Chaos Brings Opportunity in the Global Crop Inputs Industry

Chaos. It seems uncertainty and confusion are the new status quo.

China has been cracking down on chemical manufacturers for a few years now. Add to that tariffs and the U.S./China trade war and utter disarray in the U.K. as it works through how to leave the European Union. Throw in your ordinary, everyday issues — a regulatory environment in constant flux, supply chain innovations, extreme weather disruptions, precision agriculture, blockchain — and the list goes on.

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We’re living through evolutionary times in the crop inputs industry.

Embrace the Change

After decades of talking with business leaders, I’ve picked up a few universal truths:

  1. There’s a difference between running a business and managing one. When things are going well, running a business is easier. It’s when challenges arise that managing becomes important, leading the team through difficult times. It certainly appears we’re going through some challenging times. Between supply chain concerns, a U.S./China trade war, and a variety of other business ills, now is the time when good business leaders will step up and lead their operations.
  2. Change brings opportunity. Successful companies solve problems. Growers must deal with pests. Manufacturers develop solutions; distributors make sure farmers have what they need when they need it. Success can also come in the form of new business methods. They’re called disruptors or innovators. Either way, they’re finding new ways to make life better for their customers.
  3. Leadership isn’t about the title. Just because the business card has CEO after the name, that doesn’t mean the executive is the one that employees respect.

Studies have shown that most people don’t leave jobs for more money. They leave because they’re unhappy with their boss. A manager who doesn’t appreciate the people he or she oversees will not be very effective.

Think Different

Apple, the inventor of the iPhone, once used that phrase as a tag line. Thinking differently is what led to the first smartphone, a device that has since changed the way we live, work, and play.

Thinking differently isn’t easy. It requires a willingness to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing business, and that can be uncomfortable.

In essence, that’s what Senior Writer Jackie Pucci wrote in this article on the Indian agrichemicals market. If the crop inputs industry is going to thrive, if India is going to garner market share, if the supply chain is to become more secure, if we’re going to continue to find better ways to feed the world, then it needs to be a team effort.

As Jackie writes: “Maybe the goal should be, if it isn’t already, for the entire industry to strengthen itself, by building trust, communicating better from top to bottom, and becoming more collaborative and less transactional oriented.”

This requires a commitment from all players in the crop inputs industry. It won’t be easy. Working people who have spent their careers competing will need to acquire a new mindset. Inertia is a powerful force, and it requires a powerful outside action to alter the existing course. It’s not easy for a single business to do so, let alone an industry. It requires thinking differently.

It will be interesting to see which businesses take a step back and which flourish in these chaotic times.