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Designing platforms to design ecosystems

Ecosystems form on top of platforms. Ecosystem design starts with platform design.  By designing the platform and guiding interactions on the platform, ecosystem builders can encourage the formation of productive networks that link and leverage assets across the ecosystem.  Collaborations self-organize on the platform. Platforms provide a valuable approach to convening willing participants in a […]

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Start-up and innovation ecosystems: Testbeds

It’s no surprise that academic research often lags behind market developments (Brown & Mawson, 2017). What if, to help us close this gap, we thought of practitioners and policy makers as researchers? What if we consider them not users of research but co-producers? Sound strange? It shouldn’t. This trend is underway in the agricultural sector. […]

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The shiny attraction of tax cuts

Years ago, as I was working on consulting teams, we helped companies like GE globalize their production. That meant moving jobs out of the U.S. The only way for the U.S. to adjust to this new global world involved making investments to upgrade the skills of people that were inevitably displaced. That required a dramatic […]

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Our out-dated thinking about communities

Our traditional approach to community development no longer works. Consider these facts: The opioid crisis is overwhelming our capacity to respond with traditional thinking. In Indiana, for example, 11 separate state agencies barely know each other. None are capable of providing a clear picture of what’s happening across the state. Each year, over 4,300 youths […]

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To go 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 […]

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, […]

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; […]

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. […]

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 […]