There has been a lot of recent communication about the opportunities for the state of West Virginia.
Dan McGinn is a nationally-known communications expert who has done work for the CEOs of many Fortune 500 corporations. He’s also a native West Virginian, from Nitro in Kanawha County. He recently penned a great Op/Ed piece published in the Gazette-Mail: “Imagining a New Future for West Virginia.” He believes that the state is in a critical crossroads. The state’s image to outsiders may stymie its growth and we need to change the state’s narrative – the stories we tell ourselves and others and the stories others tell about us. Part of the solution, he says, a new branding campaign; part is to be a national leader by tackling two wicked health problems – obesity and drug addiction; and part is to grow the state’s economy by growing the population base.
Although some may argue his approach, I think his observations are generally spot on.
Hoppy Kercheval, from MetroNews, wrote a thoughtful response to McGinn: “West Virginia’s Challenge.” He disagrees with some of Dan’s positions, but began his essay by thinking about opportunities and challenges for the state:
“I have this growing feeling that West Virginia is approaching a turning point, or even a seminal moment where the arc of our state will be determined for years to come.”
I think we are at an inflection point. Like Dan and Hoppy, I am convinced that we have a golden moment together to write our state’s future.
Jay Barney, a professor and business advisor, wrote 30 years ago that the only sustainable competitive advantage is cultural – complex interactions between people. Products can be mimicked, made cheaper, and made better. New technologies will be replicated. But people connected to great purpose give commitment voluntarily. Connected to the heart and not only to the brain.
A culture of collaboration, coordination, and connection is an amazing opportunity for a competitive advantage. Focusing on a root cause problems of declining population, lack of jobs and lack of hope for many citizens, lack of sufficient education and training for many to compete for available jobs, and population health are critical success factors for our state.
A golden moment and an inflection point for our state.
Can we make a difference? I believe we can.
We will rewrite the future so that West Virginia is a beacon for others to follow. Our success will be based on the strength, intelligence and commitment of our people and our ability to work together.
Together, we are connected to each other, to great purpose and to an opportunity to write the future of our state.
The stories of West Virginia will inspire hope, excellence and success.
This is a story worth telling.