Industry managers are daredevils

Do you remember Felix Baumgartner – the Austrian daredevil, who jumped with a parachute from stratospheric heights of almost 39000 m? He was lifted up to that height inside an ever-climbing safety capsule and at some point in time, already at a height where there was no more atmospheric light and oxygen, he had to make the decision to jump out of his cozy safety capsule into the dark. For sure this moment was well planned, and the jump had to be done within a certain height range. But still it probably felt special at that very moment he detached his safety gear and took the jump into the dark. What must he have been thinking in these very moments? “If I jump now there will be risks during the free fall, risk of frostbite, losing consciousness, uncontrolled rolling, parachute not opening ….” On the other side he was perfectly aware that his safety capsule was on a one-way trip to deeper space and surely he couldn’t stay in this RELATIVE safety for ever.

What has this to do with us in the cement industry? Surely, we are not parachuting from these extreme heights, but we are also faced with decision dilemmas in regard to the undoubtedly necessary efforts for the reduction of CO2 emissions. Which of the many decarbonization options shall we invest in and when? Especially when our beloved safety capsule has been serving us so nicely over so many decades? Shall we take the risk and invest in decarbonization and environmental technologies? Now? Or later? Sure, some day we will have to – obviously … But now?

Tough decisions truly! I guess there is one important understanding which can help us in making better decisions: When you estimate the risk of jumping – compare the associated risk to what happens if you don’t jump. Don’t compare it to what would happen if you hadn’t ever embarked on that safety capsule. Our capsule is under way and nothing can stop it – we have to find the right time to jump!

Yours truly

Matthias Mersmann

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