Prologue

The following is based on a true story.

It is spring 2005 and Richard Sparks can hardly believe his luck. His company, United Plastics, a petrochemical business based in the UK, has picked him to lead a major growth initiative. His boss has just given him his new brief: launch Siliflex, a promising new product range of polymer coatings, to customers in the American and European housing construction industry.[1] Sparks feels like he has won the lottery.

Sparks has been working for six years as the head of R&D for the Extrusion Coating business unit of United Plastics. He spotted the potential of Siliflex more than a year ago, and flagged it a couple of times to his boss. Over the years, Sparks has worked with more than 200 companies in the ...

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