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To move quickly, go slowly (at first)

I (re)learned a valuable lesson this week. We design and guide new networks to move quickly, to be come more agile. The paradox, however, is that you cannot rush the formation of these trusted networks. Let me set the stage. This week, a team from the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab traveled to NASA Ames Research […]

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Rebuilding our civic economy

Our future prosperity depends on developing new, collective habits of complex thinking together. At the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, we have introduced the concept of a “civic economy” to explain the importance of civility to our future prosperity. We have found audiences remarkably receptive to this new thinking. Our civic economy supports our market economy. […]

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Is Collective Impact transformative?

Ever since its debut in 2011, the concept of “Collective Impact” has offered the hope that citizens, acting together, can productively address the “wicked problems” confronting our communities. As set forth in their Stanford Social Innovation Review article, Kania and Kramer explained that collaborative initiatives will yield the collective impact if they meet five criteria: A […]

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Step 1: Creating new narratives

In the world of networks, narratives provide guidance. They convey knowledge. They generate learning. They create coherence. They reflect and spread the positive mindset needed for transformation and resilience. When confronting a complex regional transformation, we often focus first on the regional narrative: The stories people share with each other. This step involves seeking out […]

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Agile Strategy is Like Ocean Kayaking

Today, organizations of all types are facing an uncertain future. While we hope for calm times in which we can make steady progress, we know that turbulence can arise at any moment and throw us off course. Our journey is not unlike the ocean kayaker. Offshore breezes can fire up at any time, and they […]

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Connecting Collective Impact and Shared Value

Are the concepts of “collective impact” and “shared value” connected? If so, how? Consider first the case of collective impact. In their article in the Winter 2011 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review, John Kania and Mark Kramer explained the concept of collective impact by introducing us to StriveTogether, and extensive, yet focused, collaboration designed […]

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Innovating in a world of complex networks

Betting against the U.S. economy has never been a smart idea. Time and again, our economy has shown remarkable resilience to overcome major disruptions, collapses and failures. From the several panics of the 19th century through the Depression of the 20th, the national economy has regained its footing and moved to a new level of […]

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Getting on with designing “What’s Next”

Sadly, the world is never quite so simple as politicians would have us believe. Our politicians have, for some time now, been failing to address the real challenges we face. Democratic capitalism involves continuously balancing interests. Governments help us do that. A government, well functioning, complements the market. It serves individual appetites, our shared interests (e.g., […]

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It’s time for regions to start jumping the curve

Most economic development organizations rely on a standard pack of traditional economic development strategies: real estate and infrastructure development, regional marketing; business retention and expansion; support for entrepreneurs; workforce development. Yet, these traditional approaches face limitations in terms of impact. Because these activities tend to be organized functionally – or vertically – within the economic development […]

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Networks: A promising approach to poverty

Across the country, we are dealing with the consequences of the growing disparity in income between the rich and poor. How can we use new thinking about networks and collaboration to address these challenges? A promising pilot project has been underway for some years in Shreveport, Louisiana. Community Renewal International takes a decidedly different approach to the […]

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What’s next: Horizontal innovation

The next big transformation in economic development is coming. It’s about time. Remarkably, most economic development organizations are still playing […]

Learning more about the “How” of clusters

Ever since Michael Porter began promoting the concept of clusters in the mid-1990s, a lot has been written about the […]

Rebuilding our industrial commons

For over 30 years, U.S. manufacturing has been in relative decline in the face of relentless competitive pressure.  Rebuilding our […]

Moving our innovation thinking from barriers to ecosystems

Introduction Commercialization of federally funded research at universities faces a bewildering array of obstacles. The reason: innovation — the translation […]

Focusing on the future of small towns

Our colleagues at the University of North Alabama and Mississippi State have introduced Strategic Doing to four small towns. (This […]

Thoughts on the emerging practice of strategy

Strategy practices that emerged from WWII are increasingly inadequate to the task of guiding today’s organizations, communities and regions. Even […]