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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

The Dark Side of the World of Work

October 7, 2012 Comments off

As mentioned, I presented on workforce issues at Ohio Northern yesterday and as always it was a great time. However, the undertone of my insight has a bit of dark side.

We are in trouble as a nation, and this has nothing to do with current politics, taxes or international affairs.

Its about numbers, big and small. The numbers are demographics, and their effect will change the way communities, regions, states and the nation will operate. To illustrate, let me show you a graph, it’s worth a thousand words.

Look long and hard at this graph…and take it in.

We are in trouble.

First, lets look at one of the basic factors of economic development, that is a simple equation:

E (Economy) > P (Population)

Economic development is about growing your economy at a faster rate then your population. This definition helps us understand a few things:

1) If your economy is growing faster then your population there will be more revenue per person for reinvestment into the community.

2) If your economy is shrinking slower then your population, again, more revenue per person for reinvestment into the community.

The above scenario’s are a great thing as a community can use these extra funds to make things better for everyone, attracting more growth, etc…

Of course, the dark side should be now apparent, if the economy grows more slowly then the population for a long period of time, then the community has less dollars to serve. If you own a business, this means serving more with less, ultimately leading to closure.

So back to the graph, we will see a potential shortage of 20 million working in the next 5 to 10 years. What does this mean for a community?  Consider our definition of economic development…can the economy support the loss of workforce?

What this means is that some places, the places that can provide the necessary workforce, skill sets, and support to these businesses, will thrive. Those communities that cannot will, quite simply, disappear.

Are you scared yet?

Mind you, this is based on real numbers, not spin, not political discourse…but numbers.

There is good news…we CAN pull out of this situation. IF we realize sooner, then later, that serious change needs to occur, we can work together to make this situation better.

Let us start the conversation soon.

Eric

Ref: Lautman, Mark – When the Boomers Bail, 2011, Logan Square Press

Myths…

February 4, 2012 Comments off

I was looking over a local private school’s web site recently and found their “Career Development” page. Interested in what is being said, I clicked on the link. What I found summarized the situation are region currently is facing. To spare any embarrassment to the school or its individuals, I will not post the exact link, so you will have to take my word. However, from what I have gathered from other professionals in Economic and Workforce Development, this mind set is very common within the region.

The presentation as I found was designed for 8th grade students and their parents. This is a very important age and grade as these students are transitioning to high school, planning classes and considering options. It should be an exciting time and a fantastic way of reaching out and invigorating families. Sadly, the presentation was geared for only one thing, college. No options of any other possible career pathways were given to these eager (and anxious) students. There was little mention of a path that did not include college, most specifically a four year degree. To add to the overwhelming nature of this process, a curriculum guide was given to the families as well. This guide listed the courses recommended…a “Fast Track” and a “Super Fast Track” to college…or, “how to get out of the area as fast as possible…”

My point in bringing this up is that the myth that college is the ONLY option is so prevalent, so engrained, that we do not bring up any other scenarios to students. We assume that indeed college is the only option to the point of mass batching students at such young ages. We know, based on everything we’ve been hearing, that this is the wrong approach, that the process is much more dynamic then a one size fits all mentality.

E-

A Deafness to Success

January 22, 2012 1 comment

My Great Aunt Jeanie Yates was “deaf” since birth. Growing up in a time where deafness was considered a sign of deficiency, my late Grandmother (her sister) recalls sending Jeanie to a “special school” in Columbus, Ohio for weeks at a time. The tragedy of being “deaf” (as it was called then, now we say hearing impaired) seem tragic to their family.

But, upon meeting Aunt Jeanie, she was the perfect model of fierce independence. A gregarious soul that actually hated using sign language, she read lips…and communicated very effectively by mimicking the words back to us. Living on her own in Columbus for most of her adult life, she worked, participated and lived life to the absolute fullest.  She never let the challenge stop her, and she was open to telling the world how she rose out of the era where being “deaf and dumb” meant a one way ticket to demise. She also had a way of saying that being hearing impaired was actually a good thing and that she could actually bring a significant contribution to the conversation.

I was thinking about Aunt Jeanie lately when I was discussing the matter of our region to a colleague and also to my wife. “Its like we are deaf to our own success” I quipped. Realizing I’d said something somewhat profound (a shock), I quickly wrote down some notes:

1) Why is that places like Lima-Ford Engine plant do not share their manufacturing successes?

2) Why is that Proctor & Gamble discuss how they have  world renowned model of processing?

3) Why is that the small innovative industries go unrecognized?

4) Why is that the education institutions in this region are content on being “behind the scenes”?

The list went on for a while, but it came down to this basic fact, we as a region have a deafness to success. We do not promote our causes, we do not talk about the good things that happen, we certainly do not sell ourselves “Good Job”…those are values that seem somewhat Midwestern, “lay low, go with the flow” and certainly don’t bring attention to yourself.

This reality came to clear crossroads recently when Judy Cowan of the Ohio Energy and Advance Manufacturing Center (OEAMC) was speaking at a recent announcement of a new product line at AmericanTrim. The Ohio Department of Development director, Mrs Schmenk, was quite taken aback by what she heard about our region. She simply did not know all the good that happens here.

Who is to blame? Well no one, but like my dear Aunt Jeanie did, embracing your gifts and living them is the route to being successful and happy. It is time for us to interacting in the world around us and not being afraid of who we are and what we are about.

Eric

Creative Conservatism

January 11, 2012 Comments off

Any regular readers of my blog will know I have passionate views about certain trends we’re witnessing in our times. One note that resonates loudly many times over in my posts is the concept of creativity (or the lack there of).

Take for example this recent post in Wired Magazine…“Killing America’s Dreams, One Lousy Concept Car at a Time”.

The Detroit Auto Show has always been a glimpse into the future of automobiles, which in turn gave us pause to consider the future of everything.  But now it seems that the designers have stepped back into what I call creative conservatism. Dare we throw out our ideas and they are not accepted by the intelligentsia.

So here we are in 2012. We have batches of engineers and designers that likely came of age within the  hyper-testing culture of the U.S. education system. They have been asked to remember facts and regurgitate onto exams to make sure they are “proficient”. However in those mass production zones of schools, creativity has been educated out of most children.

In this blog title, you see the phrase, “Dreams roll across the heartland…” This line is part of the song “Middletown Dreams” by the Canadian rock group Rush. The song goes to explain the dreams most middle class Americans have about their possible lives, and the realities of their times. The great conflict between following your dreams or abiding by standard social convention.

Looking at the cars in this years car show, its clear to me this conflict is alive and well in our modern society.

Eric

Viva The Patent Clerk

January 7, 2012 Comments off

We all recall that  Albert Einstein’s first big career move was as a Swiss patent clerk.

Oh the patent clerk, perhaps viewed upon at the time as the most menial of Swiss civil professional roles. Einstein struggled, even within this career at first, being denied a promotion (how would you like that on your resume, “Denied promotion to Albert Einstein”).

A patent office….hmmm. As our country recovers from this “Great Recession” as it is now known, perhaps the answer to our problem does not lie within a great lecture hall or capital rotunda, but within our own US Constitution.  In fact, check out Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution.

In 1787, the first Constitutional Convention approved (with a unanimous vote) what became the “patent clause”. This obscure little clause authorized the new US government to: “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

It is also interesting that by the early 1800’s, the United States was issuing more patents then our nation of origin, Great Britain and that those patents were leading to job creation and job growth…increasing our overall economic might.

We’ve been a nation of innovators since the birth of this country with the first colonies. We’ve adapted, we’ve changed, we’ve grown and we’ve made mistakes and learned from that. Those mistakes have allowed our creative classes to ask new questions about old problems. The stereo-typical inventor of the past (either Thomas Edison or Professor Philip Brainard from the movie Flubber) allowed themselves to do just that, ask a new question about an old problem.

That old problem (whether it be career, where to find a cure for cancer, how to grow tomatoes better, or even our education system) begs to be revisited again with a fresh perspective. Those that ask the questions, and can be allowed to nurture their ideas, will be the ones to lead us all into a new era of this country.

Eric

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