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Strategic Doing: Handling Dancing Landscapes

Over on our massively open online course (MOOC) introducing Strategic Doing, a student pointed to the work of Herbert Simon an economist and political scientist. I responded: “There is a lot of Herbert Simon’s work underlying this approach to strategy. As you know, Simon challenged the idea of rational economic behavior. He argued that in […]

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Confusing Technical and Adaptive Challenges

Companies get into trouble when their managers confuse technical and adaptive challenges. A technical challenge has a right answer. It involves linear thinking, root cause analysis,  and straightforward trial and error.  Fixing the bad carburetor on a car is a technical challenge. In contrast, adaptive challenges  have no clear solution. There is no protocol to […]

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Diversity Drives Innovation: Here’s How

We’re finding more and more value in the concept of “strategic diversity” – that is, the way in which team members’ cognitive preferences shape their roles on the team. Learning how to optimize that diversity can take your team from average to a true “innovating network” that can solve the toughest challenges. The AEM-Cube(TM) – developed by […]

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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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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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Developing a University’s Two Ecosystems

Universities can develop two distinct, overlapping ecosystems: one targets at start-ups; the second focuses on innovative companies. To date, most […]

Slowly Understanding the Impact of Globalization

In 1984, I joined a boutique consulting firm, an offshoot of BCG. We had two major clients: GE and Volvo. […]

Moving Toward Strategy as a Flexible Process

Strategy is dynamic. Different business units — positioned at different locations on the S-Curve — will face different strategic challenges. […]

Why Trump’s Talks with North Korea Failed

If you are familiar with the dynamics of collaboration, it’s easy to understand why Trump’s talks with Kim Jong-un failed. […]

What’s Next: Ecosystem Strategies

In the US, economic development over the last few months has focused on two big stories: Foxconn and Amazon. Wisconsin […]

Teaching Strategy Skills With Simulation Games

At our Lab at Purdue, we teach the multiple skills of complex collaboration with simulation games. Every organization is facing […]