Ed Morrison recently received a note from a long time EDPro reader suggesting the online newsletter, Byvation, whose editor writes about creativity, innovation and disruption. If you are interested, you can sign up for the free letter here.

The June issue features the article, "Shh...Don't Wake Up the Big Dog". Here are excerpts offering advice to entrepreneurs:

"...Make new friends In the early days, it's best to operate in stealth mode. Create prototypes, acquire funding quietly (i.e. friends, family, and angels), and most importantly - get customers...Making friends with bigger dogs offers you protection. And, when you're growing up - that's what you need. Joint Ventures, Alliances, and Strategic Partnerships opens doors to customers and lets you deal with others from a position of strength - instead of weakness. When the big dogs throw up legal and marketing roadblocks, you'll be able to persist in the fight...

...As an upstart - either a classic entrepreneur or a newly created corporate spinoff, you need to think disruptively. Like a growing puppy, you need to tip-toe around the big dogs. If they growl, back away. Find a new angle of attack. Think about who you need as strategic partners, know when you'll need them, and how you'll persuade them to join your cause.

In the end, your choices are 1) To compete with the big dogs, or 2) Strike disruptively. If you chose to mix it up with the big dogs, the odds are against you. And, even if you win, you'll probably end up in a no-profit zone, just like the auto industry or the airlines. At least disruption gives you a fighting chance."

...I especially like the author's focus on disruptive products and strategies. But there is another important application of disruption: as it applies to behavior.

Our first impulse is to think of non-status quo behavior as negative. But what if the established behavior no longer provides value? Disruptive appreciative behavior means the resulting activities will be different. This is how change occurs.

Disruptive behavior is critical to enable shifts to occur in environments if mature patterns of behavior stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. This is the case in Northeast Ohio. Entrepreneurs struggle for value in an environment still modeling post industrial hierarchical thinking, behavior and activity, stifling innovation.

Byvation offers good advice. I can think of no better way than to work "under the radar"; this allows new work to move forward creatively and uninterrupted in a continuous test environment, at least in the early stages.

One point that needs to be appreciated: leaders who are inventing and building new methods for innovation need to "lean into" each other.

A kind of banding together. Not necessarily work together, but like in chamber music performance, play forward relentlessly and powerfully, appreciate and be aware of fellow colleagues efforts, but constantly look for new avenues of opportunity - disruptive as they may be.

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Thinking about NEO in New and Different Ways: MegaRegions & Networks of Capability

Ed Morrison sends this link to America 2050 - addressing mega regions, their capabilities and potential for regional development alignment.

You can download a very interesting presentation by Kip Bergstrom to the recent Fifth Annual State of the Region Conference: “Responding to A Changing World” in Toledo, Ohio this past May 22, 2006. "Thinking About Regions as Networks of Capability" here.

Bergstrom refers to work done by Bob Yaro of the NY/NJ/CT Regional Plan Association and Armando Carbonell of the Lincoln Institute.

Ed Morrison continues...

"The Fund for Our Economic Future could accelerate its efforts by learning how other regions are promoting innovation through open networks.

We have distilled this model as Open Source Economic Development. We are now teaching this model to other economic development professionals:

We are deploying this model in Indiana under Leadership Indiana, the governor's Accelerating Growth initiative and the workforce innovation initiative (WIRED) guided by Purdue. It is also the model we are following with CuyahogaNext.

Among the interesting insights, is one on the last page. I quote it below.

...'Why is it better for Toledo to position itself as part of the greater Detroit metro as opposed to just focusing on the Toledo metro?

It has to do with the role of networks in innovation. The network is the common denominator between the traditional notion of a cluster and the new focus on capability. The clusters which Michael Porter describes in his work are the relatively static arrangement of galaxies and stars and planets after the big bang of disruptive innovation.

There is still movement in the system (sustaining innovation), but nothing like the explosive energy that created the system in the first place. As Mike Carroll notes, the cluster is not the economic geography of the regional market…that is simply the stage set for social networks among individuals in organizations. Likewise, disruptive innovation is enabled by dense, deep and broad social networks, which create new clusters by combining elements of existing clusters in new ways… specifically through new business models that combine people, products and processes to create value that someone is willing to pay for.

These networks cannot just exist in virtual space, because too much of the knowledge required for innovation is tacit and therefore difficult to communicate electronically. Innovation emerges from intense face-to-face interaction among diverse teams of people with complimentary capabilities. This need for face-to-face interaction to drive innovation is the primary source of regional competitive advantage.

The physical extent of easy, regular, face-to-face interaction defines the possible geographic scope of the region. The interstate highway system enables easy face-to-face interaction at the metro scale. High speed rail may someday enable it at the super city or mega regional scale.' "

This is excellent guidance for all of us working in Northeast Ohio to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship by leveraging new practices and tools for Open Source Economic Development. Take a look at the report, it's pretty cool and contains good information.

Updates on the Charleston Digital Corridor: Model for Midtown

The Charleston Digital Corridor is our model for Midtown.

Ernest Andrade, the city economic development official who launched the Charleston Digital Corridor, is stepping down after 18 years in municipal government. He will go into private consultancy to teach other regions how to apply best thinking. Read the article here.

The CDCorridor website offers a thorough and brilliant definition of organization, alignment and creative approaches to initiating and strengthening a technology industry destination. Visit the site here.

Ed Morrison is a Founding Director of the CDCorridor. We will ask Ernest to come to Cleveland to share his knowledge with entrepreneurs in Midtown.

Digital Corridor chief resigns: Architect of Charleston program to become private consultant

The Post and Courier

Ernest Andrade, the city economic development official who launched the Charleston Digital Corridor, is stepping down after 18 years in municipal government to take his strategies on the road.

He has incorporated a consultancy dubbed Andrade Economics to teach other communities the techniques he used to cultivate a budding technology industry in Charleston. His last day as a city employee will be Aug. 30.

"I am professionally at my creative best and I want to be able to share with the rest of the world what I've learned," Andrade said. "This isn't something that necessarily needs to be kept in a bottle."

It was unclear Friday if the city has a succession plan. Mayor Joe Riley could not be reached for comment, and only a few members of City Council had heard of the resignation.

During his time with the city, Andrade, 42, didn't dangle incentives, wine and dine CEOs or cold-call prospects. He was also not much for meetings, studies and bureaucracy. Instead, Andrade took small, quick steps to fertilize Charleston's tech landscape, such as lining up parking, tracking open office space and plugging newcomers into the network of area financiers and like-minded techies.

"The position we've taken is to hit small singles every day, so even if that big economic development home run doesn't come, you're going to have successes," he said. "It's the epitome of an initiative crafted by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs."

Savannah's Creative Coast, a nonprofit economic development organization, studied the Digital Corridor's model before it launched in 2003, according to executive director Chris Miller.

"(Andrade) is clearly ahead of his time," Miller said. "We're talking about small, fast, flexible entrepreneurs. They don't have time for bull and bureaucracy."

Andrade's approach helped win Digital Lifestyle Outfitters, a Raleigh-based company that sells iPod gadgets, which moved here in mid-2004. Jeff Grady, the company's chief executive officer, said Andrade was an ambassador when his team came to check out Charleston.

"It was a very personal experience," he said. "(Andrade) picked us up and drove us around town and had some potential office space already identified for us to look at. ... I don't even think the people in Raleigh knew what we were doing."

Since relocating here, Digital Lifestyle has grown from four local workers to 20 and from $22 million in annual revenue to more than $100 million.

City Councilman Henry Fishburne said results like that will be missed when Andrade goes.

"I was always impressed with his intelligence level and his effort, his dedication," Fishburne said. "If he leaves the community and if he leaves the peninsula, it will leave a gap there. I hope we can fill it sometime in some way."

Andrade was born in Kuwait, grew up in India and immigrated to the U.S. in 1981. He earned a bachelor's degree from the College of Charleston and a master's in public administration from the University of South Carolina before joining the city's Planning Department 18 years ago, and later moving to economic development.

Having seen both sides of outsourcing, Andrade shifted his focus away from industrial businesses and launched the Digital Corridor initiative in 2001.

"There was no ah-ha moment," he said. "But there were moments when you pulled people aside privately and asked them to be very candid. And out of that candor came the strategy."

Since its inception the Corridor has grown from 18 to 78 member companies. The initiative's major accomplishments include setting up an online "talent portal" connecting local companies to job seekers and building a "touchdown space" where a small startup or relocating business can work until it secures office space. The Digital Corridor was also the driving force behind the city's free wireless Internet, which has been spreading slowly across the peninsula since March.

Andrade said the initiative was "painfully underfunded" since its inception, but he pointed out that tight finances helped his organization run efficiently. The corridor budget was $142,000 last year, a sum that included the salaries of Andrade and development coordinator Kimberly Demetriades.

Fishburne said he thought Andrade felt unappreciated and was frustrated with the city's financial commitment. "I think in general he was hoping for more support and hoping to do bigger and better things," he said.

Andrade will continue to serve as director of the Digital Corridor Foundation, a nonprofit made up of local tech executives that loans money to area startups. He will also do some work with Keane & Co., a consultancy launched in late 2004 by Tim Keane, former city planning director. Andrade is a silent investor in the firm.

Reach Kyle Stock at 937-5763 or kstock@postandcourier.com.

A Good Overview of Network Theory Applied to Neighborhood Rebuilding

Here is an excellent story about network theory applied to community engagement from Lawrence, Massachusetts.

"Network Organizing: A Strategy for Building Community Engagement" by William J. Traynor and Jessica Andors, describes a community not unlike Midtown, an environment that suffers from social deficits and subsequently lack of network infrastructure.

These kinds of landscapes, the result of mature aging hierarchical environments, offers tremendous opportunity to those ready to grasp fresh community rebuilding activity.

Read the article and explore the National Housing Institute website here.