• WisBusiness

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A plan for state success: Exceed Minnesota


By Dave Baskerville
Having worked some forty years in the business world, mostly abroad, with many leaders in the business, political and church arenas, my observation is that the single most important ingredient for substantial "success" is the establishment of one or two world-class long-term, stretch goals. These goals should be established by benchmarking the best in the world and progress to be measured routinely and publicly.

For the Wisconsin, we only need two:

1. FOR YEAR 2030 A PER CAPITA INCOME 10% ABOVE THAT OF MINNESOTA

In job and business creation in the next 10 years, Wisconsin is often predicted to be amongst the lowest 10 states. When I was a kid growing up in Madison Wisconsin income was some 10 percent higher than Minnesota. They caught up in 1967, and now the average Minnesotan makes $4,500 more than us Wisconsinites. Yet, I believe we can compete with the Vikings on the field and Minnesota in the economic sphere.

Other states can attract 16 new good-paying, foreign automobile factories since the collapse of Detroit in the 1980s. Wisconsin zero. (We should not be 'shocked' when the Janesville GM plant closed as our last one.) Many groups from "Accelerate Wisconsin" to "Competitive Wisconsin" are admirably analyzing and working to bring hi tech and other jobs to Wisconsin. We know that Milwaukee's severe ills need much special attention. We must attract domestic and foreign investment; greatly increase venture capital funding, (now only 15 percent of Minnesota's); and bring in many more computer science, and managerial jobs that afford Minnesotans their higher incomes.

2. BY YEAR 2030 HAVE K-12 MATH, SCIENCE AND READING SCORES OF ALL NON-SPECIAL-ED WISCONSIN STUDENTS ABOVE WORLD CLASS STANDARDS

Wisconsinites often believe we lose jobs because of lower wages elsewhere. In fact, it is often the abundance of skills (and subsidies and effort) that bring huge Intel R&D labs to Bangalore, Microsoft research centers to Beijing, and advanced Micro Devices state of art chip factories to Dresden. Because our educational standards are based relative to the U.S., even if we "successfully" accomplish all of our State educational goals, our kids would still be in the global 'minor leagues.' How about targeting Finland/ Singapore in math...South Korea/Japan in Science...Canada in reading?

"When one does not know where one is going...any road will do" (or not do).

Without clear scorecards, us citizens will have little ability to coerce and evaluate politicians and their rhetoric/laws from the right and left. If JFK had not set a 'Man on the Moon' stretch target...would we have landed there? Do the Green Bay Packers have a chance at winning another Super Bowl if they never tack that stretch target to the locker room walls? ... If we Wisconsinites make these two goals our two priorities, above all other priorities, then workers and executives and all agitated citizens will eventually find ways/resources to arrive at these economic and education Super Bowl goals. ... That would indeed mean also the Wisconsin quality of life for all of us would soar!

-- Baskerville is an international consultant and executive counselor living in Madison. See his full plan: http://www.wisbusiness.com/1008/101025resignation.pdf

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