- Focus on competitiveness, not job creation
- Cluster-based, reflecting the core drivers of jobs and wages
- Build on existing and potential strengths, versus rely on reducing
- Develop an overall strategy rather than a list of actions
- Prioritized and sequenced, not treating all weaknesses equally
- Data driven, not political or based on wishful thinking
- Some regions don’t have strong leadership and lack any regional development plan, much less a shared vision. This is worst case scenario, but can be common
- Regions that have long standing clusters, but struggle to maintain their lead. They focus on keeping parity though this tends to ultimate lose the lead and invest enough in creating competitive advantage
- A region could focus on a new and emerging cluster, but that is a very competitive space. Success would really hinge upon the actual strength of regional assets to support that industry. This can be a very costly investment only to not sustain the lead in the long run against another region with inherit more advantages
- Regional investment in generic infrastructure can also be an expensive but unsuccessful strategy. Building generic industry parks, start-up spaces, and industry support systems can turn into a bust without a clear and focused plan.
- The opposite of generic infrastructure though would be an approach to build cluster specific infrastructure that creates a unique and differentiated assets for the region resulting in a clear competitive advantage. Example of these can be innovation center campuses that integrate industry, start-ups, universities, research parks, that have common infrastructure around shared labs, manufacturing, supply chain, education and commercialization.
- There can be more than one private firm involved. Regional transformation is an enormous, and though a shared vision is required, the work and easily and probably be better severed by a number of focused organizations that can sustain long term.
- There is a difference between leadership and control. A leading organization can lead through delegation. A clear flag of a failing economic development organization is one that seems to take control of everything. Its a stewardship model vs. dictator model that is needed for scalability and sustainability.
- One can begin by looking at what the region is already known for and has in abundance. Next one would have to compare the regions current success and competitive differentiators against any other regions that are in that space. In too many cases a region that pioneers a field becomes comfortable at the lead and fails to see others gaining on them until it is too late. Keep in mind that the individuals who probably created the industry tend to retire and turn it over to the politicians in their companies, so its not surprising that the decline of industries sectors in a given region over time.
- Studying your areas of strength, then exploring the strength you have in adjacent industries could also be a opportunity in waiting. In many cases these have grown up independently and could be at a maturation point where stronger cross sector integration can create dynamic opportunities in the marketplace.
- Investing in a growing regional competency might make sense. Really mature clusters don’t need much additional support. They have already built their systems and partnership. So a growing sector could be the place where the investments make a big difference.
- Even though emerging markets might be risky, if you region already has strong momentum in that entrepreneurial area and that mark may have the support of mature adjacent sectors, then it could be a strategic play. You really have to look at the competition before jumping in though.
- Looking at cluster intersects can be a game changing strategy, even for your mature sectors. Combining a horizontal with a vertical sector could be a multiplier. For example: Add a IOT focus to a manufacturing or agriculture cluster strengthens both sectors in your region and could create dynamic opportunities. Combining mobile into healthcare or supply chain could amplify all your mature businesses and share the cost of the innovation and R&D.
Researching corporate leadership needs and insights began through the creation of the Leadership Advisory Board. The first meeting was hosted in the board room of the Carlson School of Management. Over 35 companies participated at the initial event ( membership grew over next year) and the target audience included HR leadership spanning small, medium and large organizations from companies selected in multiple cities in Minneasota. The agenda for the evening was a mix of social networking with peers and collaborative feedback sessions. To facilitate the discussion we began with an overview of one of the leadership offerings under development with a pilot group of advisors. See details of this offering at an earlier post. While the size and maturity level of each of the organizations varied the level of participation, critical feedback and differentiation between what different organizations valued was impressive. The event lasted several hours between the sessions and social aspects. Here are some of the insights to the conversation:
Polar Extremes: Passionate discussion
- Internal Programs: Over the past decade, have made a decided internal investment and commitment to the development of their own leadership programs. This allows for deep specialization of leadership styles and internal knowledge of corporate operations. These groups were some of the most outspoken in terms of what they valued and their interest level in securing outside services. This approach is more available to slightly larger organizations that have the resources to provide a complete internal talent development option.
- External Programs: Other corporations felt it was critical to bring in external services for the development of their leadership cultivation. They would work with multiple external organization or sister corporations providing a variety of offerings at each level of management development. Here they valued diversity of training and perspectives to keep their organizations leadership culture evolving and reflecting. This group was represented from small to large orgs and more governed by values that resources.
- Hybrid Programs: A fair number of the companies valued both approaches and looking at each level of training needed a blend of internal specialization and external awareness of options and techniques.
Collective Alignment: Enthusiastic Agreement
- Leadership programs are essential. Not surprising coming from HR professionals, but a sincere belief in the development of people and organizations.
- A desire to collaborate and share with other organizations. This was a peer group of professionals that valued each other insights and the network in general.
- Many worked with academic organizations outside of Minnesota due to reputation, brand, and industry recognition
- Strong alignment that external offerings needed to be primary taught by industry practitioners. Very adamant that faculty only offerings would be of little interest.
This group of advisors would continue to grow as subsequent meetings would be held. We where looking to make this a peer community network and community driven. So topics of focus, formats and social/work balance would be managed by the group over time to make it valuable to the community. Our ask as host was to support our efforts in exposing the full leadership spectrum of offerings over time.