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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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Replacing strategic planning with agile strategy

In a world that is becoming more complex, turbulent and less stable, our traditional approach to strategy – – strategic […]

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 […]