. That might sound strange when we are in the middle of a situation we seem to be struggling to manage right now. However, you can’t help thinking that all the collective conversations we’ve all been having and surveying the problems people will come up with ideas and solutions. After all, future prosperity (in every sense) stems from a creative mindset.

Think about it; we have already embraced digital like never before. We are witnessing a revolution in the way we work, how automation and robotics are shaping agriculture etc. Certainly, this pandemic has opened everyone’s eyes to the major injustices that are happening globally. If this isn’t an incentive to drive innovation and change then we must be sleepwalking.

If you look back to the twentieth century and evaluate the quantity and quality of innovation that emerged from the major conflicts you’d be impressed. It was a profoundly testing time and yes, many of the innovations were thoroughly based on military needs but change did happen. This is because our minds are focused on specific issues and a common enemy that demands a solution. I know it is too easy to use a war metaphor’ and let’s face it this has been overused but this fight is also about an enemy that could transform the way we live forever. After all post war brought us the NHS and that was surely born from a desire to do better.

Yet, think about a time in all of our lives when panic made us stronger, more productive, more innovative or just different. There is a sweet spot where something akin to magic happens. Our senses are fired up enough to be scrolling through possibilities and slightly stressed about what might happen. We cannot afford to be overwhelmed.

Perhaps we solve the profound housing crisis through reappropriating offices for homes. Maybe we do solve the economic failure of workers remaining at home by making those city centres alive with a new type of clientele. Maybe it is time to do things differently and just get on with it.

The government has published the first part of its food initiative earlier this year but is it enough? Can we have real focus and clarity about how we make ourselves less reliant on imports. If it is too difficult to manage the complex food customs arrangements can we produce more at home. Yes, we are going to struggle to grow bananas but surely this is the time to really push the envelope and thing at both a macro and micro level. If not now, then when?

With technological and organisational advances like we have never seen before we can increase production. This is not a new phenomenon. It happened in America during the 1940s, 1941 to be precise. In this year the U.S increased its economic output by 40% compared to 12 years previously. It was achieved to changes in the way businesses were organised and also the technology they used. Surely, we can do this in the UK too.

Now is the time to abandon legacy practices and reappraise how we grow and produce food. We need to consider how to add value. Yes, we will lose jobs in industries that need to restructure themselves for the ‘new normal’ but isn’t this the time where technology, innovation and problem solving is going to offer us solutions to problems we have hardly begun to even consider. We need to stop thinking of farm workers as unskilled. They are at the cusp of major change and with Covid and Brexit that change is being accelerated. In fact, there has been a 40% increase in funding for start-ups in agritech. But will farmers start buying? What will the development of robotics mean for rural communities? Will it be a positive change? These are exciting times.

Robotic milking systems, picking fruit and zapping weeds automatically were once the stuff of science fiction. However, these developments are already here. Dr Belinda Clarke from agritech e that brings together farmers and technologists says:

We’ve been on a trajectory for quite a while with regards the robotics and automation agenda. Brexit was an accelerant and the Covid recovery plans will accelerate further especially as we have had such a massive shake up of the whole jobs generally. However, I think farmers who are forward thinking and beginning to tool themselves up even if it is only at a mindset level regarding how they can be ready for the automation revolution will help them to be ready to run with the changes we are already seeing.

Therefore, what we really do need is the next cohort of entrepreneurs and employees, business owners and consumers, farmers and technologists to be agile, collaborative and flexible. We have been through the mill this year but now is the time to clear the board and start looking at how we can do things differently. In my niche organisations have already embraced virtual interviews and onboarding. Who could have predicted that twelve months ago?

Curiosity, problem solving, creativity and a willingness to change are key qualities for anyone thinking about pursuing a career in the food and drink industries. We have no idea what might hit us next, all we do know is that it’s likely to be something. Therefore, I believe that recruiting the right kind of mind to manage these upheavals and challenges is a key consideration right now. It takes time to find the right people to fill a position and I am already saying that should you want to start 2021 with new appointments the time to start the process is right now. We all know that creativity and discovery really surge when someone needs to find a discovery. Yes, it is a case of when the going gets tough etc. but it’s also when people collaborate and work towards a common purpose.

If you need help finding the right people to help you propel your business forward, then do give me a call. I have also written a book about remote onboarding. If you think that might help you make changes then let me know and I will send you a copy for free.


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