The number “42″ was the answer to “the ultimate question of life” in the classic novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe’. Yet as the supercomputer providing this answer then explained, it was a pointless exercise as nobody understood the meaning of the original question. The world’s policymakers are in the same position, although they don’t yet realise this. They […]
Tag Archives | VUCA
There seems almost no need to publish a forecast for 2014. Policymakers have toured the TV studios to confirm that this is finally the year of recovery. They admit it may have taken nearly 5 years longer than first expected, and that there have been numerous ‘false dawns’ on the way. But now, they are certain that […]
Knowing that we don’t know something makes us uncertain and cautious. If, for example, we come to a dangerous corner in the road when driving, we see the sign and slow down. Its when we are driving on a bright winter morning and don’t look for the ice under the trees that we end up in […]
We are now into the seasonally weaker selling part of the year for US auto markets, as the chart shows. The big months for volume are always March - August, and then sales slow until December – when manufacturers offer ‘special deals’ to boost their annual numbers. On this basis, October seems to have been a […]
Something very important seems to be happening in China’s polyester’s markets. The blog was brought up on these markets in its early days with ICI, when it was part of the team that launched PTA into Asian markets for the first time in the mid-1980s. It has always seen them as a source of steady growth, with […]
“I use the term VUCA to describe the world – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It is very difficult for people to get a total picture.” Paul Polman, Unilever CEO The title for the 2013 Budget Outlook chooses itself. If the CEO of Unilever, one of the world’s great companies, can’t get a “total picture”, […]
Different times demand different skills. During the SuperCycle, one could assume growth was a constant. So forecasting meant a focus on better understanding developments down the value chain in the relevant product silos. Then managers could be set ‘stretch targets’ to ensure they met expectations for revenue and profit growth. But today, as the blog has […]
Our World Aromatics Conference in Berlin, now in its 11th year, provided valuable insight into changing market developments, thanks to our array of top-level speakers: Ted Randall, Global Business Manager for Saudi Aramco, highlighted how their drive to reduce gasoline imports into Saudi Arabia would mean a major expansion in benzene and PX capacity, as […]
There are many ways to lead a company to disaster. But one of the most reliable is to follow conventional wisdom. The reason is that this is almost always backward-looking, and tells us little about likely future developments. The blog instead aims to help its readers to be successful and stay in business. So for […]
The 25 year economic Supercycle between 1982-2007 led to a major change in companies’ budget processes. They could simply assume that growth would be more or less constant. And so they were able to focus on their own specific product silos, and better understanding customer needs. Thus by the mid-2000s, for example, it was common […]
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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 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.