Human beings don’t like change, and they don’t like argument. They prefer to assume, whenever possible, that life will continue in a straight line. This preference is especially common in large companies. Change for them means having to develop new products and services, enter risky new markets, and have potentially awkward conversations with investors. But […]
Tag Archives | innovation
Innovation is the life-blood of the chemical industry. It is also a critical success factor as we transition to the New Normal. Many of today’s plants and processes are simply too old and too inefficient to remain competitive in a world of slow and volatile economic growth. Yet making the case for investment in new […]
The global economy is moving into a difficult period, as it transitions to the New Normal. Debt levels are high, and incomes are under pressure, particularly for the large numbers of people moving into retirement. Cost must be the key criteria when examining the opportunities for new product development and research. Chapter 8 of our […]
As the chart shows, December’s US auto sales (orange line) were the highest monthly level since August 2009′s ‘cash for clunkers’. But it was only achieved via a massive 7% jump in purchase incentives, which were back at Q2 2009 levels of $2700/vehicle. And 2010 was still the second worst year for sales since 1982, […]
The blog was recently interviewed by ICIS’ Anna Jagger at Vienna Airport, on its way back from the World Refining Conference. The conversation covered the need for companies to focus on innovation, as well as on survival, during the downturn. It also highlighted specific examples of opportunities that could be pursued today, within the context […]
In difficult times, the industry looks to the major companies for their advice. And they certainly provided this at our 8th European Conference (co-organised with ICIS), Shell’s Jonathan Forbes-Lane, European GM, focused on the “gale-force recession” now underway. He expected “prices to stay volatile and unpredictable because they were being pulled in opposing directions by […]
As the downturn began In July 2007, leading retailers Tesco and Wal-Mart “signalled a major shift in consumer priorities“. And Tesco added a warning that “If you don’t have the basic things right, you will be talking at the edge rather than at the centre“. 2 years later Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s […]
It is now generally accepted that reckless lending has helped cause the greatest collapse in the global economy since the Depression years of the 1930′s. Yet many bankers still maintain it is vital they continue to pursue “innovation” of the type that has brought about this collapse. Martin Wolf, a former EPCA speaker, makes a […]
The blog has always had enormous respect for Dow. This was due to their ability to manage unconventional risks, in a way that other chemical companies (such as the blog’s former employer, ICI), found impossible. Even when things went wrong, they always had a Plan B, which allowed them to exit on a sensible basis. […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such as oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.