It’s Time to Discuss Good News!


By Jeff Burnstein, RIA President

I’ve lived in the metro-Detroit area my entire life.  Years ago I stopped watching local television news.  Why?  Because it seemed that for the first ten minutes every night the only news was bad news (murders, drugs, fires, etc.). I”m not suggesting that  news coverage is to blame for all of Detroit’s ills or its poor national reputation, but it certainly hasn’t helped.  Most people would never know that there are tons of great things about Detroit (it’s one of the most chairtable cities, the metro area has some of the nicest suburbs in the country, it has great dining and entertainment options, etc.)

What makes bad news “news”?  Can’t good news be news, too? 

Look at the way we currently cover financial news in America.  Declining stock prices, rising unemployment, collapsing home prices, cratering consumer confidence.  Day after day, the drumbeat continues.  Is this the whole story?  What about the good news?

For instance:
*Housing affordability is at the highest level since the National Association of Realtors began tracking this in 1970.
*Inflation is at a 50+ year low
*Automakers are increasing their efforts to build more fuel-efficient cars and American consumers now view this as a top priortiy when choosing a new vehicle (which has all sorts of positive ramifications for the enviornment).
*Money from the huge U.S. stimulus package is just now being released to the states.  It is intended to create or save at least 3.5 million jobs through 2010.
*Some skills are still in high demand, such as computer code writers, health care providers, chemical engineers, and research scientists.

Can some of these positive statistics be turned around into negative news?  Of course.  But, focusing only on the negative seems to be leading to a never-ending cycle of bad news.  I’m not suggesting we ignore bad news, but I am suggesting that we try to at least consider the long-term implications of the good news.

Eventually, the U.S. economy will recover.  People will start buying homes, cars, and consumer goods again.  Companies will start hiring.  The stock market will turn upward. 

Will we be ready?  Will our young people have the training necessary to serve the needs of industries that will be successful in the future?  Will our companies be ready with the products that users want to buy?  Will companies develop new technologies and apply existing technologies in ways that allow them to take advantage of future opportunities?

Thanks to the members of our associations, I was able to share some good news with our staff yesterday.  Despite the economic meltdown in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year, our final membership retention rates for the year 2008 topped 85%, nearly two percentage points better than in 2007!  By every measure 2008 was a record membership year for RIA and its sister trade groups (AIA and MCA).

Can we continue this isn 2009?  It will be tough, but if we continue to provide members with the benefits they want, we believe they will stay involved in their trade association. 

What benefits does your company want from a trade association?  Whether you’re a member of RIA or not, please weigh in on this discussion.  What three things would you like to see RIA provide your company to help you become more successful?  Feel free to leave a comment here or contact me directly at jburnstein@robotics.org

I look forward to your input and to helping you create “good news” in the future!

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3 Responses to It’s Time to Discuss Good News!

  1. SOME GOOD NEWS> The robot industry has depended upon the automotive business since the first Unimates were bolted to the manufacturing floor on a final assembly line. With it’s decline, suppliers are becoming more diversified and innovative applying their knowledge into new application areas related to clen technologies. This is a GOOD THING!

  2. jeffburnstein says:

    Jeff:
    I agree, it’s great that new applications are emerging in clean technologies. But, let’s not give up on automotive yet. It’s down now, but some observers predict that if the Detroit 3 survive, they will thrive when car sales return to normal levels in the future due to their reduced cost structure. This will create big future opportunities for robots, vision, etc. And, these opportunities extend well beyond North America, as demand for cars grows in nations like India, China, and Russia.

  3. Dan Hasley says:

    YES! We’re seeing new opportunities with robotic applications in aerospace, solar, structural steel, and even automated low-volume production. These new applications will be here when the automotive business rebounds – adding to everyone’s success. Keep on a strict diet of very little bad news and keep focused on the future.

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