In this episode, we explore two key ideas. The first is one of the ideas we’re most fond of: the principle of starting small, but starting. Nowhere is that more true than in rural communities, where often a group seeking to make change is largely, if not entirely, made up of volunteers. In this episode, I talk with Rob O’Brian, a consultant whose work in Missouri includes this rural focus.
The second idea is something Rob encountered that's also a frequent theme in Strategic Doing: the element of surprise. There’s great potential in surprise, but it can also present the risk of stalling or even halting progress completely. In this case, Rob as well as the group he was working with encountered some unexpected twists and turns.
This week, we again feature futurist Rebecca Ryan in a short episode focused on the idea of what we call in Strategic Doing the S-Curve. Sometimes called a sigmoid curve, or a sine wave if you remember back to your pre-calculus class, S-Curves describe much of what we see in the world around us. Rebecca talks about the S-Curve - or as she calls it, the sine wave of entropy - as she discusses an idea called the three horizons. S-Curves overlap. We can see the one we are on, but there also was one preceding that, and there’s one ahead of us. In the three horizon model, the horizon behind us is the first horizon, or horizon 1. The one ahead of us is horizon 3. Listen as Rebecca talks about how that idea is playing out right in front of us, and what that means for our future.
We've all spent a lot of time over the last year saying, "Remember when...?" In this episode, we talk to a futurist, someone who is perpetually thinking not about what has come before, but about what things will be like is 10 years, in 30 years. Are we ready to do that yet? Futurist Rebecca Ryan says we’d better be. Rebecca works with organizations, communities, and regions using a tool called Strategic Foresight, to closely study signals in the environment that are clues to what might be coming, and then to align their efforts to a future they want - to take the initiative to shape the future rather then just letting it happen. Rebecca describes Strategic Foresight, as well as how it aligns with Strategic Doing.
In this episode, we explore coaching by talking to someone who uses Strategic Doing in his coaching practice with companies and their leaders. David Ducheyne is the founder of Otolith, a consulting firm based in Belgium that takes a people-oriented approach to its work with firms seeking to make major transformations. David notes that he’s often surprised at the extent to which management underestimates the talent in their own companies, and how slow they can be to embrace collaboration. Unblocking that resistance is often key to solving the problems that David’s been retained to help them solve. He's developed a novel solution to help them make the most of their greatest resource - their people.
Strategic Doing got its start more than two decades ago in the world of economic development. It’s since broadened to almost every domain and kind of organization - anywhere there are people who realize they need to find a way to get things done when there’s no one that can truly call all the shots. In this episode, we return to Strategic Doing’s roots, through hearing about the journey of one economic development organization,TexAmericas, in Texarkana - right on the border of Texas and Arkansas. It’s a place where collaboration is not an option, it’s an imperative. Eric Voyles, the Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer of TexAmericas, chose to use the Strategic Doing approach more than a year ago and we talk about what's happened since then and what's next.
As an exploratory approach to identifying and deploying potential solutions to problems, Design Thinking has a lot in common with Strategic Doing. Many Strategic Do-ers are interested in learning more about Design Thinking, and people steeped in Design Thinking are attracted by the Strategic Doing approach. In this episode, you'll hear a brief overview of the basics of design thinking, from José Lugo of the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez, and Lab director Ed Morrison's report on conversations with the Darden School of Business about how the groups might collaborate to solve big problems.
REPAIRED FILE - Wouldn't it have been useful to have a crystal ball at the end of 2019? Is there anything that we can do to get ready for disruptions - maybe not enormous ones like the pandemic, but those that still have the potential for major impact on our companies, institutions, or communities. In this episode, Doug Barrett, the director of the Center for Innovation and Economic Development at the University of North Alabama, shares the discipline of foresight, and how it can help us prepare.
As we look forward to rebuilding our communities in the coming months and years, we're confronted with renewing, if not rebuilding, entire ecosystems related to small and growing businesses. Those ecosystems can seem amorphous - the borders are fuzzy. Everything seems to have some impact on the whole. That’s the very nature of an ecosystem and it’s what makes it seem so daunting in trying to effect change. The fact is, ecosystems can’t be controlled. They can only be guided. In this episode, Andy Stoll, senior program officer at the Kauffman Foundation talks about what the foundation’s learned about entrepreneurial ecosystems, the critical leverage point for guiding ecosystems, and how agile strategy can be a tool for guiding their growth.
A key concept in agile strategy is the idea of tossing out “if only.” “If only” serves to keep us stuck, because it says that we’ve become victims of our circumstances. But we don’t have to view our situation that way. In fact, one of the lessons of the pandemic, because it’s stretched out so much further than we could have imagined last March, is that most of us haven’t had the luxury of ‘waiting it out.” We’ve been forced to think about alternatives, new ways to get to a desired outcome, or even choosing a new outcome to steer toward. In this episode, Lilly Cavanaugh, the executive director of the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission talks about not having "if only" as an option - and what happened after that.
The growing polarization of our society, manifested last week in the riots in the US Capitol - is truly what some people call a "wicked" problem - a term that refers not to any intent, but to an exceptionally complex nature that resists solutions. Rebuilding our civic and political life will require deep and focused conversations. In this episode the director of the Lab, Ed Morrison, reflects on what’s changed in our civic life in the last thirty years. The conversation took place the day before the riots, but his ideas can help us put the events in the context of agile strategy from a societal vantage point. You’ll also hear a bit about what it all might mean for an issue like the pandemic.