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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 globally connected world, isolation is a choice. If you want to face the turbulence ahead by yourself, go ahead. But that’s probably not your best option. You always have the opportunity to connect. The choice […]

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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 university, her team had little to show for it. A relatively small initiative involving 30 students was underway, but little else. When I asked her to describe this process, her strategy, she eloquently explained how […]

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Innovation districts: Simple guidelines

For those of us who have been around a while, the new push to regenerate cities with innovation districts appears like yet another fad. But is it? Clearly, Brookings, the major proponent of the shift doesn’t think so. Veterans in economic development have a right to be skeptical. After all, we’ve seen metropolitan business plans. Before […]

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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 the NSF-funded Epicenter project, specifically the Pathways to Innovation component. Tom Byers from Sanford and others authored an article for Summer 2013 issue of The Bridge, a publication of the National Academy of Engineering, that […]

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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 a $5.6 million dollar award to support the Institute’s first initiative, MarketShift, a statewide cluster development effort in defense and aerospace. Strategic Doing provides a key framework for the new NJII. NJIT’s MarketShift initiative includes […]

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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 year, I have been developing an approach with our colleagues at Fraunhofer to apply market-tested principles of innovation to Purdue. As the article notes, the Obama Administration is using the Fraunhofer model as a template […]

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Moving past gridlock: A path forward to reshaping our democracy

Our politics is a mess. Thirty years of increasingly partisan wrangling has left Congress incapable of taking on any complex policy task. Sadly, there is little prospect of escaping these ideological wars anytime soon. Partisan differences are growing, not shrinking. Over the past three decades, ideologues have seized control of our democracy and run it […]

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Visualizing regional innovation ecosystems: A high level perspective

Depending on your purpose, there are multiple alternatives for visualizing regional innovation ecosystems. These visualizations are best seen within the context of a strategic purpose. In other words, “What strategic outcome are you trying to achieve and how would a drawing help you?” This afternoon, I have been adapting a high level visualization initially presented […]

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Confronting complexity: Can we distinguish the simplistic from the simple?

A column by NYT’s Nicholas Kristof touched a nerve in the academy, when he suggested that academics had “walled themselves off”. Reaction from the academy is neatly summarized in this Harvard Press blog post. In my own view, both sides have it right. Our challenge is to distinguish the simplistic from the simple. The simplistic […]

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Here are my take-aways from the Global Innovation Summit 2014

Here are some of my takeaways from the Global Innovation Summit that I attended in San Jose last week, a fantastic event. Before you go any further, though: Pull out your January 2015 calendar and mark down on January 1: Attend Global Innovation Summit 2015. I’m taking these observations from my notes, so apologies if […]

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The growing popularity of Strategic Doing: Some questions answered

As the popularity of Strategic Doing grows, we are encountering some questions that deserve answers. Where has Strategic Doing worked? On places where Strategic Doing has worked, we have a number of good examples: We used Strategic Doing in a 14 country region in North Central Indiana to develop a wide range of workforce development innovations, many […]

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7 keys to guiding an open network

Since the railroads introduced them in the 1870’s, hierarchical organizations have dominated our economic landscape. They have shaped our thinking and behavior. Now that is changing. Open, loosely joined networks are emerging as significantly more important to creating value, accelerating innovation, and promoting sustainability. But how do we design and guide open networks? Many of […]

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Connecting technology development with market opportunities

Last week, I spent time with my Fraunhofer colleagues focusing on a particular challenge facing the pace and scale of innovation. The work in innovation management at Fraunhofer aligns well with the work we are doing at Purdue in the development of open, agile strategy. We are exploring how to combine these unique strengths into […]

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Re-imagining the economic development profession: What would it look like if…

Next week, I head back to work with our colleagues at Fraunhofer. As I prepare for the trip, I’ve been thinking about the future of the economic development profession. In the wake of the financial crisis and the near collapse of the financial system, hopes that the global economy would return to “normal” have faded. […]

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Strategic Doing in Australia: The Fraser Coast Fanatics take flight

Our Strategic Doing work in Australia continues to grow. The Fraser Coast Fanatics have formed and are storming ahead with […]

Economic Development Policy: Moving from incentives to co-investment

So much of our obsession with economic development in local and state government focuses on incentives. By some accounting, state […]

Universities as Anchors for Regional Innovation Ecosystems

In the midst of all the political gridlock in Washington, it’s easy to become cynical about the long-term competitive prospects […]

The emergence of Strategic Doing: Strategy for open, loosely joined networks

Conventional approaches to strategic planning do not work well to meet the complex challenges we face today. The reason is […]

Distinguishing innovation ecosystems from entrepreneurial ecosystems

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring the challenge of improving the productivity of the ecosystem surrounding a research […]

Developing the Next Alaska: Plugging Leaks and the Long Tail Economy

Alice Rogoff, Publisher of the Alaska Dispatch, asked me to put down some thoughts on economic development strategies for Alaska. […]