"Innovation is CREATIVITY that ships" (Steve Jobs). Not a PowerPoint slidedeck.

Keywords: Rural Entrepreneurship, Technology Transfer, Regional Economic Growth

“CEOs are going to think harder about the consequences about moving jobs overseas.” (a response based on a trending tweet)

The quagmire facing policy makers is the question of job creation for the unemployed and underemployed in blue-collar America. While there are many answers to this question, it has been the topic du jour in many election campaigns.

I pondered about “Blue Collar Asset Management” (BCAM) over a bowl of Kellogg. In this note I will offer some rudimentary ideas for enhancing the economic security for blue-collar America.

First and foremost, taking a page from The Boys in the Boat, let’s not forget that “skilled hands [in America] can [also] do a lot more than tap at screens.”

As a nation, we need to reexamine the value chain of a business that is primarily driven by outsourcing and/or “shipping jobs overseas” [as a corporate policy] and “employ” (pun intended) tactics for systematically recovering and rebuilding the core competencies of a firm (lost due to sub-optimal decision-making, lackluster human capital management, or myopic cost cutting).

From a business perspective, with the default bias towards offshoring (selective or total), the prevailing trend is to use contingent staffing (nearshore, offshore) to get things done and, in the process, transfer technology and know-how to temporary resources. This strategy, in my view, leads to a gradual erosion of intellectual capital of the firm. Often there are other unintended consequences such as a “fox guarding the hen house.”

While profit maximization has received greater focus, preserving the core competencies or core capability management has received lesser scrutiny and has been off the radar of senior leadership, including the boardroom, in most companies.

Consequently, a firm’s ability to effectively compete for the future is at risk, which in turn impacts job creation, employment, and regional economic growth.

The recent Twitter prompts from the echelons or top of the pyramid could be viewed as a constructive nudge with a dash of positivity, if you will, to discuss the undiscussable (job creation in America) and cause a visible change in priorities in the corporate boardrooms towards the following:

  • How can we pivot to a significant shift towards Reverse Offshoring through Intrapreneurship (ROI)?
  • Can we germinate a Silicon Valley mindset across all zip codes to generate the momentum for entrepreneurial capitalism in America?

Pocock derived enormous pride from his work. He would not make more boats than he could make with perfection and beauty. “No one will ask you how long it took to build,” he said. “They will only ask who built it.”

“There remains a cultlike devotion to the wooden works of boatbuilding art. As long as it lasts, there will be a need for the Pocock type of boat-maker.”

Let us leverage the creativity of the Turnaround Management Association to turnaround distressed businesses on Main Street and coach, mentor, teach, and motivate the unemployed and underemployed to become both producers (entrepreneurs) who have a similar passion as a Pocock type of boat-maker.” These are the real-life case studies that B-schools could use for experiential learning and build community. We should also promote intrapreneurship inside the company and find ways to minimize or reduce the default dependence on offshoring.

Using an ROI lens in Main Street (not just Wall Street) and taking a page from Karma Yoga, let’s work together to “bind the wounds of division”  and practice Trauma Informed Leadership  in a Tidal world (TILT).

By working together with a renewed sense of purpose, we can increase our Tenacity quotient, Intellectual quotient, and Emotional intelligence quotient, “bind the wounds of division” (TIEd across all communities), and reduce the prevailing empathy deficit.

There is plenty of physical space in a number of strip malls where businesses have filed for Chapter 11. Why not use those spaces as incubators to engage with the community and champion entrepreneurship education by targeting the underemployed and underemployed. My sentiment is that a face-to-face encounter in a physical space can be game changer and bring people together while engaged in purposeful activities. Little things can make a big difference.

Relying on hope, my instinct tells me that with the collective wisdom, sponsorship, empathy, activism, and clout of the corporate boardroom and policy makers, we can form a coalition of the willing, operating without any quid pro quo and choosing to give more and take less, to make Reverse Offshoring through Intrapreneurship (ROI) as one of the core levers for Blue Collar Asset Management (BCAM) and enhance the security of blue-collar America.

Time is of the essence to act courageously like a leader for the American Commerce Turnaround (lights, camera, ACTion)!

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