The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that US manufacturing productivity’s average annual rate of growth (AARG) from 2007 to 2010 is 2.0%. In addition, the report cited that from Jan 1972 to August 2010, the number of people employed in US manufacturing jobs fell from 17,500,000 to 11,500,000 while manufacturing value rose 270%.
Upon reading these statistics, I began to reflect on how technology has radically changed every facet of how we live, work, and connect with each other. I began to ponder, if we could measure and plot our country’s “compassion curve” against the Information Age (circa 1975 – present) would it reflect the same growth and efficiency gains that have been realized by our manufacturing sector? Could we conclude that our society has become increasingly more insensitive and greedy, or more compassionate and giving?
My first job out of college in 1990 was as a mechanical design engineer for a large utility company. My cube was on the same floor of the Drafting Department. Yes!!! Can you believe it? In 1990 this utility company had a drafting organization of approximately 800 drafts-persons. By 1996 technological innovation in the form of CAD/CAM programs eliminated the need for the drafting organization.
Every Action Requires an Equal and Opposite Reaction
Every single industry has benefited from the efficiencies afforded by technological innovation. Developing countries have benefited from this Information Age with tremendous growth, opportunity and increased quality of life for their citizens. But there’s a delicate tightrope to balance. The harsh reality for the US is that this efficiency afforded by our innovation has made us the envy of the world, but it has also produced a society where approximately 47 million people live below the poverty line, and millions more find themselves a paycheck away from this predicament.
The Next Great Innovation
There is a great opportunity for our country’s corporations, and citizens to take responsibility and lead the world toward a greater commission. The greatest innovation within the next 10 years will NOT occur on a processor chip, router/switch, refrigerator, air plane, military defense system, etc., but will emerge in the form the most productive and highly efficient society where its citizens embrace and excel in demonstrating compassion for each other. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Independent or Ross Perot supporter. I know that sounds a bit corny, but it becomes very real when women’s shelters like InnVision are seeing a 320% yearly increase in the number women and children requiring their services — or you experience an elderly couple panhandling on the side of the road because they’ve lost everything they own in the stock crash.
Unlocking Our Greatest Ability and Strength
Our greatest ability lies in our availability. I’m proud to be a part of a company that embraces the spirit of compassion and giving. For an example of our manufacturing teams efforts to embrace this compassion, please see my teammate Andrew Lach’s recent blog about our experience at InnVision (pictured right: Cisco Manufacturing at InnVision).
Through our availability, creativity, compassion, and yes innovation we can transform our country and the world in eliminating that seemingly “endless” list of challenges, and giving those ills pink slips.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. – Martin Luther King Jr.
Please accept this awesome challenge and opportunity.
What innovative ideas or programs have you or your company implemented to be world class in giving. Please share.