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Dec 7, 201711:20 AMMaking Madison

with Buckley Brinkman

The robots are coming!

(page 2 of 2)

Early efforts look promising in Wisconsin manufacturing. Leading manufacturers partner with our technical colleges, targeting critical needs and developing quick, targeted responses. These efforts become even more effective when backed by a bit of public funding and strong local support. Successful initiatives led by industry focus on critical, immediate needs and new ways to address them.

It’s a good start. Still, we must become quicker and more flexible. The earliest initiatives focused on chronic issues facing manufacturing operations, like the shortage of welders. The new economy will make new demands as we shift from lower-skill to more technical skill jobs, and create new jobs that don’t exist today. Automation acceleration makes it even more critical to identify and quickly react to these opportunities. Company leaders must engage in catalyzing solutions that reduce transition friction.

Companies that want their organizations to survive and thrive must shape and lead these efforts. Talented workers will become the scarcest resource as baby boomers retire and workforce growth stagnates. Under these constraints, we will need to engage every able body to keep the economy healthy and growing. Treating workers as expendable components will no longer work. Plus, the next wave of displaced workers is likely to be older, requiring a different approach than most organizations can currently execute. We cannot afford to lose their experience and expertise. This challenge requires industry to lead a fast, flexible private-public coalition to minimize transition friction.

Are you engaged? It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. If you are doing what you’ve always done, you’re falling behind. Feeling comfortable? If so, then you’re probably missing something critical and are at-risk. Engaged leaders are working tirelessly to transform the future and it’s bound to impact you. This situation reminds me a bit of the old gambler’s saying, “If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.” Something similar is true now. If you don’t know how you will personally transform the future, you’re already obsolete.

It’s time to jump in, engage, and stretch your limits so you can make progress. Stay comfortable at your own peril!

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About This Blog

Buckley Brinkman is executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity and writes about the manufacturing sector in Greater Madison and throughout Wisconsin. He has a breadth of experience in helping companies drive growth, world-class competitiveness, and performance excellence, and has led efforts to save dozens of operations in the U.S. by finding new ways for them to compete. A Wisconsin native, Brinkman holds a business degree from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.



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