New challenges require flexible leaders
By Gregory Hale, InTech, Editor
“If you come to a fork in the road, take it,” said New York Yankee legend Yogi Berra.
That quote just about sums up the types of solutions we have facing us in the automation industry these days. There is no one clear-cut choice. Take a look around and see how many answers there are to issues affecting the industry.
When it comes to power generation, there is clearly no one answer. On the green front in the U.S., maybe wind has a great future in the Midwest, but maybe not in some other areas of the country. Likewise, wind does well in some parts of Europe, but fails miserably in other areas.
Similarly, solar can do well in Florida, and some western U.S. states, and in parts of Australia and Southern Europe, but maybe not as well in less sunny European and Asian areas. On the traditional side, oil and gas remain an option, but with current technology emissions contribute to global warming.
Obviously, since there is no one answer to the world’s energy issues, there needs to be a combined offering on all fronts.
Not unlike the energy issue, there is no single solution to financial doldrums smacking the automation industry like a boxer on Friday night at the fights.
The industry is facing huge changes in the way it goes through everyday life. Past solutions may no longer help in the present environment, so that means new concepts, new thoughts, a new type of leadership, and new directions.
“I think in some of the areas one of the big challenges is probably understanding the demand,” said Norm Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell Process Solutions, during his company’s Honeywell Process Solutions Users Group Symposium in Phoenix.
“A lot of industries, you look at the chemical industry or some of the refining segments, and they went from a period of high demand and good pricing to a significant drop in demand and unpredictable pricing over night,” Gilsdorf said. “So, now you might have to operate your unit at lower capacity or might have to operate at periods of time with the unit shut down and then back on again. And that is a shift in how you control and operate the unit to a strategic philosophy to pushing a unit to now running it at a lower speed.”
There you go. Determine what the problems are, and then go about finding a solution. Isn’t that what a leader of a company, division, or product does?
Often times, there are two elements at play: Understanding and assessing what the main issue is, and then developing and executing on a solution.
Often these require different skill sets. What a company needs is a leader who can understand that and take advantage of those skill sets.
As much as some would like to think, there is no one cookie cutter approach to solving any issue. No one person has the answer. But from the start, the leader has to have an idea and stand up and say, “This is the way it is going to be.” If not, then that organization truly has the potential to become a free for all.
There are a huge amount of companies today at that fork in the road, and they do not have the luxury of just waiting the economy’s problems out. They have to know what direction they are going and what they are going to do when they get to that destination.
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