Saturday, May 19, 2007

ED Leader Newsletter #12

Dear Reader:

Welcome to Issue 12 of the ED Leader Newsletter. This issue has special articles on:

* Creativity (Read about Don Iannone's creative life).
* Vision (A good example from Kentucky).
* Strategic Directions (Why we must pay attention to the big picture).
* Strategic Planning (Its benefits to leadership).
* Book Reviews (Three good ones!)

I hope you enjoy the articles. Please tell your friends to sign up for the newsletter. As you know, it's free!

Best wishes,

Don Iannone

Don Iannone's New Poetry Book

Poetry is not something that economic developers often talk about, but the creative sector is, and poetry is a part of the creative sector of the economy.

Poetry has been a part of my life since my high school years. For me, poetry is a special language allowing us to see the world in new and unique ways. For that reason, I believe poetry is important to economic development and leadership. My poetry is inspirational and introspective in nature; both are essential ingredients in developing our "inner leadership." Leaders MUST be creative to get their jobs done!

Perhaps you have a creative side that has been patiently waiting to come out. If so, I would enjoy hearing about it.

This past week was a big one for my poetic career. A second printing of my first poetry book, Stilling the Waters, was published by BookSurge (Charleston, SC), and my brand new poetry book, Walks in Life's Sacred Garden , also published by BookSurge, was released. Both books are now available on and several other online book sites.
I am proud to say that Stilling the Waters was a hit, and therefore a second printing was recommended. So far, Walks in Life's Sacred Garden is selling well in its first week on the market.
Both books are intimate portraits of the stuff of which life is made; your life and my life. Many of the poems are disarming in calling our attention to life's fragileness. They talk about the things that keep us up nights, and the things we dream of, when we allow ourselves. Each book is great vacation reading on the beach or sitting on the front porch of your vacation home on a lazy summer afternoon.
If you enjoy poetry, you might like my two poetry blogs:

Poetic Alchemist

Conscious Living Poetry Journal

(Click on the images below to enlarge them.)

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Here is a sample of what you will find in Walks in Life's Sacred Garden.

When a Factory's Life Ends
By Don Iannone

The foul gray smoke that once belched
from the tall red brick stacks
was a bittersweet sign of life—
that the old factory was still working.
The smoke has now ended,
along with the noisy metal-banging,
that for so many years kept men busy
from sun up till sun down.
The iron gates are chained shut,
and never again will greet the dark faces of the hardened men
with stale breath from strong black coffee and cigarettes.
It's too easy to blame too many strikes
for the factory's foreboding silence,
but hungry workers elsewhere,
willing to work for much less,
and customers needing less metal,
are just as much the reason
why the dark faces have grown much darker.
The mill is history—
a cold, lifeless archeological ruin,
and so are the paychecks that paid the bills
and gave some small consolation to the two thousand men,
who laughed at each other's lame jokes,
and dreamed of days when they wouldn't have to work so hard.
Now that day has come,
and their dreams and jokes have ended,
but they’re not laughing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Why Leaders Need a Strategic Plan

To Lead Effectively, a Strategic Plan is Essential!

It may seem obvious to economic developers and their leaders that a strategic plan is needed to guide economic development efforts in an area. Often, it is not obvious because the benefits are not clearly understood.

For several years, I taught strategic planning courses at the Economic Development Institute. Here are the top benefits of strategic planning for the economic development organization:

Benefits of Economic Development Strategic Planning

Strategic planning serves a variety of purposes for an economic development organization, including to:

1. Define the purpose of the organization and to establish realistic goals and objectives consistent with that mission in a defined time frame within the organization’s capacity for implementation.

2. Communicate those goals and objectives to the organization’s constituents.

3. Develop a sense of ownership of the plan. (Leadership must own the plan!)

4. Ensure the most effective use is made of the organization’s resources by focusing the resources on the key priorities.

5. Provide a base from which progress can be measured and establish a mechanism for informed change when needed. (Your plan must be performance-based)

6. Build a consensus about where an organization is going and why and how.

7. Provide clearer focus of the organization, producing more efficiency and effectiveness. (ED organizations must use leveraged strategies to get things done.)

8. Bridge staff and board of directors (The two must be united in belief, goals, and strategies.)

9. Build strong teams in the board and the staff (The two must be one!)

10. Provide the glue that keeps leaders together (Especially in linking public and private sector leaders.)

11. Produce great satisfaction among stakeholders around a common vision.

12. Solves major problems and positions the organization for future opportunities.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vision: Kentucky's Long-Term Policy Research Center

To lead effectively, leaders must have vision. The Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center is a good example of a resource helping leaders make effective leadership decisions. We are struggling with the "vision thing" in economic development. Frankly, we have become overly consumed with the "local" and what happens in our own sandbox.

All of us could afford to take a note or two from the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center and other entities that are working to breathe vision into decision-making.

Mission Statement

The Long-Term Policy Research Center will serve as a catalyst to change the way decisions are made in government by providing decisionmakers a broader context in which to make decisions, taking into consideration the long-term implications of policy and critical trends and emerging issues which are likely to have a significant impact on the state.

Click here to download the Center's Visioning Kentucky's Future report. It's an excellent read!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Strategic Directions: Driving Trends for the Future

Every economic development leader must be part "futurist" to understand where his or her area is headed. External events and factors have a major influence on communities, regions, and states.

In this article, I would like to share what futurist James Canton has to say about the really big issues driving the future.

According to Canton, in the post-9/11 world every forecasting book that came before 9/11 is obsolete. Our world is constantly buffeted by new and dramatic change that we can’t fully grasp. The changes come in extremes: faster, bigger, more illuminating and more devastating than ever before. And all of these changes are tame compared to what is coming in the Extreme Future.

In his forthcoming new book, The Extreme Future, Dr. Canton breaks new ground in boldly analyzing the key trends that will affect business and society, touching every person, in the coming decade. The fusion of emerging and future trends---from customer changes to technology and science will be a guide to the 21st century.

The Top 10 Trends of The Extreme Future

1. Fueling the Future - The energy crisis, the post-oil future, and the future of energy alternatives like hydrogen. The critical role that energy will play in every aspect of our lives in the 21st century.

2. The Innovation Economy - The transformation of the global economy based on the convergence of free trade, technology and democracy, driving new jobs, new markets, globalization, competition, peace and security. The Four Power Tools of the Innovation Economy are Nano-Bio-IT-Neuro.

3. The Next Workforce - How the workforce of the U.S. is becoming more multicultural, more female and more Hispanic. Why the future workforce must embrace innovation to become globally competitive.

4. Longevity Medicine - The key forces that will radically alter medicine such as nanotech, neurotech, and genomics, leading to longer and healthier lives.

5. Weird Science - How science will transform every aspect of our lives, culture and economy—from teleportation to nanobiology to multiple universes.

6. Securing the Future - The top threats to our freedom and our lives, from hackers to terrorists to mind control. Defining the risk landscape of the 21st century.

7. The Future of Globalization - The new realities of global trade and competition; the rise of China and India; the clash of cultures and ideologies; and the cultural-economic battle for the future.

8. The Future of Climate Change - How the environment is changing and how we need to prepare for increased global warming, pollution, and threats to biodiversity.

9. The Future of the Individual - The risks and challenges from institutions, governments, and ideologies in the struggle for human rights and the freedom of the individual in the 21st century.

10. The Future of America - The power of America and its destiny to champion global democracy, innovation, human rights and free markets.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Book Review: Presence by Peter Senge

Presence is an intimate look at the development of a new theory about change and learning. In wide-ranging conversations held over a year and a half, organizational learning pioneers Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers explored the nature of transformational change—how it arises, and the fresh possibilities it offers a world dangerously out of balance. The book introduces the idea of “presence”—a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts—to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. Too often, the authors found, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.

Drawing on the wisdom and experience of 150 scientists, social leaders, and entrepreneurs, including Brian Arthur, Rupert Sheldrake, Buckminster Fuller, Lao Tzu, and Carl Jung, Presence is both revolutionary in its exploration and hopeful in its message. This astonishing and completely original work goes on to define the capabilities that underlie our ability to see, sense, and realize new possibilities—in ourselves, in our institutions and organizations, and in society itself.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Book Review: Theory U by Otto Scharmer

In this book, Otto Scharmer invites us to see the world in new ways. Fundamental problems, as Einstein once noted, cannot be solved at the same level of thought that created them. What we pay attention to, and how we pay attention - both individually and collectively - is key to what we create. What often prevents us from "attending" is what Scharmer calls our "blind spot," the inner place from which each of us operates. Learning to become aware of our blind spot is critical to bringing forth the profound systemic changes so needed in business and society today.

First introduced in Presence, the "U" methodology of leading profound change is expanded and deepened in Theory U. By moving through the "U" process we learn to connect to our essential Self in the realm of presencing - a term coined by Scharmer that combines the present with sensing. Here we are able to see our own blind spot and pay attention in a way that allows us to experience the opening of our minds, our hearts, and our wills. This wholistic opening constitutes a shift in awareness that allows us to learn from the future as it emerges, and to realize that future in the world.

Theory U explores a new territory of scientific research and personal leadership, one that is grounded in real life experience and shared practices. Scharmer shares much from his own personal and professional development, and draws from a rich diversity of compelling stories and examples. Readers will find themselves drawn to new ways of thinking and acting as they read, completing a parallel journey of exploration and discovery. The final chapters lay out principles and practices that allow everyone to participate fully in co-creating and bringing forth the desired future that is working to emerge through us.

Buy the book here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Foundations and Evaluating for Success

An increasing number of economic development organizations are using foundations to raise and invest funds in key initiatives. Evaluating the results of these foundation enterprises is critical. I ran across a useful guide by the Philanthrophy Roundtable that offers advice on evaluating philanthropic intitiatives.

Wise donors know that charitable giving needs to be judged by its results and not just by good intentions. Yet for decades, philanthropic evaluations have tended to collect “body count” input measures such as number of meals served, blankets given away, or staff hours worked.

With the advent of more results-oriented philanthropy, donors are increasingly looking into more meaningful measures of outcomes. This latest release in the Philanthropy Roundtable's Effective Donor series relays the practical advice of four experts on how donors can evaluate those outcomes in the programs they fund, with special emphasis on evaluating job training and school choice programs. Evaluation can also serve a foundation’s interests in unexpected ways, as when a program’s success causes it to be replicated by other donors.

Download PDF file with the full report.
Written by Peter Frumkin, Bill Niederloh, Paul E. Peterson, and Robert Peterson