Kickin’ It

“Hey, if you think real hard, maybe we can stop the rain!”

Woodstock 1969 (Bethel, NY)

Are you thinking that the quote doesn’t quite match the picture?  Well, it actually does.  Let’s explore the connection.  This naively hopeful thought has long-endured as a symbol of the positive thinking that got the ball rolling for an entire generation.  Today it has applicability within the more contemporary context of fixing a broken economy.  The message here is that sometimes it really is the thought that counts. Concept and activity (in some direction) can justifiably trump pinpoint execution.

Sometimes the key is just to get the ball rolling…. in some semi-logical direction.  Once the ball is moving, its energy becomes something that we can grab onto and manage.  Yes, it will come down to execution and leadership in the end.  It always does.  However, the power of positive thought should never be underestimated as a source of the collective spark and momentum necessary to solve complex problems.

Is the tide turning? 

With respect to off-shoring, we are starting to hear considerably more chatter about higher than anticipated total costs of ownership, supply chain inflexibility, and intellectual property concerns.   It seems that more people have become willing to acknowledge that the simplistic lure of lower unit costs is fool’s gold if offset by other factors that adversely impact important value propositions. This is especially true if customer service and brand loyalty are what takes a hit.  Is the tide turning?  Too soon to tell.

Increased Chatter

In some industries and industry niches, the increased chatter may be the first sign of activity in some direction.  It would be misleading to hint at a universality in these two electronics industry examples (CE Pro, Bloomberg Business Week), but they do illustrate the increased chatter. People are definitely talking.  One of the words they are increasingly using is reshoring, which would certainly be reassuring for many.  Here’s another example in an USA Today article that discusses a technology known as additive manufacturing in the form of 3-D printing that many are hopeful will find broader application and accelerate reshoring and job creation.  This is very cool stuff.

But Talk is Cheap

At some point, positive thoughts and those initial bits of energy only get us so far.  To borrow from a now-retired senior executive of a Fortune 1000 company, “Somebody’s gotta do something if we’re gonna get this cow out of the ditch.”  Activity in some direction needs to take over.  Better yet, purposeful activity in several directions needs to occur simultaneously to fix our economy. To be sure, there will be false starts and wrong turns.  This is just the way it will be and ground that must be covered on the way to finding solutions.

Coming Full Circle – Bloom & Boom

Many experts point to a massive retooling investment that America needs to make in itself.  They are not referring to molds, machinery, and fixtures, but rather to the workforce itself.   Here’s an example of one activity aimed in this direction (Wall Street Journal).  Again, it is only activity in one direction. But it is activity.  And it has a direction.  To come full circle, the activity in the WSJ article deals with retraining members of that once-idealistic generation above that wanted to stop the rain at Woodstock.  We now refer to this group as “Boomers”.

Collaborative Partnerships

Collaborative partnerships (as above) between business and education are increasingly promoting online education that is aimed at retooling US capacity by retraining Boomers to work in promising growth fields.  This emerging trend also represents a way in which higher education is attempting to solve part of its own volume issues by reaching this “new” audience again-this time at a distinctly different point in their lives.  In the case of our additive manufacturing/3-D printing example, government is stepping up to fund a $45 million project share.  These examples represent activity in some direction.  It’s a start.  Hopefully the kick-start needed to get and keep the economic ball rolling.

Photo Credit – Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

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About Thomas W. Smith
Bizsinc - Bringing Business to Life

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