Like attracts like. Success breeds success. Industry clusters are a boon to economic developers because of their magnetic effect on other businesses in the same sector, and the supply chain. But what do you do if you don't happen to be fortunate to already have a biotech, food processing or aerospace corridor in your community?
You build one.
Ed Morrison, director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, has developed a convincing, innovative model for engineering dynamic clusters that make sense for the specific context of your regional economy. He does this with a clear system of steps that go beyond the slow, costly traditional methods of strategic planning. His approach aims to build intentional networks by teaching people how to collaborate quickly, move their collaborations toward measurable outcomes, and make adjustments along the way. He calls this "strategic doing" - accelerating network development in an intentional and disciplined way.
Strategic doing is different than the "analysis paralysis" methods of the past. It forms collaborations quickly by "linking and leveraging" assets across the network. As they do this, they also align them. Strategic doing presumes that the only way forward is to learn by doing, testing assumptions with pilot projects. This has the added benefit of forming bonds of trust more widely and quickly. To move quickly, they rely heavily on visualizations to illustrate complex systems and reduce confusion.
So how do regional innovation clusters form? You'll find a quick overview below, but to really understand what's going on and apply this knowledge in your community, you'll want to sign up for our free webinar with guest host Ed Morrison, October 11th, 1:30 - 2 p.m. EDT.
In a nutshell, clusters represent open innovation networks - spaces where companies that share a similar competitive space decide to form a network, develop a strategic agenda to address common issues, and make anchor investments. The Agile Strategy Lab has broken this down into a precise series of simple (though not necessarily easy) steps to incubate innovative and productive industry clusters:
- Shifting conversations
- Forming networks
- Putting together a strategic agenda
- Making anchor investments
- Continuous investment, adaptation and expansion as cluster grows and evolves