By Brynn Winegard
In 2014 Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) undertook several case studies of Canadian food/beverage processing companies in the context of what drives their success and competitiveness. The case studies and analysis were part of a CAPI ‘Factors of Success’ research program. Through the lens of several processing firms and our (SEEC’s) analysis, some core findings in this research are relevant to the key theme being explored by The Forum on Canada’s Agri-Food Future which is how “trust” is a driver of performance and competitiveness.
As an example of particular interest for the CAFF2015 platform was a case study conducted in the Factors of Success research program with InfraReady Products: CEO Mark Pickard was primarily concerned with how to ‘feed the world responsibly’ given existing and projected food shortages Globally, using infrared technology that increased food stability, yield, availability, safety, shelf-life, and allowed for easier prep times.
The case studies revealed that CEOs can add value by how they seriously devote themselves to differentiate their offerings in the marketplace.
(Please see overarching cross-case analysis on CAPI’s website)
These CEOs/companies are linking marketplace advantage to how sustainable ingredients are sourced, how companies are improving health outcomes or ensuring reliable supply. Each of these cases bring to light an aspect of trust that we need to better understand to improve competitiveness.
Based on this research a First-of-its-kind “Agrifood Business Centre of Excellence” was opened at SEEC. SEEC’s AFB Four-module program was developed based on the key learnings of the final Factors of Success cross-case analysis, informing what it will take for AFB organizations in Canada to reach their height of potential and competitiveness:
- Clarity of Leader’s Core Purpose,
- Layers of Uniqueness and Continual Differentiation,
- Quality of Organizational Relationships, and
- Recognition & Capitalization on Enabling External/Macro Conditions.
Running for the inaugural time in 2016, the program includes significant consideration regarding all factors of success for AFB organization from farm-gate to fork, namely, how to bolster consumer trust and confidence in AFB organizations, their products, relationships, vision, leadership, and innovations toward greater success and profitability.
Pickard’s main leadership vision fuels both his organization and the following questions, addressed at CAFF2015:
- What are we doing as a collective, industry, category, discipline, and nation to further the availability of a trusted Global food supply as well as the operational excellence and transparency of the organizations that supply it?
- How can Canadian AFBs work together to become the most trusted food system in the world?
As a collective we certainly have the people, prowess, expertise, comparative advantages, organizations, incubators, natural capital, nutrient quality, and will to meet this mandate, but we must put together a strategic, consistent, coherent plan to accomplish it purposefully and visibly, on a Global scale.