Chemical Reactions Meet Human Interactions

When you think of a chemical plant what do you see? A distant complex of gleaming silver piping, buildings, pumps and giant distillation towers with smoke-like substances wafting above them?

As an outsider to this world, this is what used to come to mind for me until I facilitated a 5 Dynamics Fundamentals session with a class of Stanford chemical engineering students attending Chemical Engineer Plant Design as part of their final term.

What does team dynamics have to do with chemical reactions and heat transfer on a massive scale? Instructor John Dohner believes it is one of several key practical skills being introduced in his course that will serve these near-term graduates and their future employers throughout their careers. John should know, having managed large groups of people and consulted in the pharmaceutical industry over the past 40 years.

Last week we posted about our ongoing research with Harvard University that reaffirmed teams with diverse Energetic preferences outperformed same-style teams. In the Stanford course, this same research was used to divide the class into seven project teams, balanced both by gender and by learning preferences. Read more here.

By the end of Fundamentals, these Stanford students understood the methodology and had some hands-on practice; moreover, they were already looking at their teams and appreciating the unique strengths each member was bringing to the team and project. I even heard one student, with Effortless Energy in a particular Dynamic, offer to mentor another with Reserved Energy in that Dynamic.

In the future when I see a chemical plant in the movies or flying into a city, I am going to think about all the people who made such an amazingly complex project a reality. I will also wonder if there is a recent Stanford graduate or two among them.

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