Where Manufacturing Matters

2020 VISION – Hope I'm Not Stumbling 'round Blind!

Posted by John Colm, WIRE-Net President and Executive Director on May 18, 2017 10:15:00 AM

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(Sorry for the obscure reference to Charlie Haden's version of the Gene Autry song!)

WIRE-Net's last full overhaul of its strategic direction was in 2013. In Northeast Ohio, we were still clawing our way out of the Great Recession, particularly in manufacturing. The changes we see now in the manufacturing sector had their genesis years ago, but the pace of change sure seems like it has accelerated. This is one of the observations from WIRE-Net's Future Search, held on April 21st.

WIRE-Net's Board is now conducting a deep dive into these and other trends as part of our 2020 VISION initiative, to set our direction for the coming years.

Other changes that emerged from the four-hour Future Search include:

  • Demographic shifts, regionally, nationally, and globally, are forcing reconsideration of typical talent management approaches.
  • Talent management challenges are compounded by fast changing technologies (advanced materials, smart machines, big data, Industry 4.0, additive manufacturing, automation, robotics . . .) and fast changing global relationships (TPP, China, Latin America, NAFTA . . .).

WIRE-Net has seen rapid growth over the past several years, and now counts just over 100 Supporting Members, and 280 Manufacturing/Regular Members, and you can see from the map below that they are concentrated in the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County (see Map: red is manufacturers and green are supporting members).

Membership Map

Last year, over 1,000 manufacturing leaders connected with WIRE-Net at one or more of our nearly 50 learning events. We offered manufacturing improvement, plant safety, and supervisory training programs, sales and marketing, business continuity groups, and more. There is a lot for WIRE-Net to be proud of, but we are playing in a $128 billion greater Cleveland economy. All organizations should periodically ask how they can do better and help move the needle on supporting a stronger economy that benefits all of greater Cleveland. (For more on our current work, see our 2016 Annual Report.)

Our 2020 VISION process, developed by the Community Innovation Network at CWRU with help from WIRE-Net Members Catalyst Consulting Group, Inc. and Roeder Consulting, includes the following:

  • Four Member focus groups to understand perceptions of our value proposition
  • A 60-person, four-hour Future Search, which defined the key issues facing Northeast Ohio's manufacturing community (see image below)
  • Expert interviews and review of key analysis/white papers dissecting the challenges facing manufacturing.
Mind Map

The Future Search began with three level-setting exercises: explorations of the last 30 years of key milestones in your personal life, globally, and at WIRE-Net. Participants then co-created a Mind Map (above) of the key trends we are contending with currently. You can see how the dots (votes) clustered, but here are the top six.

Key Trends

The nexus among Workforce, Talent Management, Manufacturing Image, Business Operations/Cost Controls, and Technology are all being investigated to craft a strategic vision of WIRE-Net's role in assisting firms with these issues.

WIRE-Net's Board will be moving into the Future State and Strategy Development phase of the process next, and then into implementation planning. If you are interested in contributing to the 2020 VISION process, or working with WIRE-Net, please contact me at JColm@wire-net.org or 216.588.1445.

Topics: 2020 Vision, Strategic Planning

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