January 18, 2011

Mn Federal Reserve Bank president, N. Kocherlakota, gave voice a few months ago to something you may have heard me say as our country continues in this discussion of unemployment and jobs.

He suggested “the nation’s high unemployment rate might reflect a structural mismatch between the jobs that were available and the skills of those looking for work”.

Although at the time, it was “politically incorrect” and many disagreed, I say YES!  Over and over we hear laments that government needs to get the factories filled and working again.  This is a major disconnect to me-we have long since moved from an industrial society through a period known as the service society to what is now emerging as a technological world based on using innovation and collaboration to solve problems.  Along the way, we absorbed the Entertainment Economy, invented the Experience Economy and then gave birth to the brand culture.  

Of course, we will continue to manufacture products, just as we continue to farm. But we have long since let go of the idea that our country was based on exploration and acquisition of lands to support our farming economy.  But just as successful farms depend on current technology and education, so, too, does US manufacturing.  Unless we stop looking back to the “good old days” and start looking forward towards what we can do to recover and move forward, the BRIC and then the world, will continue to challenge and eventually pass us by.  We need to RETHINK, not REGRESS.

Let’s look to educational changes that encourage creativity and innovation instead.

In the meantime, it was good to see that at least here in Minnesota, our economic recovery seems to be moving forward from survival to thoughts of employee retention.  But business needs to remember, those employees will return gratefully, but wrapped in a cloak of distrust.

And for our industry, that’s a good thing.  An event can help.  Only this time around, let’s not get caught up in depending on that “feel good” theme party of old – let’s look at continuing to trump the push out from organization with the pull of  interactive discussions that give all a voice in the collaborative effort to rebuild.

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