Learning and the spirit of innovation

Sorry about last week, I was out of town for three days at a conference in Dearborn and couldn’t make my regular posts. 

The conference I attended focused on learning and was aimed at the states and the province bordering on the great lakes.  For those of you who are not aware of it – I wasn’t – this collective accounts for a major portion of all manufacturing in North America.  By now we all know the tragic tale of this so called “rust belt” – jobs lost, businesses folding, lives ruined.

When you see the spectacular struggles of the auto industry’s traditional big three – Chrysler, Ford and General Motors – you might assume that it is only a story of gloom, gloomier and gloomiest.  However, this is not quite the reality.

While some of the larger manufacturers have had their struggles over the past decade or so, there are also many new opportunities being created in this region, especially in small and medium sized manufacturing. As one of the speakers pointed out, you may pass these anonomous facilities sitting in the middle of corn fields in Indiana and not give them a second glance, but if you were to venture inside you would be amazed by the cutting edge technology that they employ.

Quietly we have absorbed the lessons of our foreign competitors and shaken off, for the most part, the hubris and arrogance that got us into trouble in the first place.

The new manufacturing economy is based on innovation – which is iroic because so was the old one starting with Henry Ford’s first assembly line.  However, our new spirit of innovation is aimed at developing the human talent to remake the manufacturing economy not dependent on a “commodity” mentality but rather focus on using technology and well trained talented workers to continously keep us on the leading edge of innovation.

More than one speaker pointed to the need to re think and re make education so that schools are not just education factories, but rather inspiring and involving institutes focused on problem solving in the real world.

The challenge in a nutshell is how to inspire a new generation of innovators – starting at the high school level. 

Thoughts? 

The challenge for me has been to keep posting five days a week.  Starting this week, I will be posting two or three days a week instead of five.  It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say, it’s just that I would like to start focusing more on learning and marketing. 

However, I invite you again to contribute yourself by either entering your comments on a posting or making a posting.  If you are interested in making a posting please send me an email and I will arrange it. 

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