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The 8 Truths of Real Innovators September 29, 2006

Posted by Tom in Innovation.
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Alain Thys, in his Marketing Profs: Daily Fix blog, offers “8 Truths of Real Innovators.” While I won’t give away the details behind what he offers (You’ll have to read his link – well worth the click!), consider his 8 Truths and how those philosophies could be (or, better yet, already are) positively applied in the worlds of workforce and economic development. Also, consider ways that workforce and economic development could be harnessed to support these traits in our communities:

  • Truth #1: Stop equating innovation to R&D.
  • Truth #2: Pay people to fail.
  • Truth #3: Treat everyone as an innovator.
  • Truth #4: Kill bad ideas quickly.
  • Truth #5: Launch first, worry about the shortcomings later.
  • Truth #6: Don’t believe what your customers tell you, dig deeper.
  • Truth #7: Don’t try radical innovation, buy it.
  • Truth #8: Mix elements that shouldn’t be mixed.

These Truths are counter-intuitive to so much of our work. And we wonder why we are not more successful at what we do?

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“Study Tours” – My type of tourism! September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation.
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Sure, I like the beach as much as the next guy, but this Inspire Nation company in Liverpool England has developed a nifty niche in tourism: Study Tours. If it’s all that it portrays itself to be, Inspire Nation takes this idea to another level. For the relentless community builders and insatiable learners, this looks like a dream vacation. To learn how the best of the best approach community development, economic development, workforce planning, innovation…that would be great.

I’ve seen community groups traveling to other cities to learn how they successfully solved common problems for a while. A great recent example is Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Invent Tomorrow, who took a group to Greenville, South Carolina to look at downtown development last year and is preparing to take their tour to Providence, Rhode Island to investigate innovative riverfront development. South Bend, Indiana’s Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County took a group to Lousiville, Kentucky for similar leadership exposure and development purposes.

For a nice overview of their service, check out the Flash presentation on this page.

Innovative Economic Development: Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation.
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You have to appreciate a government that recognizes where the economic action is at. While we Americans talk about the creative class; the Canadians fund it.

The Ontario Ministry of Culture is readying to receive its first round of “Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund” applications from “all the ‘creative content industries’, including magazines, film, television, interractive digital media, music recording, book publishing and commercial theatre.” Their criteria for issuing grants offers a window into the priorities of the provincial government:

The objectives of the fund are

  • to facilitate long-term growth of Ontario’s creative cluster industries;
  • to encourage collaboration and lasting partnerships
  • to support allliances between companies, trade associations and educational institutions

Project categories that have been identified:

  • capacity building
  • prototype development
  • domestic and global marketing
  • skills development

The Ministry’s grant page is linked here.

Small World Convergence: We’re all dealing with the same problems September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Workforce.
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In my semi-regular blog search, I came across this blog entry regarding the poor Indonesian economy. (Love that Technorati! You never know what will come up in a search.) The Manpower and Transmigration Minister engaged in a question and answer session with the media about the unemployment situation, and I’d suggest you pay attention to the answers he gives:

What is the root problem of unemployment?

Untrained human resources is the root cause. According to a recent international survey on quality of human resources, Indonesia ranked 59th among 60 developing countries surveyed, just below Vietnam. Of the 106 million-strong work force, 18 percent have never attended school, 36 percent are elementary school graduates and dropouts, 20 percent are junior high school graduates, 21 percent are senior high school graduates and less than 6 percent are academy and university graduates.

The industries have offered numerous job opportunities but they cannot be filled because of the absence people or lack of competence.

The low quality of human resources has a lot to do with the poor education situation. The education program is not linked with the labor market.

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Shreveport mayoral candidates address exodus of youth September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Workforce.
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One of the themes behind this blog is that workforce development is a driver of ecnoomic development. Nowhere is that more true than when considering the impending mass retirements of the American Baby Boom generation. As these people retire, there is a need to replace them (and their skills) in their local workforces.

Problem is, the young people don’t necesarily want to stay in their hometowns. This has been addressed all over this blog through my continued references to professor Richard Florida and his “creative class” studies. In addition, I’ve spent effort discussing the growth of Young Professional Networks that are growing in communities on a near-organic basis.

Now, the issue of youth exodus from our small and mid-sized towns is entering the political realm – and I’d guess that its importance as a policy issue will only grow. Mayoral candidates in Shreveport, Louisiana were asked by The Shreveport Times about the issue and offered their insights. I won’t give any candidate quote space in this blog; read the article if you want to know where they stand. Some of those candidates were pretty creative.

But I will offer some insights that The Times solicited from Shreveport high schoolers.

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NE Ohio Entrepreneurs: Concerned about economy, access to capital September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Research.
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Here’s a link to an interesting survey from Cleveland State University and JumpStart, Inc..  While there were many, many positive survey responses, I tend to look to the challenges:

Respondents had negative perceptions about the economic health of the Northeast Ohio region. The mean score (2.23) fell well below the midpoint of the scale; with 60 percent of respondents strongly disagreeing (1 or 2 on the 5-point scale) with the statement that the economic health of the region is strong.

The numbers were even more discouraging when participants were asked specifically about access to capital. Of the respondents, 68 percent strongly disagreed that access to angel capital is easy and 71 percent strongly disagreed that access to venture capital is easy.

Whereas these two questions did score low, they weren’t particularly surprising. “We saw responses that echoed findings that The Fund for Our Economic Future concluded through their Voices and Choices initiatives,” stated JumpStart Chief Marketing Officer Thom Ruhe. “As for the pessimistic view on access to capital, here too, we find validity in entrepreneurs’ claims as was identified last year by NorTech in their Early-Stage Capital Task Force Report,” Ruhe added. “I think a main take away from the survey is that Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurs know we have our work cut out for ourselves, but we are overall optimistic that we can do it,” Ruhe concluded.

It takes a brave organization to point out the potential shortcomings of their home region; however, those that face their challenges squarely are more likely to create meaningful solutions.  Kudos to them.

WIRED: Alabama-Mississippi is ready to launch September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, WIRED, Workforce.
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The (Columbus, Mississippi) Commercial Dispatch informs us that the Alabama-Mississippi WIRED rollout will take place tomorrow in Meridian (Mississippi?). Good luck to them!

Harvard Business Review: “Developing First-Time Managers Collection” September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education.
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One of the wider pieces of feedback that I’ve received since getting into the world of workforce – from employers, economic developers and beyond – is that insufficient attention is being paid by the public workforce system to the issue of managerial development…especially first-time managers.

As the workforce shrinks and the large Baby Boom generation retires, those Baby Boomers will take a large amount of managerial experience with them. Take the example of a grocery store (real world example): The classic story is that of the motivated, hardworking bagger or cashier who is promoted to department or store management. Or, in another real world example: How about a manufacturer, who wants to take their long-tenured, highly-skilled machinist and move them into the management chain?

Sadly, our society is presuming that these top performers have what it takes to succeed in management. But that’s not to be assumed. So who’s taking these non-degreed staff and infusing them with the management skills needed to succeed? Believe it or not, this is a major concern for communities and a question that economic development prospects are asking.
I’ll guess that there are a number of independent or unorthodox training programs on the market, but I received an email for one that probably is a better bet than many: Harvard Business Review has released a collection of learning materials called the “Developing First-Time Managers Collection.” Combining HBR books and a CD-ROM, it appears that employers would have a nifty collection of training tools.

(Lest anyone think otherwise, I’m not getting a dime in royalty for this promotion – nor am I coordinating promotion of this program with Harvard Business Review in any way.)

10 innovators in higher education September 22, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Innovation.
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The high school world has started to transform itself to meet the challenges of the shrinking post-Baby Boomer population (turning the phrase “No Child Left Behind” in an operational imperative, not a legislative package related to high-stakes testing). This notion is best conveyed through the “Rigor, Relevance & Relationships” movement in secondary education. Whether taking the form of Career Majors Academies or other models, the new “3 R’s” is taking hold in with our high schools.

While our leading high schools are reeingineering themselves to meet the changing workforce demands of a knowledge-based, post-industrial economy, higher education has been strangely insulated from this sea change in educational philosophy. Well, most of higher education. Popular Mechanics (yes, Popular Mechanics) offers up their top 10 radically innovative institutions of higher learning. What’s their trick, you ask? They’re incorporating the elements of rigor, relevance and relationships.

What a neat article – and congrats to Olin College, University of California-Irvine, Florida State University (Panama City), Carnegie Mellon, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, Tufts University, MIT, LSU, Art Center College of Design and Ohio State University for making this presigious list. Other schools had better take notice of what the innovators in higher education are doing.

Thanks to Fortune’s Business Innovation Insider for the link!

WIRED: Alabama-Mississippi – Staff announcements September 20, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Meridian (MS) Star offers up the following announcement:

[East Central Community College President] Dr. Phil Sutphin announced Tuesday that Joseph E. “Joey” Kenna Jr. of Forest is the college’s new community development facilitator. J. Michael “Mike” Ellis of Carthage will be the civic leadership facilitator.

The new staff members will work closely with The Montgomery Institute in Meridian to help local communities in economic development and entrepreneurship. Their offices will be in the college’s Productivity Enhancement Lab at the Philadelphia/Neshoba County Career-Technical Center.

These programs are sponsored through the Department of Labor’s WIRED initiative, which is accessed through the DOL’s Employment & Training Administration site.