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Ronald Reagan’s famously said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” This hits home with a unique blend of humor and truth. Having spent the first half of my career navigating the intricacies of the Department of Defense (DoD), I’ve witnessed the impact – positive and negative – of policy changes, regulatory activities, bureau-crazy, and the application of taxpayer funding on businesses.

In both government and business realms, decision-makers grapple with the challenge of balancing good intentions with practical outcomes. It’s not about vilifying individuals; rather, it’s an acknowledgment that dedicated people make daily decisions, often working with the constraints of available resources. Not everyone emerges victorious from these decisions, and this reality extends beyond bureaucratic walls into the corporate landscape.

Decision-makers are responsible for educating themselves on the details and potential impacts of their choices. As a DoD program manager, this often meant attending conferences, engaging with industry experts, visiting industrial sites, and approaching each conversation with a healthy sense of curiosity. Time and capacity constraints were a constant hurdle.  To reference one of my favorite Far Side comics, my brain was perpetually full.

Transitioning to The Barnes Global Advisors (TBGA) has provided me with a new vantage point on the same challenge. We continually have the opportunity to inform decision-making in both government and private sectors, particularly in the realm of additive and advanced manufacturing investments. The order of operations becomes crucial in this equation. We initiate the process by identifying the problem, followed by an extensive effort to educate our clients on the nuances of the space. In the spirit of another Gary Larson creation, it’s like putting on your pants before your shoes.  We thrive in a teaming environment, where information is shared transparently, and decisions are made based on a profound understanding of the challenges and opportunities.  This year has already started off quickly, with our team jumping into multiple conversations regarding the opportunities ahead of us in advanced manufacturing.  We’ve seen the turn into optimistic calls for the future of additive manufacturing.

As I continue to seek to bridge the gap between government initiatives and industry realities, I am especially excited to be part of the upcoming Additive Manufacturing Strategies.  I’ll be moderating a panel on “Reshoring with Additive Manufacturing” featuring Jason Gorey of Astro America, Kristin Holzworth with the Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program (IBAS) and Roxanne Warren from Blue Forge Alliance. We’ll be discussing ways the U.S. Government and Industry are combining forces to tackle a very real set of challenges in the U.S., specifically related to national security and economic prosperity.  This is very timely as the DoD has just released its inaugural Defense Industrial Strategy, signaling its need for a modernized and expanded industrial capability and capacity.   In addition, TBGA will be leading a workshop titled “Finding the Value in AM” where we’ll be providing participants with a baseline approach to communicating the value of AM, leading to more informed decision-making in this market space.  Our team of ADDvisors® will share key learnings from our over 250 years of AM experience, as well as lead participants through a series of focused topical discussions around what to look for when considering AM-related investments.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”  As we launch into 2024 and beyond, I hope you’ll join me in seeking to advance informed decision making relative to advanced manufacturing investments.  Let’s not stand still or make assumptions that result in poor decisions and unintended consequences that take us in the wrong direction.  Let’s press for a united and productive conversation across government and industry that results in achieving goals we never could have imagined possible.  And let’s have some fun while we’re at it.

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