There’s still time to get this decade right

There were a number of lists making the rounds at the end of 2009. I’d say there were about 2,009 lists, to be exact, all touting the greatest achievements of the last decade – best movie of the decade, best athlete of the decade, best album of the decade. There were also a large number of lists celebrating the worst of the decade, but I see no need to be negative, except to point o...


There were a number of lists making the rounds at the end of 2009. I’d say there were about 2,009 lists, to be exact, all touting the greatest achievements of the last decade %%MDASSML%% best movie of the decade, best athlete of the decade, best album of the decade. There were also a large number of lists celebrating the worst of the decade, but I see no need to be negative, except to point out this:

I’d have to turn in my membership card from Trivia Nerds Anonymous if I didn’t remind everyone that the end of the first decade of the Third Millennium still has one year to go. Since there was no Year Zero, each decade begins with the year 01 and ends with the year 10. Not my fault. Don’t blame me. Feel free to take it up with Congress %%MDASSML%% they’re legislating everything else these days.

I certainly understand why we’d be in a rush to be over and done with this decade. Between the economy and the environment, 2009 wasn’t a terribly happy year. And 2001 was a year no one wants to revisit anytime soon.

But at least officially, we still have one more year for the Double-Ohs, or the Aughts, or whatever we want to call this 10-year stretch. (Maybe that’s part of the problem %%MDASSML%% it’s been 100 years since we’ve had to give the decade a cool name, like the Roaring 20’s, and so it’s all been a little awkward.)

If you look into the night sky, you can see the darkness, or you can see the bits of twinkling light. I choose to be more of an optimist at this point. So let’s not be so quick to cast this decade off into history. We still have one more chance to get something positive out of this 10-year run. So as we officially, formally, mathematically wrap up the 2000s, let’s look at a few good things on the horizon for the coming year:

  • We’re paying attention to sustainability : Even the most ardent non-believer in global warming would concede that using less energy and more renewable energy is a smart business practice on a par with not wasting copier paper or counting paper clips. The side benefit of all of this sustainability talk is that it actually might stretch a few more millennia out of this old plant, so some editor a thousand years from now (and we will still need editors a thousand years from now) can have the same trivial argument over whether 3009 was the end of the decade.

  • We’re finally tackling workforce development for real : In every poll in every part of manufacturing, the lack of a skilled workforce continues to be a major issue. There is finally some federal attention to this subject, but the best way to develop the next generation of manufacturing professionals is to develop the kind of grass-roots programs we’ve written about in places like Iowa and Alabama, where union tradesmen, community economic development departments and educators are showing the way to the future.
    In conjunction with Mobil Industrial Lubricants, Plant Engineering will sponsor the Future 30 program in 2010 to call greater attention to the young people who have chosen manufacturing as a career. We want your input on young people who are making a difference in your plant.

  • The world is taking a new look at the U.S. as a manufacturing leader : Because they are trying to get closer to their customers, because they are trying to reduce transportation and energy costs and because they value quality production, global manufacturing leaders are building plants in the U.S., and some U.S. manufacturers are returning their operations here. It’s not in volume yet, and it’s not enough to overcome the losses of the last two years, but we must keep our standards high and offer an alternative to cheap, shoddy manufacturing.

    • This isn’t the time to point fingers, or look for others to blame. We’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work. Plant by plant, city by city, we can revitalize manufacturing through innovation and hard work. And there’s still time.

      Let’s not let history say that despite all the challenges at the start of the Third Millennium, we quit on this decade before it was over. We still have 12 months to build on our momentum and bring the decade to a close by meeting those challenges.

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