I did a keynote the other night for the Racine County Economic Development Corporate, located in, of course, Racine County, Wisconsin.
There is something *really cool* happening here ; when I get a chance I’m going to pull my thoughts together and summarize what I see. Suffice it to say, it is a community focused on opportunity, not threat; agility, not challenge.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran an article in advance of my talk, below.
‘Agility’ called key asset for Racine’s future
Business needs to be flexible in thinking, working, says author
Posted: May 27, 2006
Jim Carroll, a futurist and innovation and trends expert, wants Racine County business leaders to learn and to live one word.
Carroll isn’t talking about the physical ability to scale a wall or touch one’s toes. He’s talking about agility in thinking, managing and manufacturing methods.
“One great word is agility. That’s what we need, that’s the trend, the capital we need. How do we develop the agility to deal with the future that is coming at us faster than ever before so that we can shift on a dime?” Carroll said.
Carroll will speak at the 21st anniversary celebration of the Racine County Economic Development Corp.
The event will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Racine Marriott Hotel, 7111 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant.
An example of agility is General Motors’ plan to use a more flexible manufacturing model, said Carroll, author of “What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation.”
“That’s a trend that impacts every manufacturer,” Carroll said. “Consumers are coming to expect more choice.”
Racine County is like many other communities that have found the old ways of doing business are no longer lucrative.
“Everywhere has been through a huge amount of complex and difficult change,” Carroll said. “Too many of us sit back and say how we wish we could get things back to the way it was. It won’t.”
Communities like Racine have to continue to look ahead and to build on the community’s attributes, he said. For Racine County, the attributes include things such as location, easy transportation, lifestyle and workforce, he said.
Carroll, who is from of Toronto, said communities need to recapture the spirit and the passion they once had.
“There was a perfect storm in 2000-2001, with the dot-com collapse, 9-11 and the war in Iraq,” Carroll said. “If you look at the excitement that existed in the business community in the 1990s, there was a tremendous belief there was a lot of potential. That went away. A lot of folks stopped looking at the future. They have been getting too dispirited by what’s happening in the context of globalization.”
Recapture that positive attitude, Carroll said. See where the opportunities are, he said.
Specialized manufacturing, for example, is a growth area.
“To take on some of these higher skilled manufacturing jobs that won’t go to China, we need to specialize, we need to upgrade skills,” Carroll said.
“There is no easy answer and no easy solution other than a community saying it’s not gong to continue sliding back, but it will have the spirit and momentum that will move it forward.”