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Focus on: Soil, Agriculture, Food, Regeneration

Many of us are interested in the nexus of issues around soil fertility, regenerative agriculture, climate change, food security and so forth. My collection point is here.

In our Discourse forum, @Klaus posed a great question that takes a slice out of this issue, which I’ll paraphrase as “How might we drive the social changes needed so we revitalize our soil, as well as the systems it connects to?” (Klaus has a Facebook group around this topic that you can join, here.)

Klaus and I are fans of Otto Scharmer’s Theory U, so we will fold some of that process into the session.

Please join us at 8am Pacific this Friday (August 28), in this Zoom room.

Klaus asks: "How might we drive the social changes needed so we revitalize our soil, as well as the systems it connects to?”

Social change often means changes in activities performed. The system of activities to revitalize soil is a system much like many other social systems.

To change a complex system (I assume that the current soil revitalization system is a complex system involving numerous entities that often connection to other systems), we need to first understand the “as is”. From my experience leading systems thinking on organizational projects, understanding the “as is” is often a very big part of the effort to come up with the “to be” solution . That is because the “as is” is highly negotiated. It requires addressing the mass confusion that prevails about who is doing what and why.

please join us tomorrow morning, we can start with a brief ‘as is’ overview.

from our conversation this morning, I posted two files which are old and need to be reworked, but hopefully still make their point. The first one is a file that I iterated from a previous edition “Soft Franchise Concepts”.

When I retired in 2012 my idea was to work as a consultant, at 62 no appetite for another corporate job. I spent a lot of time on the internet before returning to the US from Germany at the end of that year, after 10 expat years in Hong Kong and Duesseldorf. Encoutered Ted talks and Coursera which just started up around that time, the start of an amazing journey.

Through all this there was this Innocentives competition sponsored by the AARP, ‘the elimination of food deserts’. I had no idea what is a food desert at the time, it intrigued me so I engaged and send in a proposal. In my last job as head of target group marketing corporate at Metro Cash&Carry, I had teams in 30 countries, over 700 locations, 6000 sales reps in the field at the time. The HoReCa portfolio some years back was Euro 13.5 billion.

As part of my job I would do country audits, intensely prepared by my team to meet with operations, procurement, critical wholesalers, logistics, senior level target group customers to do a 360. At the end of the week I would report out my learnings in a discussion focused on target group segment selection.

This next file is based on my general market assessment, compiling a story that explains the US food system at a macro level. It is a disaster that is causing tremendous harm, it has to transform itself before our ecosystem collapses. The slides are from several files, but hopefully they make the point of what in my mind is presencing.

@NeilD it would be awesome if you could take a look at this, how to translate into the next level thinking. Crystallizing. Thank you so much.

I agree. Maybe we should try to scope out what activities we will be looking at?

Following Theory U process logic, once we agree on a perspective of reality and have completed the phase ‘Presencing’, we pivot our focus from the past to the future. The next phase is then defined as ‘Crystallizing’, where we describe and consolidate our intentions.

We can all see plenty of possibilities, and we can see a target destination emerge. But we first have to align our resources, talent, energy, capabilities with these intentions. Moving from blue sky ideation to concept feasibility in project language, the essence of crystallizing. A long road ahead.