Leadership skills for guiding regional innovation clusters

O ver the weekend, I began thinking about the new skills that civic leaders need to guide regional innovation clusters. Here’s my list so far.

  1. Crossing boundaries and integrating diverse people and activities in a team.– On a personal level, the skill involves thinking outside your box and working in a team with people from other organizations. Our organizational level, question is whether the organization promotes and rewards people who work across organizational boundaries.
  2. Mapping assets and drawing systems.– In a network, new opportunities emerge when we link assets together. Visual literacy is important, because the world is too complex to describe in writing. Systems thinking opens the door to strategy by pointing us to leverage points.
  3. Sharing information and promoting continuous learning.– Networks thrive on information, and sharing information can lead to faster learning. In contrast, hoarding information slows down learning, as well as our ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
  4. Communicating with transparency and interactive technologies.– Communication in a transparent world places a premium on authenticity. Transparent communications does not mean that everybody knows everything. It does, however, impose heavy costs on withholding of material information and, worse still, deception. Increasingly, an understanding and mastery of the interactive tools of the Internet will drive leadership effectiveness.
  5. Understanding metrics and measurement.– In the industrial world that we are leaving, metrics provided a primary tool of management control. In the network world that we are entering, metrics play a different role. They become a key tool of learning, so we can quickly identify what works.
  6. Designing scalable experiments leading to sustainable outcomes.– In a continuously changing economy, experiments offer the only way to test out different ideas. Yet, not all experiments are created equal. Economic transformation comes from successful experiments that can be easily repeated, scaled and sustained.
  7. Guiding strategic collaborations.– Effective leadership will demand new skills for guiding sophisticated collaborations undertaking complex projects. Leaders will need a new set of strategy skills beyond the traditional frameworks of strategic planning.
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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