Systems thinking

Be transparent and work together

introduction

Did you know?
Belgians and Dutch are not willing to work for 1 euro a day. Yet this is the minimum wage in Bangladesh.

It’s only common sense that one party (be it an NGO, a designer, retailer, producer or even a consumer) can’t possibly make a change that affects an entire system. This chicken and egg issue comes up in every conversation with people from the fashion industry. The only possible conclusion is that no one has the right to be a follower, nor the explicit duty to be the first mover. We’ll have to work this out together, preferably simultaneously and while keeping the conversation going.
 

SO, WHAT CAN I DO?

All of this may perhaps seem self-evident, but in reality it’s not. The fashion sector is not (yet) used to collaborating, though things are starting to change. At the same time, there is a growing awareness of these matters among customers and in society in general.

Awareness and the will to change are key. Yet what about other prerequisites for turning the entire supply chain around? How can you prepare for this as an entrepreneur?

It’s crucial to know everyone that’s involved in your story. Producers, manufacturers, designers, retailers, recyclers, but also the government, investors, clients, researchers … they all have their effect on your final product, no matter how small. When you take a good look, you’ll start seeing connections you previously missed, which facilitates changes in terms of impact, interdependencies and so forth. Stay in touch with trends in the industry and find out how they will affect your business. It’s not hard to see why transparency and an open communication will help you gain insight and make changes.

In a chain system we’re quick to point the finger at the other and accuse them of slowing down change. Talking to each other and finding out there’s a structural problem often helps, as does collaborating. For a collaboration to succeed, members have to be on the same page and have to be able to trust each other completely.

The circular economy is all about producing differently and producing for a better future, keeping materials and resources in the loop as long as possible and giving them more than one life. All of this has to be done without causing any harm to the environment -- or to be more precise: it has to have a positive effect on the environment. This kind of circular thinking can’t do without corporate social responsibility.

To conclude, the supply chain obviously consists of numerous players that have to be connected to each other. You can also make a difference by looking into the way these connections are organized (like logistics, transportation and other practical matters you just can’t ignore in the fashion business).

strategies for Systems thinking

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