In the situation where capital investment in machines and technology becomes a more level playing field for companies, the edge that companies can get from replacing humans with machines becomes smaller. But it takes market leadership to decide that the new basis of competition is probably not about having more automation than the competition but to be able to attract and motivate the best frontline workers serving the customers and making their day.
Market leadership is not about following what the rest of the industry is doing but deciding what is the next basis of competition and focusing on those parameters. Scale helps but more critical is the courage and strategic thinking of those in charge.
I have written about green ammonia and hydrogen before. And I might keep talking about them because they are important candidates as energy vectors in a decarbonised world. They are quite likely what is considered as the end points of the transition for the world towards zero carbon or low carbon. What does it mean to transit to green ammonia or green hydrogen? What needs to take place, and who will move first? What should the players be looking out for in order to make the switch?
We need to start defining intermediate steps for the switch. There is actually very little doubts about the inevitability of the switch. Yes there are concerns that it might be energy intensive, the costs are high, and the market is not formed yet. But realistically, most new things are like that. When the Apollo mission took up 60% of the computing power of United States in order to perform its calculations for the project, there wasn’t anyone saying the industry is not formed yet we should wait for better computers before we send man to the moon. We just viewed the mission as a series of problems to be solved, within the budget constraint.
The transition needs a budget; it can be a small one or it can be a large one. The issue is that the businesses needs to take a stance and say that climate change and the transition is a mission I want to be on, and to explore the series of problems to be solved in order to complete the mission. And we don’t wait for costs to come down before we make the transition, we take active steps towards it. That is also what leadership is about. That is really the only issue people should be considering.
So for example, if you’re providing equipment for natural gas systems – be it power generation, cogeneration, for steam methane reforming, etc. You need to start thinking about the smaller pieces of things: are your valves able to handle hydrogen? Do the membranes in your cryogenic tanks work if it was to be filled with hydrogen? What about your manpower, are they able to be trained in the safe handling of the gas? All these to prepare for the transition. You won’t be able to make the transition overnight or achieve it through a single project. It takes much smaller steps.
ERPZ explores quite a lot of stuff; from matters about studying smart to the huge issues surrounding economics and the environment. This are the efforts to cover what students need to learn about and know (true to our objective of ‘Educating students about being students’), but we seem to have missed out something really important in today’s world and that’s “Leadership”.
I started out reading a recent issue of Fortune Magazine, which featured an article on How to build great leaders, uncovering the different MNCs methods of identifying and grooming leaders for their organzation. A second article on leadership discusses the leadership during a crisis or recession. Talent on Tap, an article from The Economist talks about the increasing trend of getting temporary big bosses to sit in the autonomous firms and thus helping to tide the firm over a crisis or avert one.
Finally, an article from Knowledge @ SMU discusses the implication for leadership in individuals with different degree of self-monitoring. They suggested how high self-monitor individuals stand out as informal leaders although the low self-monitors are the ones who ends up in position of authority. I like to think that high self-monitors are suitable for ad-hoc leadership roles or to lead during special circumstances, perhaps why firms need temp bosses. In long run, during ordinary day to day management and leadership, the consistency of low self-monitors probably stand out and will become more important. If you’re interested to find out whether you score high on the self-monitoring scale, you can check out this test.
I almost totally forgot about the package this week! For a start, check out how exactly you should be reading stuff at all in order to be studying effectively. The articles that are linked there serves as good reads for your weekend although they’re all from The Economist. Itay Talgam presented a great talk about leadership of conductors at TED.com.
In addition, I wrote something about choosing stuff to read again. Yea, that’s all for this week. I’m pretty busy you see. Have a great weekend.
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