Beginning Cluster Development

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I participated in the economic development roundtable webinar focused on Cluster development.   Guest speakers were from Cluster Navigators.  The conversation was exploring how to get cluster development programs underway in your local area.  The speakers have published a 12 step handbook and process image of the journey.  This interactive session allowed a great Q&A dialogue across a wide number of economic development attendees.
Check out Cluster Navigators:  https://www.clusternavigators.com
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2023 Worlds Fair – Approved to Bid

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On 02/21/17 the Expo 2023 team announced that the US Federal Government had re-established its relationship with the International Bureau of International Expositions after withdrawing in the Bush Jr. era.   This is a positive step forward in US / International relationships and opens the door for Minnesota to bid to host the 2023 Worlds Fair.   The proposal is under development and will be submitted in an attempt to win the approval from the BIE in the coming year.   With 2023 rapidly approaching,  Minnesota will only have a limited window to ready itself to host the world.   Everything from basic infrastructure to developing new showcase assets to attract the worldMinnesotasota will need to be developed through vast amounts of participation of the private and public sector.    Stay tuned to this initiative as it leads the way for the USA to be one of the premier posters of World’s Fairs!
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Cloud Platform CxO Discussion

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I participated in the CxO roundtable webinar focused on Cloud Platforms.   The executive group was sharing their experiences around the selection, implementation, and maintenance of various cloud platforms for their enterprises.  While nearly all the group had assets already deployed in the cloud, everyone is still learning and watching the evolution of these platforms closely.   I had extensive experience in this area as a strategy advisor with Microsoft during the pre and post launch of Microsoft Azure.   Working with companies of all sizes to understand key implications and internal development required to move into these paradigms.   While I felt the challenges were still common and basic in nature,  there was a clear consensus that cloud was solidly in everyone’s strategy.
Challenges range from:
  • Keeping up with the vendor roadmaps
  • Developing internal talent and recruitment
  • Cultural shift to supporting cloud at the enterprise level
  • Moving teams from legacy methods to agile and dev ops based approaches
  • New funding models for business units to support cloud
  • Understanding how dynamic cloud pricing can jump as you scale rapidly ( especially with data storage)
  • Architectural best practices
  • Moving from piloting to large scale, mission critical application
In general,  these are all foundational challenges most organization have been facing for some time.  This raises the issue that the value proposition of bringing cloud computing into the enterprise is still primarily focused on cost reduction and in many cases it doesn’t always reduce near-term cost.  What isn’t being talked about is the use of cloud for more strategic applications of the business.  I have worked on numerous projects where cloud platforms have been the critical enabler for large scale M&A integration,  Internation Strategic Alliances, and tactical joint ventures between organizations.  As businesses move past the “how to” stage of cloud it allows the business leaders to start to leverage cloud platforms in strategic initiatives.

St. Thomas Risk Leadership Program

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I had the opportunity to meet with Faculty from the University of St. Thomas Opus School of Business to discuss the work I have been doing in corporate innovation and in the area of building regional innovation ecosystems.   The meeting also gave me a chance to learn more about the school’s new programs and actives in the area of Risk Leaders.   The initial meeting identified a wide number of areas of interest and overlap in these areas of work with future meetings planned to explore synergies.
Check out Risk Leadership ( https://www.stthomas.edu/risk_leadership/ )
**** Update:
Cheval Partners now has a team member on the Risk Leadership Advisory Board
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Online Education Platforms

9e2e0990-b941-4ff6-90d8-d3ba2542f487I participated in the CxO roundtable webinar focused on Online Education Platforms.   The conversation was a great sharing of experiences of various universities experiences evaluating and using these platforms to support their online education programs.   I have had multiple exposures to designing programs for online platforms from working at the university to the consulting I have done with universities building programs around innovation centers and regional cluster development.    There is an overwhelming need to build global education communities that can extend the reach of their offerings to students and workforces internationally.   Online programs are both in demand and liked by students/workers that want the flexibility and non-geographic limitations of access to training.
The platforms primarily being discussed on this call ranged from:
  • BlackBoard – Ultra
  • Canvas
  • Moodle
  • D2L Bright Space
Challenges range from:
  • Evaluation
  • Funding
  • Training internal staff
  • Culture shift of faculty
  • Metrics and measurement – definition of success
  • Looking ahead to where today’s trends are heading
The institution on the call are in the early adoption and learning phases being only a few years into their pilots.  Current challenges are similar and tactical in nature.  The conversation will pivot past the “how to” stage and into considering that the full potential and reach of these platforms will vastly exceed the brick and mortar aspects of the institutions that they implement in.
Some key aspects they will need to address in the coming years will be:
  • How institutional funding for new programs will be shifting to online
  • Designing hybrid programs that blend with experiential learning
  • Incorporating cutting edge industry practitioners to assure that online programs remain relevant and updated
  • Running dependable 24/7 IT at global scale ( with what partners)
  • Building retaining the online community past just the courseware
  • Building new strategic partnerships across the globe to create world class / aggregated curriculum
  • Redefining what degree means when your education is coming from many institutions
  • Building students along side workforce
  • Making lifelong learning central to the programs.   Not just the basics, but constant indusry relevancy
  • etc.
These strategic aspects are also at the center of conversations are the development of innovation centers that integrate with many universities and industry partners.   The shift is moving in the direction where the gap between university and industry training is closing and education needs to be integrated directly into the innovation ecosystem of industry and workforce development.

 

Summary: International Conversations In Innovation

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The past year involved a great number of international conversations they were exploring investment and practices in innovation centers in the United States with the goal to integrate them to centers back in the country of investment origin.  Much of the drivers were to build a sustainable bridge of industry collaboration around innovation between the two countries and to integrate education offerings to develop new workforce skill sets.
Here is a quick list of international discussions covered in prior blogs:
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Explore the blog further to see national discussions across US cities and Government

Building a Global Workforce

workforce-word-cloudIn working with cities across the globe on economic development, a consistent challenge our team it is consulting on is the continued development of the workforce.   Many cities are already measuring the shortage of skilled talent in their region and can forecast the gap their industries will face.  For young students all around the globe, the current university track is not as clear as it once was in terms of the cost, relevance and value.   This creates quite a dilemma for students and their parents to navigate.  The impact will be significantly felt by industry all over the world who will struggle to successfully operation and compete.   This crisis will involve building new/alternative models that will need to be led by today’s and tomorrow’s industries.

To break down the complexity of this topic let’s highlight a few of the top challenges in this space:

Workforce Gap vs. Next Generation Workforce

Today the metrics already show a growing gap in the skilled workforce needed to support today’s economies.   The existing systems are clearly strained, sluggish and possibly incapable to meet the demand.   This challenge is also compounded by the fact that many of the new job roles and skills (capabilities) in the coming decades are undefined or unknown.  As new industries emerging around natural resources, new energy, healthcare, space, genetics, etc. will require the development of new disciplines, experience, and the ability to create best practices, training, certification. The time gap required to develop these new programs will outpace the demand of these new industries.

Future of Education vs. Today’s Systems

Today’s primary education systems, and especially the university models, are under massive strain financially. Critically important is that they are struggling to deliver on their mission to develop employable graduates with the depth of knowledge and application of that knowledge relevant to today’s industries.  The future workforce also needs to be educated in creative and problem-solving abilities required to be adaptive to meet their career challenges. Many corporations must augment the university education with extensive additional education and expense to onboard new talent.  It is doubtful that the requirements of the industries of the future can be integrated into the strained education systems of today and get a different result.  The path forward will require new alternatives to be created that integrate academic and industry training backed by new funding and organizational models. Today’s model of universities (that have grown to be massive institutions that are not financially viable and ruled by a tenure system) will have to be challenged with a more global consortium model of combined academic fundamentals with industry application.  This also implies that these new global consortiums can provide a global education inclusive of industries and markets and new models of exchange.  Much of the curriculum will need to come from the cutting edge industries that are creating these new frontiers.  Industry will have to fund much of the workforce development, but not through a granting model with no accountability but more aligned with direct global industry internships models where students work and learn throughout their entire education and earn their education and graduate to direct employment.

Degree vs. Life Long Learning

While tomorrow’s workforce can be built with new programs, the current workforce must remain relevant.  New industry talent development models need to create a culture of life-long learning.   Societally we need to shift from thinking about getting a degree at the beginning of your career to having programs that keep you learning throughout your entire career.   As the speed of technology, innovation, and business keep accelerating, the workforce has to be constantly educated.  Thus from the first day of school to the last day of work you are always both working and learning.  This becomes the new norm of what a career is and it is directly integrated into education and employment.  A job is no longer just a job but continued growth opportunity and it is built right into the job roles of the future.

Global Collaboration vs. Going It Alone

Many new industries will arise in different countries around the world, but many of the solutions developed for the global challenges will need to be shared by everyone.   We must build a workforce for the world to be successful as a whole.  Whether you work in the country that is inventing, producing or implementing the solution, the skills will be required to be in all three locations.  Workforce and talent development programs will need to be integrated around the globe in order for new industries to flourish and meet the urgency of some of the shared grand challenges.

Ecosystem vs. Ego-system

North American companies have grown up in a culture of individual corporations making it big and competing against their rivals.  Globally, the notion of collaboration and co-opition are more embraced as many companies pull together to combine resources and compete in markets.   As global companies grow to or exceed the size of today’s leaders, we will see a larger shift to these global co-opition models.  This makes developing your capabilities around researching and engaging your business ecosystem a critical success factor in building tomorrow’s competitive advantage.  It will also be a key underpinning of workforce management and talent acquisition.  In many cases, top talent and capabilities will begin to be shared effectively across organizations.  Those companies that can’t share talent may find themselves isolated, struggling to retain talent, and ultimately be playing competitively against teams of much larger resources and skills.

Independent vs. Employee

There are many increasing trends where individuals are taking the path of being an independent contractor vs. a traditional employee.   Corporations also like the flexibility of leveraging consultants as needed vs. committing to full-time employees with benefits.  It also allows corporations to immediately bring on skills in areas they have not prepared for or an industry disruption where a demand has been created.   Given the speed of business and innovation, this flexibility in talent acquisition can also create an advantage or benefit to the agility needed to compete.   The rise of many online platforms where independents can be found and job needs are posted continues to create a global economy of resources and networks of resources, that can quickly be engaged.  Companies that become the best at leveraging networks of independents and can bring them in and out of their cultures the most successfully will have the advantage in agility and building expert teams on demand.

Manual vs. Automation

The 4th industrial revolution is frequently tied to the increased role of automation and robotics use as a workforce replacement.   While many benefits are gained for industry in the use of automation the concern is that of the human workforce that is displaced.   There are many new industries that will emerge around this shift including the design and development of the robotics and manufacturing systems.   The implementation and maintenance of those systems in operation.  The management and analysis of those systems over their life cycle.   Each of these areas will require the development of a skilled workforce to support the shift.   The challenge arises around the retraining of the existing human workforce either into these new fields or into other job roles.   This effort falls within the lifelong learning topic mentioned above  but has brings an added element of possibly retooling of skillsets.

Current vs. Future Industry

Considering the examples highlighted above, I will pivot the conversation to an opportunity.  These challenges already exist and solutions are already being tried around the world from which we can learn. India, for example, is at the forefront of both environmental grand challenges and industry workforce challenges.  Let’s take a quick look at their situation.

One of the great challenges of India’s economy is in the population growth.  With over 650M under the age of 25 and being on track to hit 1.5B in less than 10 years, India has to create over 50M new jobs for the next 50 years!  On top of that, 70% of those new jobs are not defined yet and will be defined by emerging fields like:

  • 3D printing
  • Nano Technology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual Reality
  • Space ( $70M for India to go to Mars/$200M for the USA )
  • Transportation
  • Driverless Cars
  • Genetics
  • Communication
  • Robots / Drones

These fields are new and will spawn many adjacent industries to support the primary innovations.  They are also high complexity fields that will require an amazing depth of education and lifelong learning as the industries mature. India already knows it can’t solve these challenges alone, but many of the first experiments and programs will be tried here and this makes it a critical market to study as other countries evaluate their options and to see how people are already collaborating.

To gain a deeper insight into the many fronts where India is facing leading challenges, please see my blog that dives more deeply into their situation:   Future of India

The workforce challenges are real and the solutions will take new cultures of collaboration, new models, and cultural shifts to solve them.  I plan on breaking these challenges down further to explore options that are being pursued in different regions and what models are emerging that will disrupt many of today’s systems.