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Nov 29, 201812:50 PMMaking Madison

with Buckley Brinkman

Midterm election over, it's time for Wisconsin to get to work

I think we’re all happy the election is finally over. Hopefully, all of the rhetoric and animosity is behind us and we can focus on the future.

There’s plenty to do and it’s time to get to work.

It’s a critical time for Wisconsin. Accelerating change and the transformation created by that change will affect everyone, and no one can stay ahead of the curve by himself or herself. We face serious issues that can only be addressed with sustained cooperative and collective efforts. Still, successfully harnessing change and making progress on the critical issues will open tremendous opportunities. Our manufacturing and farming heritage creates a strong, pragmatic tradition that will help us in this challenge. We know how to get things done and will make it happen again.

The future is upon us and it looks different from the past. Change continues to accelerate at an exponential rate, transforming the world we live in. Advances across multiple fields make more and more impossible things possible. These transformations challenge all of us to keep our skills current to remain relevant into the future. Ubiquitous connectivity provides clear visibility to the speed of change and how impossible it is for any one of us to keep up without the help of others. This new world requires ongoing cooperation and collaboration — as well as continuous learning — in order to make consistent progress.

That progress must come in the face of serious challenges. The body gap will stagnate workforce growth and limit our ability to find the talent we need to grow our economy. Our infrastructure — both nationally and in Wisconsin — must be brought back to an acceptable standard to safely provide the mobility and basic services we need to thrive. We also face widely different economic growth patterns between our urban and rural areas. Both must thrive for all of us to be successful. These challenges provide the opportunity to test our abilities and stretch our capabilities to learn and grow.

Major opportunities await those who can address these issues and harness transformational change. That change upends the status quo in multiple arenas. Think about Amazon, Airbnb, or Uber and how they’ve changed the rules of the game. The next transformational wave will come from those that leverage technological advances against traditional strengths through collaboration and cooperation. This wave will create new approaches to old industries — and entirely new industries! This requires shifting our mindset on competition, sharing, and how we get things done. We need an eagerness to get on with the future without forgetting the past.

Wisconsin is a terrific place to make the most of these new realities. Our farming and manufacturing heritage make us a state of pragmatists. Sure, we have strong beliefs, but we know when to battle and when to find compromises and alliances that solve difficult problems and allow us all to thrive. We value education and know how to work together to get things done.

The present situation provides new tests to these abilities. Traditional resources are stretched over broader and more complicated issues. The speed of change makes situations more integrated, requiring more trust and collaboration to make meaningful progress. The current divisive climate focuses on our differences and disagreements. Future progress requires us to emphasize where we agree, allowing us to align in new and more effective ways. Only together can we create an incredible future.

So jump in and get to work! Put the election in the rear-view mirror. If you were a winner, be generous and reach out to your rivals. If your candidates lost, stay engaged to support everyone’s success. Together, we can make incredible progress. Make a commitment to stay current — keep learning, growing, and evolving to take advantage of new opportunities. Find ways to cooperate and collaborate, and fight your urge to go it alone. Instead, strive to find agreement with new people and look aggressively for ways to help your community.

It’s a great time to be in Wisconsin! We can manufacture a new future. Let’s make the most of our opportunity.

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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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