Resource Revolution: A book review by Bob Morris

Resource RevolutionResource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century
Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers with Paul Carroll
Melcher Media/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014)

How to take full advantage of the abundance of unprecedented business opportunities during the new industrial revolution

As Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers observe in the Introduction to this book, written with Paul Carroll, “Many people, companies, and even nations will try to resist the new industrial revolution. People always resist revolutions. The Luddites tried to kill the first industrial revolution by destroying the steam engines, even though the new machines took Europe out of grinding poverty by delivering productivity that drove unprecedented economic growth. Political gridlock and two world wars tried to kill the second industrial revolution, which eventually defined the dramatic improvements in economic outcomes in the twentieth century.”

After years of rigorous and extensive research, Heck and Rogers concluded that the third industrial revolution, now underway, “will dwarf the previous industrial revolutions in terms of both size and speed.” They characterize it as a “resource revolution” and wrote this book so they could (a) suggest the nature and extent of unprecedented opportunities this third generation is generating, and (b) explain how and why capturing these opportunities requires a new management style.” That, in essence, is what this book is about.

They examine a multi-decade economic transition from one set of primary resources to another as the new revolution unleashes substantial economic growth and productivity improvements, “enabling millions to enter the middle class, and giving birth to new industries and business models.” I agree with them that no one can predict how business will look in twenty or thirty years, “any more than Watt could have foreseen how his steam engine would transform the world.” However, as countless global corporations have already demonstrated (e.g. Dow, DuPont, GS Caltex, SK Refining, and Walmart), “resources are the right area of focus and that the opportunities are extraordinary.”

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Heck and Rogers’ coverage.

o Accelerated expansion of the middle class (Pages 12-14)
o Wealth creation in industrial revolutions (20-38)
o Elon Musk: The Real Iron Man (69-76)
o Increase Circularity (86-90)
o Increase Virtualization (93-98)
o DIRTT: “seeds of revolution in construction” (101-109)
o System Integration for All, and, Business Models for the Future (137-142)
o Finding the Breakthrough, and, Choosing the Threshold (146-151)
o It Only matters at Massive Scale (165-167)
o Making It Easier for the Customer (172-176)
o The Committed Champion (180-188)
o Becoming a Network Organization (193-195)
o Looking for Talent Far Afield (199-201)
o Developing Talent, and, Freelance Innovation (204-210)
o Revolutionary Possibilities: 12 Candidates (216-222)
o Broader Implications of “the biggest opportunity in a century” (223-228)

I agree with Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers: “Producing a third industrial revolution that focuses on how we use resources will require a rethinking of the way that companies operate, and managers will have to adapt quickly to profit from once-in-a- century opportunities that are in front of us.” It is worth noting that zero-waste manufacturing is becoming the norm among major U.S. automakers. I also agree: “The challenges we face may be unprecedented, but simply put, any bet that we will succumb to a global economic crisis is a bet against human ingenuity. No such bet has ever paid off.”

This is an especially important book because it can be of incalculable value to almost any executive in almost any organization (what its size or nature may be) that will be directly or even indirectly affected by the tumultuous changes that are certain to occur within the global marketplace in months and years to come. Many of these changes will occur faster, in greater number, and with greater impact (for better or worse) than any of us have ever encountered before.

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