How to support the Quality System with the Game Theory

By | Agrofood, Agronomy, Business, Food for thought, Gaming | No Comments

T he picture  is showing the Prisoner’s dilemma in a Matrix. This is used to understand clearly the possible choices when a company has to make an important decision: a strategic decision.

Imagine two prisoners held in separate cells, interrogated simultaneously, and offered deals (lighter jail sentences) for betraying their fellow criminal. They can “cooperate” (with the other prisoner) by not snitching, or “defect” by betraying the other. However, there is a catch; if both players defect, then they both serve a longer sentence than if neither said anything. Lower jail sentences are interpreted as higher payoffs (shown in the table).

The prisoner’s dilemma has a similar matrix as depicted for the coordination game, but the maximum reward for each player (in this case, 3) is obtained only when the players’ decisions are different. Each player improves their own situation by switching from “cooperating” to “defecting”, given knowledge that the other player’s best decision is to “defect”. The prisoner’s dilemma thus has a single Nash equilibrium: both players choosing to defect.

What has long made this an interesting case to study is the fact that this scenario is globally inferior to “both cooperating”. That is, both players would be better off if they both chose to “cooperate” instead of both choosing to defect. However, each player could improve their own situation by breaking the mutual cooperation, no matter how the other player possibly (or certainly) changes their decision.

Nash equilibrium has been demonstrated by J. Nash in a real situation.

In game theory, the Nash equilibrium is a solution concept of a non-cooperative game involving two or more players in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his own strategy.

In Europe I do not know anybody else, except Casaqa, who is trying to integrate quality management and business management systems. I’ve formed a very definite opinion about this and why the quality management system is believed to be so distance to the business management. I would like to share it.

1) The food company are particularly narrow-minded about the different processes, and  I think we’ll just have not to compartmentalize everything.

2) The people don’t know the applications of the Game Theory.

3) They also think that management systems must necessarily derive from an external scheme, often imposed by supermarkets, and that nothing can be proposed from within the same companies as in the automotive business happens.

Game theory is a major method used in mathematical economics and business for modeling competing behaviors of interacting agents. Applications include a wide array of economic phenomena and approaches, such as auctions, bargaining, mergers & acquisitions pricing,fair division, duopolies, oligopolies, social network formation, agent-based computational economics, general equilibrium, mechanism design, and voting systems; and across such broad areas as experimental economics, behavioral economics, information economics, industrial organization, and political economy.

I believe that game theory should be use in the Quality Management System too.

Business is a high-stakes game.The way we approach this game is reflected in the language we use to describe it. Business language is full of expressions borrowed from the military and fro sports. Some of them are dangerously misleading. Unlike war and sports, business is not about winning and losing. Nor is it about how well you play the game. Companies can succeed spectacularly without requiring others to fail. And they can fail miserably no matter how well they play if they make the mistake of playing the wrong game.

The essence of business success lies in making sure you’re playing the right game. How do you know if it is the right game? What can you do about it is the wrong game?

In order to help managers answer those questions, I am using a framework (developed by Adam Brandeburg, Barry J. Nalebuff, but updated through Alexander Ostoerwalder) that draws on the insights of the game theory. Basically game theory is about to change the game of business, updating your model business. The point is to use this method into your quality system. The decision taking process is a process like the “maintenance” or the “production”.

The game of business is all about value: creating it and capturing it. Who are the participants in the enterprise? To describe them some Author introduce the Value Net – a schematic map designed to represent all the players in the game and the interdependencies among them.

The Value Net reveals two fundamental symmetries in the game of the business:

a) the first between customers and suppliers

b) the second between substituotors and complementors.

Managers understand intuitively the along the vertical dimension of the Value Net, there is a mixture of cooperation and competition.

This method is very interesting to manage the “process decision ” and to give a tool to analyze the reality as a game. This means to help the managers and to give a contribution to achieve a Quality Management System that can include the ” business model management” .

This is how the growers should ensure the irrigation water quality.

By | Agrofood, Food Safety | No Comments
This is how the growers should ensure the irrigation water quality, especially in leafy vegetables production

There are a lot of problems in the leafy vegetables production associated with irrigation water, including microbial risk and difficulties in water monitoring, compliance with evolving regulations and quality standards.

The fact is that the transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to salad plants through spray and surface irrigation was demonstrated. [ETHAN B. SOLOMON, CATHERINE J. POTENSKI, and KARL R. MATTHEWS – Department of Food Science, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520, USA]

More generally, there is increasing evidence of the contribution of irrigation water in the contamination of produce leading to subsequent outbreaks of food borne illness. The risk is higher for leafy vegetables that will be eaten raw without cooking.

Supermarkets and Food Companies are targeting zero-risk production systems and the associated requirements for irrigation water quality have become more stringent in regulations and quality assurance schemes (QAS) followed by growers. For example, the scheme Field to Fork by Marks&Spencer, the McDonalds Standard and others, they pay a lot of attention about the acceptable limit of E.coli, requiring a monthly testing.

Usually the food safety standards require a safe water source and a sampling protocol to make sure the consistency of the E.coli results.

Why we test E.coli ?

In the baby leaf production, growers should identify water sources that are contaminated with potential pathogens through a monitoring regime and only use water free of pathogens, but the low prevalence of pathogens makes the use of faecal indicators, particularly E. coli, a more practical approach. Initially E.coli was just an indicator of Salmonella ssp.

The irrigation method could be crucial for the leafy vegetables food safety

Where growers have to use water sources of moderate quality, they can reduce the risk of contamination of the edible portion of the crop (i.e., the leaves) by treating irrigation water before use through physical or chemical disinfection systems, or avoid contact between the leaves and irrigation water through the use of drip or furrow irrigation, or the use of hydroponic growing systems.

The current alternatives available for growers to reduce microbial risks is certainly not to continue in the same way. Agronomic techniques can help the growers to eliminate the microbial risk of pathogens.

Anyway the growers use a variety of water sources for field operations and irrigation and much knowledge is needed to relate risk factors associated with the transfer coefficients for pathogens by source, concentration and use.

Probably the combination of these different factors: Agronomic techniques and Quantitative water risk assessment, can increase a lot the food safety of baby leaf production.

R ick Twice is the photographer behind many CASAQA’s photos.

A Special thanks to the photographer for making photos like these.

Words are powerless to express my gratitude!

Rick Twice

The Secret of Quality. Something to learn from a small company.

By | Agrofood | No Comments

D a ragazzo ho lavorato in campagna con mio fratello e mio padre. Conosco quindi la fatica di chi lavora in piccole realtà dell’agroalimentare, ma ne conosco anche i piccoli piaceri. Uno di questi è sempre stato fare una chiacchierata con Daniele Carbini. Spesso con argomenti impegnativi. Lui, dopo una decina d’anni di brillante lavoro nel settore dell’informativa, laureato in filosofia, è tornato a casa, a Tempio Pausania (Sardegna) per impegnarsi nelle attività del Molino di famiglia.Ci univa la passione per il filosofo Nietzsche e tanti sacchi di crusca e farinetta da caricare.

Purtroppo, a causa del mio lavoro, non passo molto tempo in Sardegna, ma ho avuto l’occasione di osservare il contributo organizzativo e strutturale (non l’unico) dato da Daniele al Molino dove lavora.

Lo porto ad esempio, e condivido con il lettore questo ragionamento, perché penso che qualsiasi Manager, Imprenditore o chi ha a che fare con l’agroalimentare, può trarne vantaggio.

Il Molino Carbini non è certificato: non aderisce a nessun standard in particolare. Il suo Mercato non glielo richiede. Tuttavia ha creato un proprio sistema qualità, non partendo dall’adesione ad una serie di requisiti e richieste, ma dalla vera base fondamentale di un sistema qualità moderno ed efficiente: il modello di business e la proposta di valore.

In questo modo il Molino Carbini, non solo propone qualcosa di nuovo e ben definito: semolati di grano duro provenienti solo ed esclusivamente da frumento sardo; ma vista la natura “di alta qualità”, sta trainando il comparto verso nuovi livelli di efficenza e qualità. Quella vera. Ripudiando l’assurdo concetto che prodotto tradizionale equivalga a prodotto di Qualità, si impegna, in relazione alla relativa forza economica, a fare innovazione, ricerca, irrobustire la filiera e creare delle ottime farine che rendano degli ottimi prodotti da forno. Ma non tanto per dire o per fare quello che maldestramente viene definito “marketing”. Si impegna a creare un mercato per sé, per i propri clienti e fornitori. Fare Marketing con la Qualità e di qualità, nella sua accezione genuina ed originale, significa creare Mercato: per il tuo cliente, per il tuo fornitore e di conseguenza per te.

Il Sistema di Qualità del Molino Carbini ci insegna che il fine di un SQ non è la Check-List della norma a cui aderire. Ci dimostra che il faro guida deve essere il tuo Modello di Business e ciò che vuoi proporre al tuo Mercato. Ci insegna che tenendo sotto controllo i corretti parametri, misurati oggettivamente, la crescita della Qualità del processo e prodotto è garantita.

Il Modello di Business di tipo B2B e B2C del Molino Carbini ci insegna che se non cerchi di rafforzare la tua filiera, di creare mercato anche per il tuo cliente e per il tuo fornitore, prima o poi corroderai la ricchezza di quel mercato. Se crei ricchezza per il tuo cliente, lui non ti abbandonerà mai.

La Proposta di Valore del Molino Carbini (solo prodotto sardo..di eccellenza) ci insegna che diversificare e distinguersi è il primo passo e che fare della comunicazione ingannevole non paga nel lungo periodo e che dietro alla comunicazione deve esserci serietà, innovazione e cultura. Promettere ciò che puoi mantenere vale soprattutto nel mondo degli affari.

Come hanno fatto tutto questo? Nell’intervista ce lo spiega proprio Daniele Carbini: il “Filosofo Mugnaio”, come è stato definito dallo scrittore Francesco Abate. Io la chiamo Qualità Strategica