O ne of the major challenges in developing regional innovation clusters comes in defining and setting priorities for collaborative investments.

Here’s a simple solution.

Have participants in the cluster rank investment options according to two dimensions: one on return, one on risk.
For each investment option, ask participants two questions:

  • First, how big an impact is the co-investment likely to have. Rank on a five point scale (1= low; 5 = high)
  • Second, how difficult will this co-investment likely to be to implement. Rank on a five point scale (1= easy; 5 = hard)

Here’s a simple graphic you can use to rank your alternatives. Remember, these investment rankings change over time. As you learn more about an investment alternative, your assessments of risk and return will shift. That’s the essence of conducting an agile strategy in an open network: embedding new learning and insights into continuous strategic assessments.

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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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