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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 a game invented in Mississippi in the 1930s. It goes something like this. (Apologies in advance to those offended by some small amount of sarcasm.) Make a quick assessment of your economy to figure out your […]

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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 What and Why: What are clusters and Why are they important. Not so much useful has been written about the How. The reason is obvious. Designing and guiding new clusters involves complex systems of open, […]

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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 relative competitive position in manufacturing will not come easily. Years of manufacturing decline have eroded the “industrial commons” on which globally competitive manufacturing depends. The networks within the industrial commons resemble an “ecosystem” that speeds […]

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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 of knowledge into value (or money) — emerges from continuous knowledge flows. Unfortunately, these knowledge flows can be easily blocked in multiple ways. Taken together, these knowledge flows form an “ecosystem”, networks embedded in other […]

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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 museum shows the importance of these towns to the history and culture of Mississippi.) To introduce Strategic Doing, our colleagues developed a new version of Strategic Doing: The Game. Based in Sweet Tea, Mississippi, the […]

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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 when they are executed, the results from traditional strategic planning are not very strong. This is not a new insight. Noted strategy theorist Henry Mintzberg pointed this out 20 years ago in his book, The Rise […]

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Conducting strategy with difficult people

When we introduce ideas around agile strategy, some folks get stuck on how the jerks will react.  For example last week someone asked, “What happens when you encounter loud, obstinate people? Don’t they simply disrupt the process?” The answer is, of course, “Yes, if you let them.” One of the beauties of our democracy is […]

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Moving from strategic plans to strategic action plans

In the last month, I’ve encountered two situations in which the conventional approach to strategy has broken down. Strategic planning, as a management discipline, emerged from operations planning during World War II. The process is top-down, linear, logical, heavily analytic. The problem, of course, is that our organizations and our economies don’t function this way. […]

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Replacing strategic planning with agile strategy

In a world that is becoming more complex, turbulent and less stable, our traditional approach to strategy – – strategic planning – – becomes increasingly less reliable and effective. The alternative is agile strategy, a lean process of creating and capturing value through learning by doing. In complex environments, strategic planning doesn’t work very well […]

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Some thoughts on strategy in a world of open networks

Over the years, I have collected a number of thoughts on developing strategies in a globally connected world. In a […]

Overcoming the tyranny of stakeholders

An academic leader recently connected with me, frustrated. After two years of trying to implement large-scale system change within her […]

Innovation districts: Simple guidelines

For those of us who have been around a while, the new push to regenerate cities with innovation districts appears […]

Transforming engineering education with Strategic Doing

With my colleague Scott Hutcheson, I’ve been working with Stanford and the National Collegiate Inventors and Educators Alliance (NCIIA) on […]

Testing our approach to Innovation Acceleration in New Jersey

In April, the New Jersey Institute of Technology launched the New Jersey Innovation Institute. In July, the Department of Defense announced […]

Adapting the Fraunhofer model to the US market: Innovation ecosystems

This morning a friend shared an article that triggered some thoughts: Behind Germany’s Success Story in Manufacturing For the past […]