Paul Zukowski: Grow Wisconsin – A plan is nothing without good execution

This content appears courtesy of Corporate Report Wisconsin, Wisconsin’s monthly statewide business magazine.

By Paul Zukowski

You hear it a lot in sports, how they were able to stick to the game plan and execute on the fundamentals. In business, the discussions of strategy and execution are not so public, but there’s a final score — a bottom line — that usually reveals how well the planning and execution was carried out.

Government is probably more like sports than business in the sense that government actions are carried out under intense public scrutiny. At Corporate Report Wisconsin, as the only statewide business magazine, we are keen on what government is doing that can affect business, pro or con. From taxes to highways to permits, government has a lot to do with how we all do business.

Once a year, Corporate Report takes a special look at Wisconsin’s economic development picture. This year that involved interviewing Gov. Jim Doyle about his plan to boost the state’s economy called “Grow Wisconsin” and asking our readers to comment on the plan through an online survey.

Our survey revealed that 65% of the respondents had heard of the Grow Wisconsin plan, so the governor still has some work to do there. Only 35% of the respondents were aware that the governor had held economic growth round-table discussions with business people to prepare the plan. And as might be expected, only 3% said they had participated in the discussions.

There was wide acceptance of the goals of Grow Wisconsin. The devil will be in the details. Which brings me back to execution. If Gov. Doyle is the quarterback, he has a strong running back in Dept. of Commerce Secretary Cory Nettles, a former corporate lawyer who often speaks of the importance of “blocking and tackling” the details to get things done. Nettles will carry the Grow Wisconsin ball, and hold his agency and others accountable for accomplishing the objectives.

Nettles and Doyle have a long season ahead and a bureaucratic backfield to penetrate. Everyone in Wisconsin will be keeping score on the economy. The measure of this administration could very well be its ability to put Wisconsin in the winning column and keep it there.

Corporate Report Wisconsin readers comment on the Grow Wisconsin plan — and a lot else!

At the end of our online reader survey about Gov. Doyle’s Grow Wisconsin plan we put an open-ended comment box and invited participants to comment on governor’s efforts to help the Wisconsin economy. We published an edited selection in our March 2004 issue, and here are the unedited comments:

(We did remove any names or other identifying information.) Thanks to all our readers who took part in the survey, and special thanks to the 173 who took the time to write a comment. Your concern for Wisconsin’s economy and insight on the many aspects of trying to grow it were a delight to read.

— Paul Zukowski, editor