The Agile Strategy Lab Podcast

Culture: The Key to Thriving Ecosystems - and How to Tackle It

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.

What Happens When You Stop Saying “If Only”?

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. 

Can Agile Strategy “Fix” What’s Wrong?

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. 

For Your Consideration: Seven Great Books We Read in 2020

For an end-of-year roundup, members of the Agile Strategy Lab team reflect on the best book they read this year. It's a potpourri of genres, including business books, fiction, and history (both US and world). Start your list for 2021. No need to take notes: the full list can be found at

Tailoring Strategic Doing to Fit for Entrepreneurs

One of the conversations that has woven through Strategic Doing over the past few years has had to with its use in an entrepreneurial context - both by entrepreneurs, and by people who are focused on building an entrepreneurship ecosystem in their community or region. Even within a single state, however, entrepreneurs' needs can vary tremendously - and the Strategic Doing approach need to be tailored appropriately for different audiences. In this episode, Lauren Goldstein from New Mexico State University talks about her work with a wide range of entrepreneurs in very different kinds of communities - both within and outside the university setting.

“Be Prepared” - Getting Ready for Unexpected Challenges

"Be Prepared" is the motto for scouting worldwide, but it applies to all of us. In a year in which it seems as though our world was prepared for very little, we focus in one community, and how their civic preparedness is serving them well. Iowa City is no stranger to extreme challenges - floods, catastrophic winds, and the pandemic - and that's just in the past few years. Tom Banta of Iowa City Area Development talks about the investments they're making in a different kind of emergency preparedness.

Cognitive Diversity: The Secret to Successful Teams

Among the many kinds of diversity, one of the most critical is largely invisible: cognitive diversity. In a dynamic environment, when you don’t know exactly what the right path forward is, you need a team with members that approach the world differently. This episode brings very practical advice to this challenge, as Sebastian Hamers from the Dutch firm Human Insight, discusses cognitive diversity and how to measure and manage it. 

The Role of Trust and Vision in Organizational Strategy

In this episode, we speak with John Morley. The breadth of John’s professional experience - across continents, sectors, and business phases - gives him a unique vantage point from which to think about the concepts of trust, vision, and strategy. 

Our Stories - and Their Stories: the Power of Community

In this episode, we’re delving a bit murky, although we see its outworkings it all around us. What is it that’s going on when a person chooses to be part of a community? Why do we form communities, and how do they shape our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors? And what happens when very different communities try to talk to one another? In this episode, you’ll hear from Will Samson, the Vice President of Strategic Growth and Change for Inzet, a coaching and consulting firm in the Washington, DC area.

The Role of Civility in “What’s Next?”

Last week’s US presidential election seemed like a good opportunity to visit a topic that’s at the heart of agile leadership:  creating a space - both literally and figuratively - in which people can have open, deep and focused conversations. If we aim for a nice, friendly, or polite conversation - those goals aren't enough when the people that most need to have conversations with each other have very different, deeply held convictions. But there’s an alternative - civility.

In this episode, we hear from Ed Morrison, the director of the Agile Strategy Lab at the University of North Alabama. Ed’s spent three decades helping people have important but difficult conversations in the service of better futures for their organizations and communities, with civility as the bedrock. 

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