What makes good strategies?

  • To be effective should a strategy process be “open” with a lot of participation, or more closed to keep it focused?
  • How can a strategy balance long term vision with short term wins?
  • Are metrics important for control, or should we think of metrics more as a tool for learning?

All important questions.

Scott Hutcheson, a Purdue colleague, is in the midst of an interesting research project for his Ph.D. He is exploring the underlying dynamics of successful economic development strategies at the community and regional level. He’s looking for experienced practitioners to participate in this research, and I am asking for your help.

Here’s why it’s important.

Our economy is undergoing a fundamental shift, and we need to gain some important insights into how effective economic development strategies can be designed and executed. Scott’s research will generate some of these insights.

  • So, for example, how open or closed should a strategy process be? In traditional strategic planning, the process is designed and led typically by one organization. Can a more open process be successful?
  • How adaptive should strategies be? Again from a traditional perspective, strategic plans look three to five years out and rarely change. A more adaptive strategy might be a better approach, but too frequent changes could lead to confusion and ineffectiveness. Can a strategy be both adaptive and effective?
  • Should strategies be oriented toward fixing problems or pursuing opportunities? Some practitioners suggest that that asset-based strategies that suggests this  more productive. Are they? Can an effective strategies also be oriented to fixing problems?

If you are an experienced economic development practitioner, I encourage you to participate in this research project. After Scott completes his research, he and I will prepare a presentation that will summarize these findings and what they mean for practitioners.

To participate, go to this link on the Purdue servers.

What to Expect:

  1. You will be asked about one strategy initiative in which you have been involved. 
  2. You will be asked to characterize this initiative along different dimensions.
  3. You will invest about 5 minutes of your time.

Disclosures: If you want more detail on disclosures, Karen Fasimpaur has posted these disclosures at her blog.

Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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