How Much Training Does a Police Officer Need?

Chris Davis, Envision Board member and Green Bay Chief of Police

High-profile incidents involving police use of force over the past several years have increased scrutiny of police policy, culture, and training.  A February 15 piece on ABC News highlights the stark difference between police training in the United States and that in other developed nations.  For example, the average length of a basic police training program in the US is 22 weeks, compared with 15 to 21 months in Japan and 2 ½ years in Germany. 

A recent report by the Police Executive Research Forum discusses the lack of standardization of training across the nation’s 17,000 municipal, county, and state policing agencies.

A likely future trend in policing will be greater standardization of training, as well as increased basic and ongoing training for police officers. This trend will benefit communities in terms of better police service.  It will, however, significantly increase the cost of operating a police department. This may very well combine with a trend toward consolidating smaller police departments into larger agencies serving numerous political subdivisions. 

Improved training standards for American police officers will definitely be a trend to watch in the future, as it will have significant implications for public policy and finance while offering the promise of improved public safety service in our communities. 

Transportation: the Very Definition is Changing!

Heidi Selberg, Envision Board member Upward Mobility Signals Team

Access to transportation has been identified by the Urban Institute and others as a critical factor in boosting upward mobility.  But what happens when the definition of access to transportation changes? How do cities and rural areas respond? What infrastructure is necessary, and what becomes obsolete? And what are the implications for the environment?

These questions and others are addressed in a recent report in the Washington Post.  In ‘I’ll call an Uber or 911’: Why Gen Z Doesn’t Want to Drive, reporter Shannon Osaka notes declining rates of car ownership among Gen Z (born 1996-2012) and fewer getting their driver’s licenses in their teens – if at all. Reasons include the costs of car ownership, anxiety about driving and possible accidents, and environmental concerns.  The availability of transportation alternatives makes it easier not to have a driver’s license or one’s own vehicle – and public transportation is not necessarily the primary alternative. E-scooters, e-bikes, ride-sharing, and on-line alternatives all provide options to driving a traditional vehicle to be with others. 

Will it last? Will the trend materialize in less urban areas? And does this change the model for public transportation? Perhaps it already has, as municipalities develop agreements with scooter and bike companies to offer short term use of such vehicles. Another trend to watch!

Young Consumers Demand Inclusivity

By Devon Christianson, Envision Board member and Health and Well-Being Signals Team

Younger generations are challenging companies to put their diversity and inclusion policies into action.  According to a 2021 study by Deloitte, “it’s not enough to just market inclusiveness or diversity, as our results also show 57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities in their actions.”  And true diversity and inclusion go beyond race and ethnicity.  Brand loyalty also includes images and engagement with persons who identify as LGBTQ+ and those with disabilities. Companies are following suit as they see their gateway to growth reaching younger consumers with positive images and opportunities in a celebrated diverse community.  The younger generations want more than just hiring practices or marketing strategies; they want to see functions and business change to match their message.

All around the world, business is embracing this strategy. The SIMs video game, which has been creating a virtual world of life simulation for over two decades, recently released its latest update: Now players can create visual images of themselves that reflect all of them.  Medical wearables, like hearing aids and diabetic glucose monitors are now an option. Binders, top surgery scars and shapewear help create a safe, inclusive environment for transgender players seeking connection.

In Peru, where just 23% of blind people can find employment, a sunglass modeling agency employs models with low or no vision who now can “make themselves seen.” Who better to be working in the sunglass industry than people who use this product every day? Ray-Ban has shown interest in adopting the practice.

Inspired by persons with disabilities, Arisa Okumura, a Japanese businesswoman, creates pop-up cafes with servers who struggle with stuttering.  The café creates an opportunity for customers to come prepared with patience, empathy, and purchasing power, as they are exposed to persons who have gifts they might have previously viewed as deficits.  In the hospitality industry, which struggles to maintain its workforce, why wouldn’t we provide real jobs for real people?

In Canada, connecting persons with disabilities with paid employment has just become easier. The Canadian Down Syndrome Society recently launched a platform on LinkedIn connecting job seeker with employers on its “Inployable” network. Finding a job shouldn’t rely only on word of mouth or an ad in a local newspaper: Digital connection is how employment advertising thrives.  Without a presence on such platforms, a large community of future employees is excluded.

Interested in destigmatizing people and, instead, celebrating them for their contributions to the community, the next generation is moving inclusion forward through their pocketbooks. All over the world, businesses recognize the growth opportunities for their companies and brands in such practices.   Imagine where this will go in the next 5-10 years, when equity and inclusion are no longer “something nice to do” but have become the only way forward!  

Enjoy the full articles here:
LinkedIn. Inployable.
Londono, Laura. “Innovation of the Day,” December 7, 2022.
More fixes, more new content, and more console,” January 31, 2023.
Veenstra, Jennifer. “Authentically inclusive marketing,” October 19, 2021.

Our Workforce Needs Visual Thinkers

Nan Nelson, Envision Board member and Economic Transformation Signals Team

Envision’s Economic Transformation Signals Team has been looking for signals related to the future of our local economy.  Among the issues on our domain map are:

  • the changing demographics of the workforce and organization leaders
  • technological developments affecting our main economic sectors
  • the local entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem
  • changing work/life patterns

We’re finding a great many signals of big change on the far horizon!  In fact, so many that the team has decided to narrow our search focus for the time being to technological developments, while still keeping an eye on other areas of interest.

One such “other” intriguing signal recently surfaced in the area of workforce diversity and skill sets needed in the future: a new book by the famous animal-handling expert Temple Grandin called Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns and Abstractions.

Grandin, herself a visual (and autistic) thinker, makes the case for widening the neurodiversity of all work teams by recognizing the value of visual thinkers. Science writer Steve Silberman calls the book “a powerful and provocative testament to the diverse coalition of minds we’ll need to face the mounting challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Many large firms are beginning to recruit autistic individuals for their ability to concentrate and master detailed work such as computer coding.  Other organizations have long valued those who can think in patterns of abstraction described by mathematics. 

But Grandin contends that our increasingly verbal education system sidelines not only these thinkers, but also screens out “object visualizers” like herself.  Young visual thinkers like drawing, building with toys like Legos, and are “good with their hands.” But today, hands-on learning has been scrubbed from the school curriculum—no more shop, home ec, art, theater, welding, auto mechanics, etc. Grandin, herself a PhD professor of animal science, said she was screened out of college initially by an inability to master algebra and calculus, something typical of visual thinkers. As a result, America, she contends, is losing technical skills essential to the future of manufacturing, construction, design and engineering.

Grandin’s book goes on to detail studies that show how diverse thinkers advantage teams and how real-world disasters like Fukushima and the Boeing 747 MAX result from the absence of visual thinkers on work teams.

How can you tell if you’re a visual thinker? She suggests an interesting shortcut to determining where you fall on the visual-verbal spectrum: You buy a piece of furniture and are ready to put it together.  Do you read the instructions or follow the pictures?

Shouldn’t your organization’s employee recruitment program include a neurodiversity element? 

The Shift in World Economic Power

By Judy Nagel, Envision Board Member and Upward Mobility Signals Team

Could the Indian and Chinese economies outpace the economies of the United States and Western Europe? Economic analysts say yes. Projections show the U.S. percentage of world GDP shrinking from 16% to 12%, with China’s share growing from 16% to 27% and India’s GDP growing from 7% to 16%. (These new levels are anticipated by 2100.)

So how is this possible? Currently China’s and India’s productivity growth lags behind that of the United States, but, if Chinese workers were as productive as American workers, China’s GDP would exceed the U.S. GDP by a factor of 4.3. Because this analysis is based on productivity and demographics, however, immigration growth would boost the U.S. economy in the long term.

Economists cited in “Will China and India Become the World’s Top Economies? It Depends” take note of – and exception to – a 2019 study that positions the U.S. as “the end-of-century economic kingpin.” Another perspective these authors offer puts India in the lead by 2100. Why? Because India’s population will be double that of China but with the same labor productivity. They characterize the possible position of the U.S. by century’s end as “particularly grim,” and suggest that Western Europe could move from one of the world’s largest economies to one of its smallest.

The authors identify a variety of changes that could determine the actual “economic kingpin” at the end of this century, including reduction of legal immigration into the U.S. or China’s continued one-child policy along with its preference for less efficient state enterprises over a more efficient private sector. These are definitely early signals that the response from multiple players will determine future economic dominance.

For a summary as well as links to the specific reports cited, read this article from Forbes by Stuart Anderson, Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy.  

The Future Creates the Present: World Futures Day recalls “The Jetsons”

Both our keynote speaker, Thomas Frey, and the representative of our lead sponsor, Brian Stuelpner of Schneider, opened their remarks on March 1 with references to the 1960s animated cartoon series, The Jetsons. We were reminded that the Jetsons lived in something looking suspiciously like the Seattle Space Needle (which didn’t yet exist), used robot vacuums and smart phones, and even participated in “Zoom calls” on flat-screen TVs. What to make of it all? With that opening, our 300+ guests at the KI Convention Center were mesmerized with signals of what the future holds and the evidence of developing trends. The eye-popping, inspiring presentations were punctuated with regular audience discussion and participation and great networking.

Click here for the complete article.

Problems in Disguise: Gifts from the Pandemic

Randy Van Straten, Envision Board member and VP, Business & Community Health, Bellin Health

“What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems,” said John W. Gardner, former United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. This quotation aligns perfectly with my experiences in health care over these past three-plus years after completing the strategic foresight training program. This program helped me identify signals and trends by scanning the horizon, which then helped picture the most probable future – a chance to turn those insoluble problems into rich opportunities for Bellin Health.

Sometimes, timing is everything: Having completed the strategic foresight training and then heading straight into COVID-19 really helped when approaching some of the biggest health care challenges we have faced in our lifetime. As I set up my Google alerts during this time, the information flew in; this helped guide new contacts and innovative approaches to COVID-19 safety, testing, and vaccinations.  One primary example was the opportunity to participate in the Global Mass Vaccination Site Collaborative through Harvard. This led to guidance on important community breakthroughs in the fight against COVID-19. We learned to partner with employers, the Green Bay Packers, and the Brown County Health Department to deliver what our community needed: onsite COVID-19 testing at large employers; a drive-through testing and vaccination site in a former Sears Automotive Center; converting the Lambeau Field atrium into the largest vaccination site in the region; and repurposing a city bus into a mobile vaccination clinic to reach individuals in all areas of our community.  

Another success we achieved through “scanning the horizon” was creating Bellin’s Early Intervention Ergonomic and Rehab service.  This program totally flips the old way of providing rehabilitative physical and occupational services only after a referral or surgery is completed by a medical provider.  This Early Intervention and Rehab service is now offered directly to employees onsite or nearby and delivers hands-on care to individuals after only one or two days of onset of musculoskeletal issues without a referral, providing a 94-percent resolution rate with only six percent needing to go on to see a medical doctor.  This solution has reduced high-cost imaging volumes, surgery volumes, and medical costs over the last two years.

Lastly, and the new opportunity I am most excited about, was the design of a mobile medical screening truck and trailer that will provide onsite audiometric services, pulmonary and respiratory exams, and medical services  to employers and community groups.  This new rig will arrive at Bellin Health in late spring. Thanks to our scanning, we’ve been able to create and design a new service that will help elevate the health of the employees at our employer partners, big and small, city or rural, in a way that helps our employers provide safe and convenient services to their employees at work while creating production efficiency for the employers in a tight labor market. 

Now that Bellin Health has trained a few leaders and committed to scanning the horizon faithfully, I offer this advice to the community: Do not hesitate to get signed up for the next Strategic Foresight Training Session. After completing the training, you will have an immediate impact on your organization and find those key drivers of change that will determine which alternative futures your organization needs to take.  With this knowledge, you will more effectively plan your actions to influence your organization’s future rather than only react to problems. And as John W. Gardner says, take some insoluble problems and move them into breathtaking opportunities. See you in the future!

Looking Back at the Future

Jim Golembeski, Envision Board member

It started in the paper industry, a mainstay of the northeast Wisconsin economy. In 1996, the Scott paper company in Oconto Falls closed. That was followed by closings and mass layoffs at many area paper companies. The number of affected workers was soon in the thousands. Then the layoffs hit the manufacturing sector as well.

I remember well, because it was my job to provide employment and retraining services to those workers. I spent many hours in sessions full of middle-aged, gravitationally- challenged men whose world had turned upside down.  My poster child was Mirro Aluminum in Manitowoc, which closed in 2003, leaving 1300 men and women idle, a third of them at reading and math levels below fourth grade. It was an ugly time.

Two trends were developing, and we didn’t see them coming. First, sectors of our economy were entering a global marketplace. Countries that were finally recovering from the devastation of World War II and the dissolution of the Soviet Union brought tens of millions of workers into that global supply chain. Secondly, and equally important, was technological advancement: Computer applications and the Internet brought new tools into the workplace.  It was going to take more than a high school education to operate a $200 million paper machine.

We did not see those trends coming. It was also the beginning of the Baby Boom retirement movement, and our workplaces were becoming more generationally diverse.  We discovered that Gen X and the young Millennials had work and life values different from Boomers.

Nancy Armbrust, VP of Community Relations at Schreiber, had given my board chair, Paul Linzmeyer, a book entitled The Rise of the Creative Class by Dr. Richard Florida, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Paul read it, brought it to me a week later, and said, “Get him here.”

Dr. Florida had begun to articulate the seismic economic changes facing the American workforce; he was becoming a nationally recognized guru on adapting to those new realities.  In 2002, Senator Herb Kohl had secured a $1.2 million federal Earmark Grant for my organization, Bay Area Workforce Development Board.  That gave us some resources to start looking at the future. I also partnered with Wendy Seronko at Employers Workforce Development Network, a business-led group we had brought together.

On September 18, 2003, Dr. Florida and his team led a day-long “Creative Future Economy” workshop with three hundred business and community leaders at the brand new Lambeau Field Atrium. He addressed the trends we were experiencing around the overall theme of becoming a “Community of Choice” for talent. He gave us a new vocabulary and insight into our new economic realities.

Following up on the workshop, my colleague in the Fox Valley, Cheryl Welch, and I sponsored a major study, the NEW Economic Opportunity Study, conducted by Northstar Economics; it became our game plan for moving forward. An implementation committee led by Kathi Seifert (Kimberly Clark) and Bob DeKoch (Boldt) focused on bringing together the resources to implement the study recommendations.

That effort resulted in the creation of NEW North in 2005, which became the model for similar regional efforts in the state and remains the most successful of those efforts. It also led to a partnership between Bay Area WDB and NWTC to create NEW Manufacturing Alliance, an industry partnership that has won national and international awards for successfully promoting manufacturing careers.

In 2013, Bay Area WDB helped NWTC purchase the first of a fleet of mobile training labs to make technical skill training available throughout northeast Wisconsin. We soon integrated the first mobile lab, containing a CNC mill and CNC lathe, with our prison re-entry programs, giving 120 men and women at the Oshkosh and Taycheedah facilities a hands-on demonstration of manufacturing careers. Today, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections has its own fleet of five mobile manufacturing labs.

We were late getting into the game, failing to recognize the economic trends that should have been apparent at the end of the twentieth century. Once those trends became painfully obvious, we brought in Richard Florida and got buy-in from community and business leadership. We caught up quickly and are enjoying the fruits of our efforts in 2023. 

But what trends are developing now? What should we be planning for today?

First Robot Lawyer Defends Human Litigants

Nan Nelson, Board Member

The world’s first robot lawyer will soon defend a human in a speeding ticket case in an actual United
States court. The CEO of DoNotPay introduced his AI lawyer to the world in a January Twitter clip.  In this
video the company’s bot successfully negotiated a Comcast Internet bill with the Comcast Chat bot. 
Human observers noted that both bots were “a bit too polite.” Next up for the AI lawyer will be credit
card chargebacks, airline complaints and Amazon returns, the CEO said, noting the service will be
publicly available soon.  More complicated cases like parking and speeding tickets, appealing bank fees
and suing robocallers will be available next.

Click here to read, “World’s First Robot Lawyer to Defend Human in Speeding Ticket Case in US”