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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. For GE, we assisted the appliance division and their small motor business understand how to globalize their manufacturing. We used a methodology similar to this one. We would start with a detailed analysis of our […]

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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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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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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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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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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 […]