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Feb 13, 201811:55 AMMaking Madison

with Buckley Brinkman

Exponential change coming to Wisconsin

(page 1 of 2)

The more I learn, the more I’m convinced that transformational change will impact all of us in Wisconsin. This transformation disproportionately impacts manufacturing — our most prominent industry — so Wisconsin sits squarely in the change crosshairs. In addition, strong growth and two new companies coming to our state will accelerate the transformation even more. All of this creates tremendous opportunities for those who act and significant peril for those who don’t. Leaders must create sensible narratives and practical pathways to create future success.

Punctuated equilibrium causes transformational change. Change expert Adam Hartung describes this as a phase change — a relatively small change that affects everything. One example is the phase change that happens when water freezes. At 40 degrees, rain can be inconvenient, but at 20 degrees it’s dangerous and paralyzing. Look around and you can see phase changes in many different markets — Amazon in retailing, Uber in transportation, and SpaceX in rocketry, for example.

Modern enabling infrastructure makes punctuated equilibrium easier and more pervasive than ever before. The impact of Moore’s law on computing power, storage, and the internet makes information storage and flow free, frictionless, and instantaneous. The ability to learn and use ideas from anywhere in the world makes it even more critical to engage the three Ts — talent, technology, and techniques — to transform your organization. Punctuated equilibrium will happen more quickly and drive deeper than ever before.

In manufacturing, punctuated equilibrium and phase changes will take place around three driving trends. Additive manufacturing, automation and robotics, and connected devices will transform manufacturing and how we create value in our economy. There will be huge changes, and we can already see them coming!

They will hit Wisconsin faster than anywhere else because of our heavy reliance on manufacturing, two new major companies, and the demographic changes behind the body gap. Manufacturing employs about 20% of the Wisconsin workforce and supports a similar number of jobs in other parts of the economy. That’s a solid foundation creating significant value for our state. Two major additions — Haribo and Foxconn — will establish North American footholds in Wisconsin, with Foxconn bringing an entirely new industry to the continent. All of this manufacturing activity will accelerate change, and we haven’t even discussed the body gap.


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Feb 13, 2018 07:54 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I don't see where this addresses 1)poor internet access a cross the state including rural Dane County 2) crumbling infrastructure and 3) the declining population- I mean anyone who moved here from Illinois quickly realizes that a portion of the Wisconsin population hates our guts so the solution is to advertise to get more of us here? 25 years ago folks moved here for a higher quality of life that was the main incentive but a lot of what out of state people valued is gone or under attack. So it is nice to talk theory but I don't see where the state will move forward especially with the state budget essentially frozen due to the Foxconn deal. There is a basic level of public services to make it work- large portion of the state doesn't have it and with population decline may lose what they have in the next 10 years (wait til Trump's snap and Medicare changes wipe out rural grocers and health care) Foxconn will succeed in Racine county - basically all you need is a connection to the Northwestern railroad to fill jobs but that is one or two counties at a far end of the state. And what those of us who dealt with the Epic growth (and that had a small fraction of the government support given to companies today) know is that it took a long while before that translated into the resources needed to improve basic services beyond what was needed to support Epic (and if you have driven on PD recently you know even those basics have not been covered). To develop the state needs resources and those have largely been squandered on one high cost high risk enterprise. Happy talk does not change that situation.

Feb 14, 2018 08:50 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Happy talk does not change that situation, however fear and retaining a doom & gloom attitude does nothing to help Wisconsin either. Do I agree with all the concessions that were provided to Foxconn? Definitely not. But it is done and we better get behind this as a population and a business community or it could become a complete disaster. There better be close monitoring and measurements on regular intervals to make sure Foxconn and Haribo and other large corporations are holding up their end of the deal. Illinois investing huge dollars in Sears, Motorola and other large corporations only to see those efforts fail. We cannot afford to allow a similar scenario to occur in our state. We must now support it, nurture it and make the very most of the opportunity that is now coming here. It will cause difficulties for many and tremendous benefits for many, as is the case in almost any situation. Our job is to minimize the negatives and maximize the positives. All the potential new business that will come to Wisconsin businesses because of this economic development is where the true rewards will be realized. Change can be very hard but change is inevitable so this is the next chapter in Wisconsin industry and I certainly hope that the generation behind us will benefit from the decisions and actions being made today.

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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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