Michigan has become a right-to-work state. Wait, Michigan? The home of the sit down strike in the late 30s that led to the unionization of the auto business is now a right-to-work state? To me, growing up in a blue collar, heavily union suburb of Detroit, this is still big, shocking news.
I attended last week’s Mackinac Policy Conference and came home a bit shell-shocked about changes occurring in the state. New entrepreneurial start-ups around raw juice, mobile apps and energy management solutions seem much more likely in my current city of Austin than from the Detroit area. The auto business is healthy, growing and hiring, a big swing from just a few years ago.
To the mostly local Michigan attendees at the conference, none of this is surprising. They’ve been living with the new realities of their community for a few years now. It’s the outsiders who have largely missed the transformation that Michigan has made since the state was headline news for corporate bankruptcies, bailouts and devastated real estate markets during the 2008-2009 downturn. In recognition of this issue, one of the items on the Mackinac Policy Conference to-do list was to better communicate this transformation and promote the Detroit region as a growing and vibrant IT and entrepreneurial hub.
Convincing the world that you’ve changed is a challenge. At Dell, we are learning this firsthand as we have gone through our own transformation to become a full service IT solutions provider, yet we are still working hard to make sure everyone knows it. We’ve grown significant capabilities around software and services, yet the common perception of Dell is that we are still a pure notebook/desktop company. Changing this perception requires us to remain focused on delivering amazing solutions that represent the outcomes from our transformation, and then sharing these stories with our customers and all those who follow our company.
I returned to Texas full of Mackinac Island fudge and thoughts about the challenges of promoting positive change in a world where negative news grabs the largest headlines. My working conclusion is to take Dell’s perspective and focus more on fixing the problem than to sell it. Michigan’s best path to promoting its IT and entrepreneurial capabilities is to simply grow those capabilities, and soon they will be too big to not be noticed.
Dell is part of the Michigan community, and proud of it. We have a strong team of employees living throughout the state and we are proud to count many Michigan organizations as our customers. We love a good challenge, and appreciate the opportunity to help bring our new technology solutions to further help the Detroit region become a vibrant IT and entrepreneurial hub.
And can we tell you a secret? There’s more to Dell than notebooks and desktops…