As I have worked with chemists and technologists from disciplines outside of paving, it has become apparent to me how important the science of commercialization and the process of understanding are to the success of my business.
The Commercialization Process
The science of commercialization is the process of studying and learning about your products and your industry’s technology in order to bring them to market.
Technology or product development is the organizing principle upon which the team focuses its energy. Understanding the underlying technology is the responsibility of every team member. Investing time in learning about technology and staying current with trends is crucial to your success.
The Process of Understanding
Upon reflecting on commercialization, two aspects of understanding stand out: 1) the leadership perspective, and 2) the importance of continuing adult learning.
In a previous blog, What Great Leaders Choose to Do, there were four core needs employees desire from their leader (see Diagram 2):
- The ability to get things done
- Hope (Code for a Vision)
- Vocational knowledge
In order to commercialize a product, the leader must have a working understanding of what is being developing. If the leader lacks fundamental understanding in the subject area, it is impossible to meet all of the Leadership Quadrants.
Years ago while I was working at Koch, we studied the four steps of learning. These are the steps that we all go through in the pursuit of mastery of a subject:
- Unconscious Incompetent
- Conscious Incompetent
- Conscious Competent
- Unconscious Competent
Jeff Morris, a colleague at Koch, explained the four-step learning process in a great way. He used the example of playing the violin. First you become aware of the beauty of playing an instrument (unconscious incompetent). The next step is the first few rounds of awful practice (conscious incompetent), and in time when you are concentrating really hard, you make beautiful music (conscious competent). Finally, you go from practicing to playing the violin (unconscious competent).
In the commercialization of products, we are rarely on the bottom step of unconscious incompetence. But I will be consciously incompetent until I have spent time focusing on a subject matter. I became aware of this reality as I was working with a number of companies and chemists and was asked to explain what asphalt is and how it is evaluated. Suddenly, I realized that I may be at a lower level on the learning ladder than I should be. I needed to revisit the Four Steps of Learning and apply them to myself and Adventus.
I love this journey of going through a new learning curve to teach others. When I learn in the service of others, I typically discover what I myself need to learn.