Unbelievably, the all-time greatest winter Olympics medal producer is not Germany, Russia or the United States. Instead, it is the tiny country of Norway with only 5 million residents! Coming into Sochi, their 303 winter Olympics medals led #2 U.S. by 49. Furthermore, they have continued this tradition as the current Olympics overall medals leader. How is this possible?
One of the main reasons for this dominance is their culture, which favors the types of skiing that few others relish. Of Norway’s 303 medals prior to Sochi, 125 have come from either cross-country or biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and sharpshooting. This is rooted in their agrarian culture with cities very close to the wilderness. Furthermore, Norwegian children are encouraged to play outdoors even during the coldest days. This contrasts with neighboring Sweden with double the population, but centered far from the wilderness. Therefore, Swedish children tend to play more indoor winter sports such as tennis or hockey resulting in only 129 total winter Olympics medals!
How can the U.S. benefit from these achievements in order to increase our research & development, engineering, scientific, IT and technical jobs? One key lesson we can learn from the Norwegian Olympic success is specialization. There is no way we can revive all the manufacturing fields we have lost. For example, as you may have read in one of my last articles http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/where-will-the-motorola-engineers-go Lenovo acquired Google’s cell and smart phone business that they purchased only 22 months earlier from Motorola. This is a very tight margin industry that we may not be able to compete in. However, we should formulate technical recruitment teams to research and share their findings on which fields to focus on with the optimum combinations of national importance and high growth potential. Then the local, state and federal government should offer incentives to startup companies in those key fields.
With only 187,000 new jobs created in the last two months, our economy needs a major “shot in the arm”. Following the Norwegian model of Olympic focus can provide that explosion to vault our R&D, scientific, engineering, IT and technical industries back into worldwide dominance resulting in exponentially more jobs for our economy.
What is your opinion?