Saturday, December 31, 2005

Flying Away

The first week of the New Year a friend of mine flies off from Cleveland to Phoenix in search of a satisfying and appropriate position of employment which he was unable to find in Cleveland. We had a going away party for him at Grovewood Tavern on Friday and I sure am disappointed that he had lost a vision of hope in Cleveland; but, when one has been looking for two years, you have to “do what you gotta do.” I am not disappointed in his decision, but in the situation that led to his leaving and I wish him well.

A mutual friend of ours is currently a community/civic leader there and is starting him off with a number of contacts in his network. The report is that Phoenix does not have the supportive communities that Cleveland does which is probably because Phoenix is one of the fastest growing regions in the country.

I am firmly embedded in Cleveland although I have been in his situation. As a sixth or seventh generation Clevelander my social networks continue to grow and my communities are tremendously supportive. I thoroughly enjoy what I am doing and the people I work with in all my endeavors.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Applied Technology

One of biggest problems is that we are so easily impressed with new technology and we haven’t yet learned to fully apply that which is current. For that reason, those older cities that are so reliant on manufacturing, when much of that industry moves away, the cities seem to be at a tremendous loss as to how to move forward. We need in all our regions to use our brainpower, to learn how technologies and manufactured goods can be best applied.

Lets learn how to use what we have and how use it better and in new ways. Like open source in software, opportunity and money is in the application, not in the software itself.

It is important to look for new innovative products, which is where the flash is, but we need more of how to use products to their best advantage.

Monday, December 05, 2005


There is a definite problem with code words and possibly misleading misuse of words. Let's be clear of what we mean when we have discussions. Words and practices can all be misused and abused: look at regionalism, networking, collaboration, teamwork.

Let’s look at regionalism. When someone says "Regionalism" what do they mean?

Are they talking about a new regional government overseeing the operation of the region?

Are they talking about an old regional government overseeing the region?

Are they talking about a new non-profit organization doing the regional thing for all the participating local bodies?

Are they talking about local bodies openly collaborating for the betterment of the region?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of the above?

I certainly believe that maintaining the individuality of the local organizations and having them work openly together is the best way to improve Northeast Ohio. We don't need another organization doing the collaborating work that individual organization should be doing. We need organizations and individuals teaching and encouraging all in the civic space to build open networks of collaboration.

Rather than merging towns, cities, businesses, we should consider working together in an open collaborative way in which costs are reduced but individuality is maintained.

How can the City of Cleveland expect regionalism to work when it is still having problems with its own internal regional politics: the ward system? Perhaps the city should consider having its council elected at large so as to lessen the infighting that continues to distract from many of the real problems. Or at least learn and practice open collaboration.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pay To Play in the Network Arena

Why do we allow ourselves to be kept out of the box and impact our livelihood? All too often, business leaders are met with roadblocks which are more easily worked around with the assistance of other business owners. This collaboration is networking at its best.

Why is it that there are exclusive business clubs/organizations in communities where business is at a standstill or receding that continue to put a premium price on networking? As an example see an association of small businesses in Northeast Ohio which advertises that for a $1,000/year membership; "This membership level is designed to give you greater opportunities to network with other leading area companies, increase your visibility in the community." An organization such as this does not appear to be promoting small businesses but rather raising money for other purposes and promoting businesses which have the backing of the establishment.

There are many legitimate costs of doing business, but paying to network should not be one of them.

All business owners need to know that that box is the box that they need to think out of, the box which restricts membership, the box which says that permission is needed. Business owners/entrepreneurs need to know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the region just like them, who would love to share information, ideas, resources. Businesses need to talk with their competitors, suppliers, and customers as well as neighbors.

A resource which many business people are discovering is their local library. Many libraries are partnering with business owners and presenting business informational programs and civic forums. Networking in the civic space is free or at least no more costly the the time you take to particpate.

[see I-Open and its links]

Monday, October 03, 2005

Box Thinking

All of us have participated in discussions of working outside or inside the box. Several questions come to mind:
Are there boxes within boxes?

Who constructed the box?

Who maintains the box?

Are there box police?

We find in tightly hierarchical society smaller boxes with those inside closely networked and linked.

Encouraging thinking outside the box causes pain and expense to some possibly due to perceived change, chaos or potential chaos, or lack of control.

Too many people thinking outside the box without any control leads to chaos and much inefficient behavior.

Many types of business, especially those in idea creation, encourage thinking outside the box encouraging innovation, new ways of thinking, perceiving, and doing.

There is probably always going to be a need for people thinking outside the box with unlimited control, close to chaos primarily because it causes many others to think beyond where they have limited themselves. However, in many regions the boxes are too tightly drawn and controlled.

Allowing only thinking within the box gives control to those who are already there and to those who create and maintain the box. It is exclusive in that those outside are not supported by the community.

There is a need to expand the box to be more inclusive of people and ideas. People previously (thinking) outside the box are not included and linkings and connections are encouraged and more readily accepted as there is less threat of chaos. New linkings encourage economic growth. There then is greater possibility of innovation within the box.