High School Students

January 6, 2012 Comments off

There was a recent article in BigThink that caught my eye.

“High school students know that their learning isn’t relevant.”

And there in lies an interesting conundrum. Our best and brightest in schools, and I’d say at all grade levels, are leaving this experience feeling marginalized, uninspired, bored and like their time is not valued.

As an “adult” if we feel our time is wasted in work, or our talents are being marginalized, we often times start the job search process to change directions. Yet, when the discussion of public vs. private, or homeschooling or on-line schooling comes up, everyone is quick to run to there corners and assume the warrior stance.

It goes back the new “Three Rs”–Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships” (see Richard D. Jones, The Process of Change–Why Change, What to Do, and How to Do It). Students see relevance (and lack there of) in their day to day interactions with instructional staff and administrative staff. Have we ever surveyed these students to see what their take would be?

If we are to assume that we continue to learn and develop over time (which is what most of the theories point to), why do we assume that the educational environments that we learn and develop within should not develop either?


Small Town Opportunities

January 5, 2012 Comments off

I have a deep interest in small towns. My parents grew up in a small town, I grew up in a small town and we currently live in a small town.

Much has been said about the decline of small town America. There is a sense that, like many things, small towns speak of a bygone era…a less-then-progressive environment…a place of limited opportunities and closed minded philosophies. Yet, for all of these negative views, small towns still remain as viable part of the landscape of Ohio (and our country).

So, what’s really going on here?

Recently Becky McCray of Small Biz Survival condensed the top 9 rural business trends. Her full write up can be found here.

Here are the 9 trends, I’ve paraphrased with my perspectives, but please read her insights!

1. Strong farm commodity prices mean strong local economies.
We owe our existence to agriculture and that relationship will remain. As changes occur in the farm industry, so to will those changes occur in small towns.

2. Some places get “just one more” oil boom.
With the advancements in oil discovery and recovery, many places are rediscovering resources long felt expended.

3. Supporting the local economy takes more than “Shop Local.”
Bank local, invest local, save local.

4. Self-employment continues to rise.
What a perfect environment to try something risky. Small towns allow for start ups to occur with minimal risk.

5. Ruralsourcing brings more high-tech to rural areas.
New term? You bet, versus global outsourcing, some companies are looking to rural communities and resources to provide those services.

6. Government cuts hurt.
Arts, literature, tourism, things that commonly were supported by government subsidies now need to be revisited.

7. Online doesn’t mean in front of a computer.
Mobile web, smart phones, the iPad and other devices have allowed for more flexibility in exchanging data, ideas and resources. This is NOT tied to sitting at home.

8. Online reviews make everyone a local.

9. Rural broadband drives business development.
As the spread of web services across the heartland increases, so do opportunities to interact within a regional and global economy.

Let’s keep this conversation going….


Creativity, Longevity and 2012

December 13, 2011 Comments off

Granted, I am a few weeks early on welcoming 2012, however, its time for a new start once again.

Its hard to believe that I’ve been dabbling on this blog for four years now. There have been slow changes in many things along that time, yet, the “big and new” has yet to occur. Our region still struggles with its identity and purpose. Leadership is fleeting with people jumping at new opportunities instead of holding a course for a long period of time. We still struggle with the creative sides of our brains, fearful that “staying put” means stagnation.

Yet, there is good news….visionaries do exist…perhaps the tide is rising slowly for us all.


Categories: Uncategorized

Tried and True

September 14, 2011 Comments off

Found a very interesting article in WIRED magazine…regarding starting a business. The fact of the matter is that most start ups are not about timing, its about persistence and delivering quality products.

The essence of creativity is allowing oneself to adapt and change. The reality is that we rarely allow ourselves these opportunities to fail and rebuild from that opportunity.

Enjoy the read…



Categories: Uncategorized

A Return to Normal?

August 3, 2011 Comments off

Its been two months or so since my last post. Call it my summer hiatus. The reality is not quite as romantic, but some fun was had, travels made, insight gained. All in all a good time away from writing a bit. Now its time to return to some familiar routines.

So what is the state of the region? What’s been happening?  Are we moving ahead or still fumbling around? The answers, as always, are more complex then a single word or even a phrase. I however will try my best.

Good news first, we’re seeing small victories here and there. Manufacturing, long one of the regions primary employer, is slowing regaining ground, however, the problem now is workforce and skills. Many companies (for example, Crown in New Bremen) are struggling to find workers that can get the job done in the capacity needed. This is creating a strange vacuum in workforce…one that must be filled somehow.

Overall the state of Ohio, in their zeal to reinvent, has eliminated the Ohio Department of Development and replaced it with a JobsOhio structure…this has created some unique challenges in how we now are working as a region. Fortunately, our neighboring counties have tried to set ourselves a bit apart by being long time collaborators. This is what will win over any long term issue, building relationships.

The work is far from over and we’ve still got many messes to clean up…but we’re getting there. Albeit slowly…reforming the region is not a quick process, but, together we can make it happen.


Categories: Uncategorized

What the Economic Recovery Isn’t…

May 29, 2011 Comments off

WIRED magazine is running an excellent series of articles on the economic recovery that we are currently experiencing.

Yes, recovery, the trends are slowly reversing, what makes this feel as if its not the case is that these new jobs are radically different then what the jobs were a decade ago. This is the new reality of the world of work. The job classification can be really summarized by the term “Smart jobs”. Read the article and feel free to comment.


April 3, 2011 Comments off

Yes, my spelling is correct.

The above is a term I heard recently, from of all places, a NASCAR race. Commentator Darrel Waltrip was commenting on how teams use “coopetition” when they draft other drives on the race track. Come to find out, Mr. Waltrip must read up on the trends found in business and economy.

Interesting, helping each other while still challenging the other to win.

I began using this term a few months ago to describe the era in which we are within for our region. Since that time I’ve started to research exactly what this concept means for me and the work I do. The term has been used in various forms since 1913. Gaining a bit more acceptance in 1944. The term quietly remained as a theoretical construct.

As you’ve seen posted here before, there are several themes we are dealing with here in the Cornfields of northwest Ohio. However, two stand out more so then the others. Namely, the redefinition of manufacturing and what that means for our regional economy, and the perceived loss of our young talented work force. Both of which have been covered in publication after publication. Great data and ideas…but…

Yes, the dreaded “…”, in other words, we have not yet been able to really to understand these changes well enough to implement ideas to bring the ideas to life.

Last Friday, Dr. Gee, The Ohio State University’s bow tie wearing president spoke at the regional OSU campus. His thoughts, the university system needs to create programs to keep our young people here. However, this is only one aspect of the conversation. We can build the road to travel, but it has to lead somewhere…I am not sure we are there yet.

But back to coopetition, its the over reaching idea of taking a regionalized approach to education and economic development.This requires a new approach, a change, and we all know how that can feel.

Charles Darwin said that: “It is not the strongest species that will survive, nor the most intelligent, but rather the ones most responsive to change. ”

Despite our fear of the unknown, we still must walk slowly toward this reality. If we help one another, yet maintain our own goals and desires, we will recreate our communities for our leaders of tomorrow.

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