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Dec 1, 201610:35 AMMaking Madison

with Buckley Brinkman

You’re missing the point on manufacturing

(page 2 of 2)

Growth depends on that comprehensive approach. Organizations must find ways to deliver more with fewer people. This means rethinking value propositions, investing in new technology, and finding new ways to fully engage the people working with you. Few organizations will find it possible to grow by simply maintaining the status quo.

For most groups, this ends up being a choice between growth or extinction. Accelerating change puts organizations at risk and new technology can transform entire industries. The body gap only adds more complication and pressure to the situation. Modern organizations can choose to take advantage of these changes or risk becoming irrelevant — either because the organization’s competitiveness slips or its inability to fill demand opens opportunities for others. This is certainly not a time for the timid.

I believe Wisconsin leaders will make the difficult decisions and take the complex action necessary create a brighter future. Business, education, government, and other groups aligned to address the skills gap. This same alignment will be needed for this larger challenge. We need everyone — and their ideas — in order to succeed.

It’s a difficult challenge, but we face a once-in-our-lifetime opportunity to lift a whole generation out of poverty. We have the capabilities and resources to make this happen. The jobs are there and we need people to fill them. It’s time to act together to keep our state moving ahead.

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Dec 1, 2016 01:52 pm
 Posted by  Tom C.

Most of this opinion piece affirms the notion of "business growth". But, if all healthy businesses are that way ONLY if they are growing, that, logically, just can't happen. There is something wrong with this assumption of constant biz growth as necessary for a healthy biz. This is probably why in many places, though strangely not here, we find notions like "sustainable" or "generative" businesess. Such bizs create a sustainable niche in the market place and manage that position, and if done to the highest standards, actually generate new possibilities beyond their boundaries, contributing to the commons not just to employees. Time to think beyond growth.

Dec 1, 2016 02:33 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I have been working on welfare to work economics and the process varies depending on the cost of living in the county - it works in some does no work in others - how your salary scales mesh with the welfare formulas and cost of living will have a major impact on your success hiring low income mothers especially. If you have hired someone at a starting wage and then when they succeeded given them a raise and they disappeared or crashed- that is probably a formula gap.

The workforce shortage is far worse than it looks and data shows an outflow of probably skilled workers in the 40-50. The state needs to put as high a priority on n infrastructure to support worker mobility- child care portable affordable health care as it does in roads.

What is at stake is critical as at some point you lose the tax base needed to support basic services. School to work programs by the way will become a lot harder to implement under the vouchers for all approach that is coming as soon you will have 2-4 schools where you now have one and they will be private with fewer resources and less leverage points (a rural 60 child school is financially feasible with deregulation)

The business community needs to start looking at these issues now as the budgets the next two years at the state and federal level will be critical. Walls may keep Mexicans out but from my experience a lot of skilled young people I know are no longer working in America.

Dec 1, 2016 04:29 pm
 Posted by  P. Buckley

Thanks for the terrific comments!

Tom C. -- You bring up an excellent point, Growth is not necessary for businesses serving a stable, niche market and growth for growth's sake can lead to disaster. For just about everyone else, it's critical to keep the economy competitive and healthy. That's especially trust when we face a declining ratio of workers to retirees in the country -- and in Wisconsin! Fewer workers will be asked to support more of the infrastructure of an aging population. If we don't grow the economy, all of our standards of living will shrink.

It's also necessary for companies to grow in order to afford the investments in technology and expertise that drive competitiveness. Stagnant companies cannot afford the tools that drive drive efficiencies.

Anonymous -- I think you did a terrific job highlighting one of the most difficult challenges facing us in the coming five years. We need everyone possible in the workforce, but there are a myriad of obstacles to making that happen. No one solution will solve the problem and you correctly point out that failing in this challenge will mean that we lose tax base.

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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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