Industrial Commons

New plans can be scary.

Had an interesting phone call from a senior executive in the U.S. EPA. Seems the federal government is rolling out what they refer to as e3 (Economy, Energy, Environment) as a national manufacturing policy. The plan involves six federal agencies (EPA, DOE, DOC, DOL, SBA, and USDA).

This federal team of “experts” will visit all manufactures to instruct them how to be more efficient, make more money and better stewards to the environment.

I must admit I have to do a lot more homework on this plan, but it does make me nervous when they start speaking of the Industrial Commons. Making available the country’s industrial commons to everyone—the collective R&D a commons for such diverse industries… What? Really? At first I have to admit that I thought I was being pranked.

Then a phrase stuck with me “then this will help us with social issues.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up. People would not believe this if this was a novel, but who is John Galt?

So I googled Industrial Commons and found, in the Harvard Business Review, a paper written on Restoring American Competitiveness by Gary P. Pisano and Willy C. Shih.

“To address this crises, government and business must work together to rebuild the country’s industrial commons- the collective R&D, engineering, and manufacturing that sustain innovation.”

Later the paper goes on to say,

“Regulations and good corporate governance call for audit, compensation, nominating, governance, finance, and executive committees.”

In this 2009 paper, it very artfully explains how companies who collaborate with others to adapt to technology changes grow faster than those who don’t. Where they make a leap (in my humble opinion) is if this voluntary model works, where people voluntarily cooperate for their own interest, forced collaboration should also work.

Ah, such a brave new world we march into. This should prove to be interesting as we learn more about a possible future of the commons.

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  • Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager


    Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager

    Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.

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