The lessons of regional leadership are somewhat different from the typical leadership lessons you might read in a management book. Not much has been written about regional leadership -- how civic leaders can develop and manage complex projects in the open, loosely joined networks of our civic economy.
My Purdue colleague Scott Hutcheson has started an important conversation within the Purdue Center for Regional Development on the topic. He starts by looking closely at a valuable case study: How Julia Taylor and the Greater Milwaukee Committee has begun to change the development dynamics in Milwaukee and seven counties of Southeast Wisconsin -- the Milwaukee 7 region. Scott then applies insights from the academic literature on organizational change and leadership.
Some important proof points on the power of the GMC approach to leadership: In only a few years, Milwaukee has vaulted to a global leadership position in fresh water technologies, a large and growing market, with the Milwaukee Water Council.
As I read through Scott's analysis of Julia's work, here's how I would characterize the guidance Julia provides.
1. Influence builds as leadership develops the habit of translating ideas into action quickly
2. Influence builds as members of the network share recognition for their accomplishments
3. Influence builds as members of the network gain a sense of alignment and connection
4. Influence builds as members gain an appreciation of the power of networks to move quickly in a strategic direction
5. The Metcalfe curve matters: As a network becomes larger, more sophisticated and more capable, new opportunities for co-creating shared value emerge
6. Influence builds as leaders make clear their personal agenda and what's in it for them
7. Lean into the sharp points of potential opposition: Invite potential opponents to appoint members to an advisory team
8. Use this advisory team to overcome political obstacles to regional collaboration; rely on them early and often
9. To build trust, start small and build off early gestures of good will
10. Press on, regardless, to build leadership networks with strong cores and porous boundaries
More will follow as we distill what is going on in Milwaukee and how these lessons can be shared with other regions. It's a fascinating start to what is likely to be an important new field of study: Team leadership in regional economies.
Here's an update on our Strategic Doing activities over the past two weeks or so.
Tampa Bay Partnership
The Partnership, with the assistance of Stanford Research Institute, has completed a large strategy document that outlines options for the region. The Partnership is not developing an implementation plan, and they have turned to Strategic Doing as a framework to guide their next steps. On Friday, November 18, I conducted a workshop that introduced the concepts of strategy and open networks to about 20 civic leaders who have agreed to guide the 6 working teams. During the workshop, we explored how the disciplines of this Strategic Doing could be used to keep each working team on track, as well as define a common language across working teams.
After the workshop, we adjourned to a much larger annual meeting of the Partnership. About 480 people filled the ballroom. During a 15 min. presentation I emphasized how a relatively small group of people, working together and in a disciplined way, can transform a regional economy. I used Oklahoma City as my example. I also used our work in the Charleston Digital Cord or to explain how a city can develop and “entrepreneurial ecosystem” by using our portfolio model of civic innovation. You can download a copy of my presentation slides here.
Lake County, Florida
Lake County is a rural county on the northwest edge of the Orlando Metro region. A new economic development director pull together the 1st economic development summit in the County. About 100 people participated who represented a wide range of leadership in the County from schools and universities to local government officials and private business. The format of the meeting was a bit stiff, as it consisted of a series of speakers providing the leadership with an overview of economic development in central Florida. My presentation on Strategic Doing represented the last session of the day. Nevertheless, we got a good response from the audience. Here are the slides.
Linda Fowler and I have been working in the Space Coast––the eastern edge of the Central Florida region––and we have experienced the difficulties of establishing collaborations within the Central Florida region. I mentioned this problem in my presentation, and several people remarked afterwards that they appreciated my candor. It's always interesting to me how an outsider can point to such an obvious failing that no one in the region feels comfortable talking about.
Space Coast Clusters
Linda Fowler and I spent a day last week outlining the final report for our work with Space Florida and building clusters on the Space Coast. We are working with EMSI, who completed the data analysis of the Central Florida region. An interesting insight is emerging from this work. Analysis of existing clusters represents a look backward into an economy as its strengths have evolved. We are finding on the Space Coast that new opportunities are emerging as these established clusters overlap. So, for example, a new opportunity is emerging for defense firms in cyber security and health IT.
We are now finishing up some workshops that we will conduct in mid December and early January.
Our big success has been developing a new cluster in clean energy. The Space Coast Energy Consortium formed after a strategic doing workshop. You can watch a video to see how this cluster begin to form. You can download a presentation that Linda and I put together that explains how this cluster formed. It is another example of how we can use the disciplines of Strategic Doing activate new clusters.
Arizona: Solar Cluster
Todd Hardy at Arizona State University provided an update on their Arizona Solar Summit. You can see their website, which includes some videos. The Solar Summit presented participants with both panel discussions and active conversation around strategic options. Coming out of the summit, Arizona State University's team organized 4 working groups: supply chain and workforce development; applied research collaborations and pilot projects; policy and finance; and building a stronger narrative.
We used a participant's workbook that was delivered to each registrant prior to the event. I think it's a good practice that we can develop. I've used this workbook as a template to develop a similar workbook for the Wisconsin Rural Summit that will be held this Friday.
Todd indicated that ASU is providing the backbone organization to keep these working groups focused. 2 or 3 volunteer leaders have assumed leadership of each focus group. In addition, a large number of the participants at the Summit volunteered to join a working group. The working group leaders are now organizing their activities. They hold regular check-in calls every 2 weeks to keep each other informed of their progress.
Shreveport: Choice Neighborhoods
Kim Mitchell is continuing his work on the Choice Neighborhood grants into inner-city neighborhoods in Shreveport. The work is very difficult, primarily because the civic environment in Shreveport is so poor. He is facing continuous efforts to slow down or tear down the process that is building. Nevertheless, he's persevering. Last week, he conducted a successful training for civic leaders with our partner, Community Renewal International, who will help guide the process of defining and implementing collaborations within the neighborhoods. It is apparent to me that Kim is having some success. Otherwise, the established powers that control the city would not feel threatened by this work.
You can keep up with what is happening on his project web site here.
Kim and I are continuing to develop concepts of agile planning that provide the next generation of strategy frameworks for physical planning. Traditional planning models, which are rooted in the 1920s, treat the planning process as linear and fixed. In contrast, we are defining a discipline of physical planning that is agile and adaptive. This new approach changes the traditional role of the planner from the “expert draftsman” to a person who actively participates in community strategy development and provides guidance and resources to the residents of the neighborhood as they plan their future. Kim and I hope to have the next draft of our agile planning document ready for review in the next week or so.
Janyce Fadden has been spearheading three separate initiatives underway in Rockford. Some weeks ago, we began a strategy process with the board of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition, Rockford is undertaking a major transformation in its education system based on 5 key strategies. Tomorrow, they will announce the launch of these efforts. I will be providing the context of why education transformation is so critical 21st-century competitiveness.
Finally, the Mayor of Rockford has launched an impressive reform of how economic development and community development organizations in the city are financed. In the past, each organization received funding from separate line items that drew from different funding sources in the city budget. Now, the mayor and council have consolidated these funding sources into a centralized fund of about $3 million. He is asking the groups to come together and develop their own collaborative strategic action plan for the city. Funding decisions will then be presented to the mayor and the council in a unified fashion. This is a big challenge. Next week, in a 2 hour session, we will start the process of building these collaborations.
Wisconsin Rural Partners
Connie Lowden and her colleagues on the board of Wisconsin Rural Partners are designing a one day Summit event that focuses on applying strategic doing to build a stronger networks within Wisconsin. We will also be exploring how the Partnership can strengthen its voice by connecting to other rural networks nationally. You can download a draft of the agenda here.
We will be borrowing an idea that worked well with the Arizona Solar Summit. I have prepared a participant workbook that will introduce concepts that we will be using during our workshop. The participant workbook delivers a couple of important messages. We let participants know that the event they're about to attend is different from any summit they have attended in the past. We also want to use the workbook to capture information and insights. Like a strategic doing pack, the workbook becomes a “knowledge asset” to the network.
Alaska: Institute of the North and CTE
Laz Kozmon is continuing his work in Alaska. Last week he completed 2 milestones. He has been working with the Institute of the North to design a strategy for the Institute that strengthens its position in framing issues and building collaborations across Alaska. In addition, he has been working with the Career and Technical Education system in Alaska to develop an implementation plan for the strategy that the CTE system has designed. Much like Tampa Bay, the leaders of the CTE system spent nearly 2 years in developing a strategy. Once completed, however, they face the daunting challenge of implementation. This is where strategic doing and the disciplines it fosters can help. Laz is outlining how to move forward.
Maryland has released a new report that estimates the impact of its arts industry. You can read more about the report here and here. The study estimates that the total economic impact of the arts on the state's economy totaled about $1 billion.
Central New York civic leaders have produced an extensive strategy document in response to the governor's call for regional strategies across New York. Central NY -- one of ten regions in the state -- is competing for funding. By the measure of this strategy, the governor's approach has been able to galvanize strong strategic thinking within these regions.
Nevada has set a new strategic direction with the publication of a report by Brookings and Stanford Research Institute. The framework is built around three broad ideas: unify, regionalize and diversify. Now the challenge shifts to implementation. How will the state put these ideas into action?
Researchers in Illinois have compiled the Illinois Innovation Index as a series of monthly publications. The Index is designed to promote the use of innovation and entrepreneurial metrics in the Chicago metro and throughout Illinois.
The Tampa Bay Partnership is working on an impressive regional strategy. They have charted some possibilities for the future, and now they are turning to implementation. Today, I made a presentation to the Partnership's annual meeting. I explored how we evolved a new strategy discipline for open networks, the type of networks we need to develop and manage in the "civic space" within our regional economies. Here's the slide deck I used.