Diffusion of Innovation: Boiling Water in the Andes

Posted by Ted Andrew, Senior Director, Product Marketing on Apr 14, 2016 10:05:56 AM

Boiling_water_over_fire.jpgOne of my guilty pleasures during my long commute is listening to a variety of podcasts. During a recent episode, Author Richard Nesbitt was relating a story of a health worker in the Andes jungle who was trying to convince a rural tribe to boil water prior to drinking and washing food. This anecdote seemed to serve as both a literal and figurative example of todays Food safety culture.

In summary, the story details how the health worker spent weeks trying to convince the isolated tribe of “invisible beings that live in the water, that can make them sick, and that magically vanish when heated.” Despite data, pictures, examples, and an emotional plea, her attempts to convince the village that boiling the water was of value enough to effect change and improve the overall health of the village fell on deaf ears.

Does this sound similar to the food safety culture in your organization? New technology and solutions now offer never before seen resolution and the ability to find Listeria in an environment that simply wasn't available prior. This technology can be used to develop better preventative control and mitigation strategies to reduce the risk that is potentially hiding in the manufacturing environment. Enabling elevation of a food safety program rather than maintaining status quo like the rural tribe. Diffusion of Innovation in this industry can be challenging for a number of reasons. However, the “seeing is believing” strategy, which has held back innovation throughout history, is an easy argument to make for those adverse to change, even in the light of compelling data.

There are ways to test better

Fortunately for our health worker, she returned to the village with a different approach. Instead of trying to convince the whole village all at once, she focused her efforts on those who were considered leaders of the tribe and convinced 4 of them to begin to boil water. Quickly, the rest of the village followed suit.

Fortunately for our industry, we have a growing group of innovative adopters who have applied new technology to elevate their preventative control programs, find the positives, and take corrective action. As a result, they are steering the industries Food Safety Culture into a better future.

A recent webinar addressed these practical solutions available for free on demand.


To learn more about this topic, sign up for our free On Demand webcast:

Culture Shift: The New Dynamics of Listeria Environmental Control and Testing

Cost: Free

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