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Rebooting “Convergence” June 4, 2011

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping.
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After over four years away from the blog, I think it’s time to rev up the engine once again.

What have I been up to?  There’s quite a story in the answer.  I left my employment in the world of quasi-public workforce (It was Indiana, and Governor Daniels has been privatizing a lot) to follow a family move to Columbus, Ohio.  After looking around and talking to more than a few people in my new town town, I found a place as an appointee of then-Governor Strickland to run one of his campaign platform’s workforce initiatives – one linking economic development goals and workforce development goals!  (Go figure!)  Managing a program of this size and prestige was the height of professional exhilaration and challenge, offering me countless lessons.  In rare down-times, I could only sit back and reflect on how humbling it was to be in a position to try to help so many Ohioans as the economy went into a tailspin around November 2008.

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Welcome, WorkforceATM members! November 3, 2006

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping.
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I noticed a spike in blog traffic today, one that has not let up all day long. In searching as to why today…it appears that the new visitors are coming from WorkforceATM – the website for the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.

It’s heartening to learn that so many people are so interested in concepts surrounding the alignment of workforce and economic development. I hope you all feel welcome to add your ideas to the dialogue. Feel free to bookmark this site and come back…or, better yet, Subscribe to Convergence and have it delivered to you.

Another little hint: Using the “Filter posts by category” menu to the left, you can find posts that appeal to your particular interests.  As an example, this is what you would find if you clicked the “Workforce” category.

Again, welcome!

Bunk Floating, or Your Friendly Blog Update October 2, 2006

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping.
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A couple quick items as I look inward for a moment:

  • Yesterday*, “Convergence” hit an all-time high for readership. And it was a special day, as yesterday was the first day that this little blog went over 100 page views on the day (WordPress.com doesn’t count my periodic check-ins). 118, to be exact. Best. Day. Ever. (I’ll credit Burgh Diaspora for putting the number over the top.) The growth curve experienced by this little 5-month-old blog says a great deal about the hunger for information from the world of workforce and economic development. I hope you enjoy the blog and its content. Which brings me to bullet number two…
  • If you didn’t notice, there now is a “Guestbook” page tab at the top of the blog. One of my goals in creating this blog was to foster a wide community of interest around the twin pillars of “Convergence,” workforce and economic development. That’s why the blog offers space for readers to offer comments after every blog entry – because I want to know what you think about the topics raised. I want to learn more from the people who know more than I do, because others will learn as well. I hope that others who have additional insights can enhance the blog’s dialogue. And, hopefully, we will all take the lessons learned in this blog and use them to build our respective communities in smarter and stronger ways. So please feel free to leave a comment. Or, if you just want to say hello, drop an entry in the Guestbook. It already had its first entry, and I am now scared of the implications of offering up floating bunk to you, the readers. I guess the bar is raised. Please keep it that way!

*Little known, useless fact: WordPress.com operates on Greenwich Mean Time, meaning that our “day” runs from 8PM-8PM, not midnight-midnight.

I’m back August 31, 2006

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping.
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Just wanted everyone to know that I’m back online after a brief hiatus due to my relocation from northeast Indiana to central Ohio. Convergence will continue as before.

In addition, I hope no one was too deeply offended by the spam attack that the blog received in my absence. I did my best to rectify the situation.

It’s great to be back!

Young professionals habits, Part II: Welcome to WorkEthic August 2, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Housekeeping, Workforce.
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Pardon the “meta-Convergence”-style navel gazing on this post, but I’m working through the beginnings of this blog and am amazed at what entries generate the most traffic.

Some entries, like “Honda comes to Indiana,” seemed like naturals. The arrival of Honda to southern Indiana sent a shockwave throughout the Great Lakes states, and people naturally are searching for information on how they might be a part of this enormous economic development and workforce preparation project. So I have seen a number of searches related to Honda and Indiana land job searchers on this site.

But the number one entry by far on this blog – from comments, searches and other hits – has been the “7 Good Habits for young professionals” entry. For whatever reason, people are responding to it. I’ve seen searches for “IT professional habits,” “young professionals attitude + problems,” “Environment needs of younger workforce” and many others over the last week alone – and that doesn’t come close to touching the people who are researching the rapidly expanding pool of young professionals networks, like the one I highlighted, “Young professionals step up in Tulsa.”

But, clearly, people are interested in the issues of good habits for younger workers… I’ll presume they’re interested in how to promote the habits in their young workforce if they’re employers; younger workers probably want to know what to do to get ahead.

My employer, WorkOne Northeast, and Indiana Workforce Development have spent quite a bit of time on these very issues. It’s not my area of expertise (I handle the economic development-related planning projects), but I do know that the State is in the process of a statewide rollout of a new, formal certification process for high school juniors and seniors called WorkEthic Certification.

WorkEthic is a sharp program, one that integrates the objective statistical measurements of the high school (discipline record, attendance, grades, etc.) and subjective opinions of teachers (who know the work habits of the students best) to arrive at a scoring methodology to award qualified students a certificate demonstrating that they have good work ethic. This certificate is something that the students can use to get jobs or as additional leverage to apply to post-secondary education institutions.

So, if you want to learn more about WorkEthic and how it’s been applied in northeast Indiana, the original pilot region and the furthest along in rolling the program out, take a look at this page.

I hope this is useful; now, back to your regularly-scheduled dialogue about workforce and economic development…

New links added; Controlling the information flow June 23, 2006

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping, Stronger Organizations, Technology, Updates.
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If you haven't surfed the sites in the side column, you likely will be impressed by what you find.  I'm especially excited by the additions of a number of new "Stronger Organizations" sites – trade associations, Chambers of Commerce, etc.  And the "Community" sites are growing as well.  

If you're having trouble keeping up with all of your favorite sites, many of them (especially blogs) have RSS feeds (like Convergence) that you can bookmark into your browser or customized home pages like My Yahoo!.  I've gone from checking out a handful of sites each day (and taking a lot of time to do it) to making a quick scan of every linked site via a My Yahoo! page in about 2-3 minutes.  Wickedly efficient, and I only end up reading the information that strikes my fancy.  

Back on Monday! 

Sunday’s dose of admiration June 18, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Housekeeping.
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Hi all – I'm back from a week on the Lake Michigan shore. And I have the requisite early summer German-Irish suntan (not a picture of yours truly…). Seriously, it was a great vacation. We "discovered" a handful of fantastic coastal communities, and I rediscovered my love for Sleeping Bear Dunes – a place I hadn't seen since my parents took the family on camping trips many, many years ago.

This morning has been spent cleaning out the inboxes and trying to catch up on a week's worth of news and blog activity. So let's ramp the Convergence activity up slowly with an unsolicited demonstration of admiration:

If you haven't had a chance to look at the site in the list of links to the side, take a couple minutes and look at Buffalo Rising.

Recruiting and retaining the knowledge professionals – the Creative Class, to use Richard Florida's term – that economic and workforce developers want so badly as foundational pieces of their community's 21st Century future – is a terrific challenge, made even harder when you're in a community like Buffalo, who is fighting the Rust Belt perception while dealing with lake-effect snow levels that put South Bend to shame.

A fantastic way to fight unfair perceptions (like those that I offered up in the prior paragraph) is to build a community promotion website. The good people of Buffalo, New York have done just that – and, for my money, it's the best combination of information, utility, young attitude and community boosterism that I've come across. It's always a pleasure to check out what's new at Buffalo Rising.  The site has gone a long way in changing my perception of the community.
"Cooler" communities could learn volumes from this outstanding site.

Recharging, but not necessarily rebooting June 9, 2006

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping.
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It's been a hectic period in my life, and the happenings on the horizon suggest that life won't slow down any time soon. So my wife and I are grabbing a long-overdue vacation. We'll be headed up Michigan's west coast – to South Haven (via the fabulous Tabor Hill Winery), Pentwater and eventually landing at a condo nestled in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

So we're going to do the classic recharging trip – we've got some new tunes for the car, we'll be playing tourist, reading some good books (I know, my tastes aren't as broad as they should be), and enjoying the beach life.

Quite the counterpoint to Stowe Boyd, whose always-engaging /Message weblog kicked up about three notches with his recap of a conference in Copenhagen called Reboot8:

I left Reboot with a handful of email addresses, a half dozen blurry images from restaurants and train stations, and a few dozen new friends. And something more, something that has lodged beneath the skin, deeper than a glance at the program or even a thorough reading of the wiki would ever reveal.

So, I will stay at the edge, doing much the same things day-to-day: talking with start-ups, reviewing new tools, and thinking about their impact on how we do what we do. But, more and more, you will hear me talking about how this all means we can do new things, and that old ways and means can be put aside: that we can make changes for the better, and entice the world along with us, to where this is all headed.

Gandhi said "You have to be the change you want in the world," and Reboot has brought me back to that simple defining insight. The secret to purpose in life (or happiness, or enlightenment, or meaning) is that there is no secret: its right here, in front of you, right now. And Reboot, for me at least, was in fact that kind of shining mirror, where I relearned that the key to finding my way in the world is to find myself, to rediscover what drives me to get up every morning and attack the empty white page, and to knit these observations into the skein of others' thoughts, needs, and aspirations. By working on the small, I am made large. By focusing on here and now, I am working toward what lies beyond.

And that's just a fraction of his account of what must've been one terrific trip. Having looked at the concept of Reboot, I am totally envious. I'm not a hyper-gregarious guy by nature, but the idea of trying to piece together elements of technology and social thought with a splash of the arts, politics and religion piques my interest. I would love to hang with that crowd – to soak it in and learn what they have to say.

But that's rebooting, and my wife and I need to recharge. So we'll take our books and beach chairs up north for a little break. And I already know I'm going to ponder the innovative logo from Reboot8:

The "goodbye industrial thinking" bubble came as a bit of a surprise. I like to think that I operate in realms that cover many of the other bubbles. That one bubble, though…I honestly don't know if I've totally shed myself of the industrial way of thinking. I suppose I now have something to ponder while I recharge on the shores of Lake Michigan.

On a housekeeping note, the past two weeks have seen tremendous growth in visitor activity at Convergence. Whether it's people checking out the site on their own or on a tip from a friend (thanks, Jack Schultz – and welcome, NASA SATS visitors!) – or even tapping my RSS feed to deliver Convergence to their desktop or email box – your activity on the site is gratifying. It's a labor of love to share the information I learn through the course of my work, but it's downright exciting to know that there are people who share the same passions for building communities through investment in people. Thanks for coming, and keep coming back.

I'll be back in town in about 8 days. Have a great week, everyone!

Away from the desk June 1, 2006

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping.
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I'm taking a long weekend – attending to some personal business – and then I'll be jumping straight into a Regional Workforce Board retreat, staff retreat and the 24th Annual Northeast Indiana Business & Industrial Conference.  Don't expect much new content for about a week or so.  

I'll write when I get back – promise! 

Friday roundup May 12, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Housekeeping, Innovation, Workforce.
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I’m trying to spin through the links on the sidebar on a near-daily basis – It doesn’t take that long to do, and the quality of the links generally means that something good will come of the effort. Here’s the info that bubbled to the top with today’s review:

1. In “It’s the Ecomony, Stupid,” David Campbell offers up the dual question of whether the Irish government’s opening up their universities to their citizens for free was the stimulus for their remarkable recent growth…and whether such an idea would work in Nova Scotia (where the blogger is based).

2. The “Business Innovation Insider” has its own list of links for the day, but I’d click on the link to see the “The Koolaid Point.” Gladwell’s got nothing on this concept!

3. TechDirt claims that innovation is a process, not a single event. Good point, and well written!