All industries evolve or die. Those that die failed to deliver sufficient value to all. Industries that flex with holistic value in mind evolve into something better. I live in a ChemTech world. Legacy chemical can no longer deliver only on volumes, performance and financial gain. Value now embodies consumer trust, human and animal welfare, environmental sustainability, geographic equity, etc. Do you understand what drives your industry’s future value?
Dare to create
We all imagine, but few dare beyond to detail a blueprint for creation. We’re not talking Book of Genesis or a hundred-page business plan; rather put pen to paper to capture several bulleted actions. Then challenge yourself to expand over an ambitious but manageable period of time. The following ideas may be useful in collecting those bullets.
Stop thinking disrupt. Harness evolution
I loathe the use of the term disrupt! Industry evolution can be abrupt, but I dare not say disrupt. Disrupt evokes chaos and a general disregard for wisdom. Evolution has honed strategies developed over billions of years that I’m sure will persist well beyond our kind. I recommend embracing evolution’s strategies before Silicon Valley vernacular.
Honor your predecessors’ wisdom
We honor wisdom by understanding failure in the context of the past, and then converting it into a surmountable challenge in the present. The process starts by spending time and genuinely connecting with your predecessors. It is as simple as grabbing a beer, buying a lunch or soaking in coffee smells at Brew HaHa! I cherish this part of my job, and as the chemical wisdom in Delaware runs deep. I’m incredibly grateful to the tens of women and men with current a past job titles such as fellow, SVP, EVP, CSO, CEO, etc., who have voluntarily shared their wisdom.
Be a meaningful volunteer
Helping evolve an industry requires a degree of hyperfocus, but should avoid the mania. Fracture your time into a balanced life of meaningful activities that scratch a maniacal itch for impact by providing service to others. Family is first in my life, but I also make sure to spend at least 20 hours a month serving nonprofits and mentoring people who dare honor my limited wisdom. It’s all circular, my friends.
Lose the office
Work travels readily on a smart phone, so lose the walls, stretch your legs and be physically present everywhere your industry operates. You need to breathe your industry fully, and you must see firsthand how evolution impacts all people in it.
Surround yourself with people who challenge you
I realized in middle school that being best is impractical, but being better is achievable by everyone. Continual improvement and growth is inspired by the achievements of others. I make it a point to surround myself with people who are better than me in facets of life that I aim to improve for myself. Right now for example, I am humbled on a daily basis by interacting with the gentleman who invented the technology that has 100% market share to print every microchip on the planet today. I may never contribute to the degree of industry transformation this gentleman has, but I enjoy the challenge that he inspires and lived.
Challenge, enable and reward those around you
All leaders challenge their team. Good leaders enable them with the tools to surmount those challenges. Great leaders and true changemakers reward them for their accomplishments. This is all pretty obvious, but as I build upon below, reward is best served on a plate of collective ownership.
We’re talking industry evolution here folks…not likely to be accomplished by you alone! So to be a change-maker, you should consider planting seeds. The analogy is pretty simple – industry evolution starts by planting a vision that can be germinated, grown and sustainably harvested. Seeds don’t take credit, rather they store potential that only a nourishing ecosystem can cultivate through collective ownership. I’m planting ChemTech seeds. The Delaware ecosystem is ideal, and although the lifecycle is long, I’m in for the long term to see a bountiful harvest.
Just do it
Nike got it right decades ago. Our biggest barrier is too often ourselves. Trepidation of unknown and concerns of failure have most certainly prevented the world’s greatest ideas to be acted upon. Channel your inner Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman – just do it.
White Dog Labs Inc.
Bryan Tracy, Ph.D. is the CEO and co-founder of White Dog Labs Inc. He is a founding member of the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Biochemical Technology Leadership Roundtable, and chairs the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance. Bryan also serves on the board of the Forum for the Advancement of Minorities in Engineering (FAME), is an inaugural mentor in the Delaware Youth Leadership Network and is a Leadership Delaware fellow.
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