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May 27, 2018

Corner Office

Looking to the Horizon

Lynda Keever | 7/1/2007

Lynda Keever, Publisher

The Florida Chamber Foundation routinely focuses on trends and research concerning the competitiveness of our state. Last fall, the foundation’s research committee and trustees had a big “ah ha!,” noting every initiative, from housing to education, should be about innovation. As a result, they began convening for an upcoming event called “Imagine an Innovative Florida.”

The leaders in their planning caucuses wondered: “Has anyone compared government agency and not-for-profit plans on innovation?” Apparently not. So IBM, with its experience in innovation, quickly took a leadership role and committed the resources of its management consulting and branding practices to assist the foundation in its work. They collected strategic plans from more than 40 agencies and organizations, analyzed them all, identified the common threads and then looked at unique items that Florida should consider embracing in our agenda for the innovation economy.

What they found, in a nutshell, is that we’re all pretty much on the same page, but Florida leaders need to organize and mobilize around a transformation agenda that puts innovation at the center and links our leaders across sectors and jurisdictions. At a summit in September, 400 Florida stakeholders and leaders from public, private and non-profit sectors will come together to share aspirations for an Innovative Florida.

“As the world becomes much more global, innovation will be the key to competitiveness,” says Dwayne Ingram, IBM’s senior executive for Florida. “With the technology available today, collaboration is the key to success. It requires governments, educators, civic leaders and businesses — both large and small — to compete differently, both in their thinking and their approach.

According to the IBM team’s preliminary findings, transformation will require that Florida: 1) manage a multitude of objectives; 2) effect decentralized ownership of project execution; 3) manage resource constraints; 4) agree on critical timelines; and 5) listen to diverse stakeholders and constituencies.

On a regional basis, the Tampa Bay Partnership is innovating to create a new collaboration among its seven counties. I was one of 300 political, business, environmental, real estate and civic leaders invited to take part in Reality Check Tampa Bay in May. Our task was to come up with a concept of what we want the region to look like and set strategies to move in that direction.

As Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, one of the event sponsors, put it: “You’re going to grow. You’re going to change. The real question is how.”

Bringing together people from the region’s seven counties was a big first step in determining the answer. The goal was collaboration — not thinking as individual counties or individual cities — but as a region. “Regionalism,” McMahon said, “is taking your eyes off your shoes and looking to the horizon.”

Participants worked in teams of eight to 10, negotiating with each other to create a blueprint for growth for the region based upon actual demographic, geographic and economic data assembled specifically for the event. It was an innovative exercise that will help guide the development of concrete steps to assure quality growth to meet the Tampa Bay region’s needs over the coming decades.

It’s obvious that many people across the state understand that we must be innovative on how we plan and cooperate. We must be more inclusive. And we must make sure that measures of success are part of the plan. The process of transforming Florida’s economy is just beginning. With the hard work and leadership of Enterprise Florida and the Florida Chamber Foundation, our state’s horizon looks bright indeed.

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