How the city known for its cheese is the perfect inspiration for a supermarket supply chain


A multinational retailer carriers thousands of useful, tasty, warm and cold, sweet and savory, affordable and quality products, but these things don’t carry themselves to the shelves. 

Behind the scenes is a complex network of professionals that see to it the shelves are stocked daily full of quality products. From the fields to the supermarket shelves and each transaction in between. These people are called the supply chain. From A to Z– from the strawberries by truck from Sint-Truiden to the Tarbot by train from Tirana. From maker to store. From the fields to the webshop.

The questions Beanmachine got from this company: How do we deal with the supply chain smarter? Both now and looking toward future. How do we think outside the box? How do we bring a fresh perspective and insight to the retailer’s already established values? Who can help us without bringing the typical cookie-cutter answers?

Beanmachine doesn’t know anything about the technical side of the supply chain. Nor where to source the best strawberries or codfish. But we do know how to enable people to look differently at their own material. In order to do this, we take people out of their comfort zone and let them handle their work more creatively with a new methodology. Often, habits in thinking cause us to miss opportunities for improvement. 

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We chose... to go ride bikes. Why? Because then you aren’t sitting behind your desk, and therefore can’t think like a desk-jockey. 

We devised The Bike Challenge. A trip through the alleys of Amsterdam, taking in what was around us. For example, what takeaways do you have from the local organic bakery that can be applied to the bakery section of the supermarket? Or what does branding mean to a design firm and how can that influence  your webshop? What can you learn from Amsterdam youth media mediums, if you want to start marketing to this crowd? All these questions relating to the supply chain were answered during our exercise.

For the grand finale we did an exercise with a real product and had to construct the entire supply chain from start to finish, using what we had learned on the bike trip. With little sprint-hints along the way, the puzzle pieces all fell into place.Why sprint? Because with the right tools you can gain a lot of ground in half a day. And after all, time is money. 

A super enriching two days in Amsterdam... and no joint needed!

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Our client was astonished by the result. Even those in the team who didn’t consider themselves creative had amazing ideas. Tangible, feasible ideas. For us Beans it was quite an enjoyable time. Talking, inspiring, being constructive, and sending people home happy. On top, Going on a bike ride for work? We've had worse. But by far the most rewarding part was seeing how people learned to tackle their problems independently.

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bean team

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