Perfecting the art of collaboration to find innovative workforce solutions



people, networks, strategic, collaboration, talking, workforce, work, problem, complex, conversation, solution, Purdue, reimagined, ed, programmes, organisations, skills, design, opportunity, economics


Kathryn Hume, Ed Morrison

Connect with Ed Morrison on LinkedIn



Kathryn Hume  00:51

Ed Morrison is director of the Agile strategy lab at the University of of North Alabama. The lab develops new approaches to managing complex collaborations and networks. He is co author of the book strategic doing 10 skills for agile leadership. Ed started his career in Washington DC, where he was legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Office of Policy Planning for the Federal Trade Commission, and a staff member for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. In that role, he managed floor legislation involving tax trade and competitiveness. After leaving Washington, he joined a corporate strategy consulting firm, where he conducted strategy studies for large companies like Ford, Volvo and General Electric after his work as a corporate strategy consultant, Ed consulted with communities and regions on how to tackle complex challenges of building a prosperous economy in an era of globalisation. Frustrated with existing approaches to these issues, more than 25 years ago, he began working on a new methodology for developing strategy in open loosely connected networks, now called Strategic Doing. This work aligns with what scholars now call open strategy. Ed began his academic career in 2003, as Director of the Centre for regional economic issues at Case Western Reserve University. In 2005, he moved to Purdue University, where he was a member of the professional staff at the Purdue Centre for regional development. In 2016, he founded the Agile strategy lab at Purdue. And in 2020, he founded the Agile strategy lab at the University of North Alabama. He received a BA degree cum laude with honours from Yale University, and both his JD and MBA degrees from the University of Virginia, and a PhD in Economics from the University of Sunshine Coast, Australia. I’ve been reading Ed’s work on LinkedIn and found it aligned really closely with my thinking on how we might solve complex issues through collaboration. What stood out to me though, was Ed’s recognition of the synergies between innovation and learning, which I do my best to apply in my own work, that made me wonder what I had to learn and how I could design the collaborative partnerships, I lead with more structure and intention. Ed, Welcome to the reimagined workforce.


Ed Morrison  03:18

Hello, it’s a pleasure. And thank you so much for the opportunity to explore these ideas. And I love to do that. So thank you for the opportunity.


Kathryn Hume  03:26

You know, we pondered whether, to read that whole introduction or whether I could get you to talk through that. But it’s such a phenomenal career that you have had and what a difference you are making in the world.


Ed Morrison  03:40

Well, it’s it’s a different. It’s a different career path, that’s for sure. So I just kind of followed my interests and my passions. And I ended up in a good spot. So I’m excited about that. But yeah, it’s  not a traditional career path. That’s for sure.


Kathryn Hume  03:57

It’s not that I do think that is what we’re trying to achieve with reimagining the workforce and finding these opportunities for people and saying, Where are your passions? And how do we get that optimization because people invest discretionary effort when they’ve got that passion behind them?


Ed Morrison  04:13

Well, that’s, that’s really important. I mean, I think that is true that traditional career paths, at least, you know, that we kind of knew in the past are really rapidly disappearing, of course, because jobs are shifting very quickly. So that means that the individuals, us we have to, we have to basically do two things. One, we have to discover what we’re passionate about. That’s that’s not the easiest side. That’s right.right. And then the second thing we have to do is, is develop a habit of learning of continuous learning. And the joy is that that’s actually a lot of fun and you if you doubt go down that path as I have. You meet some just incredible people. It’s a little more ambiguous, it’s a little bit less uncertain at times, and you have self doubt, of course. But those are all good moments of reflection and trying to really figure out okay, what am I really trying to do here?


Kathryn Hume  05:09

Exactly, I think it is when you move out of your comfort zone, that’s where you grow. And that’s where those opportunities arise that you might not otherwise have discovered.


Ed Morrison  05:19

Yeah, I used to tell my colleagues that it is a little bit like, you know, walking a tightrope, but pretty quickly learn that the tightrope is about six inches off the floor.


Kathryn Hume  05:33

That’s a beautiful analogy.


Ed Morrison  05:36

You know, I have fallen off the tight rope several times, but, you just get up and keep going,


Kathryn Hume  05:43

we used to have a pull out section of our newspaper. And it used to do an interview with two people just who were had some form of relationship, and it would just sort of ask them about different moments in their lives. And my husband, I always looked at it. And we thought, there was always, at some point, a struggle in people’s lives, where they flourished after that. So we always reflect on that and say, yeah, the things that are thrown at us actually lead to better outcomes. And we can now reflect on that in our lives, too. And see that we’ve progressed in careers because of things that we thought were negative at the time, or that we missed out on opportunities or jobs ended or things like that. But I think if you can take those moments and build on them, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do, I think in the reimagined workforce is, so what are the opportunities? And how do we enable people? And to your point, how do we continuously learn so we can continually move into those opportunities when they arise?


Ed Morrison  06:44

Well, the one of the things that’s important to recognise is that you can, and should it be, strengthening your networks, and what happens when you reach, divided the road or when when you reach a barrier, or some something unfortunate happens to you is, is your network is there. And it helps you. And that’s how I ended up at Purdue. I mean, I didn’t expect that, but I was working on the economics department of Case Western Reserve University. And in this kind of work is, academics call it heterodox economics, it’s kind of out of the mainstream. And, you know, traditional economists, they don’t like it. So I actually got fired from Case Western Reserve. And I thought, oh, gosh, very well, I’ll just have to go back to my consulting. But I called up my friends at Purdue. And they said, Well, come on over here, we’d love what you’re doing. So, you know, it’s, it’s your networks that are so valuable to you. And relationships are really critical to how you grow, how you learn, and how overcome the inevitable bumps in the road.


Kathryn Hume  07:53

And truth be told, I did start this podcast to try and share stories with people. But gee, I’ve met some wonderful people along the way. And I am really relishing in that opportunity and how generous people are to share their expertise, just because they’re good people.


Ed Morrison  08:10

Well, people who have embraced the time, which is basically saying, Look, we’re really moving into a new era here, of networks of collaboration, open innovation, it is it is more fluid, it is more ambiguous, that’s for sure. But it’s also more creative. And it’s also an opportunity to really unleash human ingenuity on some really complex problems. And you basically face a choice every day, well, how are you going to deal with the day? I mean, are you going to be going to embrace the the opportunity in front of you? Or are you going to, you know, be paralysed by the current situation or, you know, not do anything or whatever. And, and, of course, that’s a personal choice, that’s up to you. But when you go out and meet other people, I mean, I’m meeting people all over the world doing really cool stuff. So I’m really excited about it.


Kathryn Hume  09:05

Let’s explore some of those opportunities that you’ve embraced. I’ll just explain to listeners, I sent out a list of questions. But I’m finding that when I do that, it becomes a little bit rigid. So we’re going to try something a little bit different on this podcast and run through a problem that you’ve faced, or you responded to it, what the solutions were and the impacts you had. So could I start with my first question that I asked all best? And we’ve probably touched on a little bit already, but what does your reimagined workforce look like?


Ed Morrison  09:39

Well, I see a workforce that’s really engaged in developing new networks and communities. And when I say that, I think it’s important to recognise and I’m not talking about just loose networks, you know, we’re all part of affiliate networks or advocacy networks. You know, we graduated from a school or, we’re in a sporting team. You know, sports team was our advocacy network. So important, but we have learning networks too, that we are a part of. And those are important. And then even smaller group is innovating networks, people who are coming together and have high levels of trust and actually come together to solve problems generate solutions to complex problems. And I’d see the flourishing of workforce in the future when people embrace the idea of building a portfolio of your own networks, your own portfolio of networks, it’s something you can manage, you can control, design and It does require continuous learning and continuous development of skills and knowledge, of course, but that’s all part of the fun of it, that people will prosper in the future thing in the workforce, they’re going to develop their their networks very intentionally.


Kathryn Hume  10:49

Yeah. And I did get made redundant at one stage many, many years ago. And the firm’s sent us on a workshop, and one of the things they focused on was networking. And I’ve really harnessed that opportunity. But it is hard sometimes to reach out to people that you don’t know. And I often try and preface it with, I’m not trying to sell you anything. Because I know on LinkedIn, lots of people were trying to sell things, but I really just enjoy conversations like this with people who are on the other side of the world, but just doing something that is really interesting to me, who are willing to share that. So it’s just I think you’re absolutely on the money around networks that we can both contribute to and benefit from.


Ed Morrison  11:33

Well, here’s this short trick that I hope others take take advantage of. And that’s something I learned about 20-25 years ago, when it’s the idea of closing triangles, it’s the idea of I know Kath, and I know, Jo, but Kath and Jo don’t know each other. So I’m going to introduce them so I’m closing triangles, or what social network analysts call triadic closure, it’s just closing a triangle, right? I do that. And I’ve been doing that, since about 2003, when I first learned about it, and I do probably three or four of these a week. I just did three of them today. So maybe it’s more, I don’t know. But you don’t know where it’s gonna go, that’s fine. But it will come back. It will come back to you.


Kathryn Hume  12:18

And certainly you’ve done that for me. And that’s how I met Jo. And actually, after we finish this call, I’m meeting another one of your colleagues as well, you introduced me to so you definitely practising what you’re preaching. And I’m one of the many I’m sure who are benefiting from that.


Ed Morrison  12:34

It’s a simple practice, and you just, you know, do it. And it’s a lot of fun. So anyway,


Kathryn Hume  12:38

It certainly is. So let’s go to I know that there’s many, many, many problems, and they’re really challenging problems that you’ve solved. Lots of them are to do with low socioeconomic communities. And you’ve done some amazing things in problems that, I would imagine are unsolvable. I’m wondering if you can talk us through a workforce challenge that you’ve approached. First of all, explain to us what the problem was?


Ed Morrison  13:06

Yeah. So the the challenge that actually brought me to Purdue was, the federal government in the United States in 2003, or four wanted to encourage collaborations across large regions in the country. Our workforce system in the United States is very fragmented. And there’s a lot of individual programmes, and these programmes don’t really communicate with each other, the people operating these programmes don’t communicate, there’s no real incentive to collaborate. And there was an experiment that was could we take a $15 million grant and build workforce collaboration? And how do you do that? And so this is the first large scale application of strategic doing in a scholarly or an academic setting, Purdue got one of those grants, it was one of 13 regions that got one of the grants. And, that’s where I initially applied strategic doing to, to workforce challenges. Now, workforce challenges are very hard. They’re very hard because, well, one, the fragmentation is, a serious problem in the US. But also people speak different languages., they talk past each other, they just, they don’t, communicate very effectively with each other. They’re different language systems are different incentive systems. All of that is. The point is that these were all legacy programmes. We didn’t design them. They came to us. We didn’t design them. And they weren’t intended to work together. They, they weren’t designed to work together. So how do you take these existing programmes and start building collaborations across them? And so what we did was we we essentially taught people a very basic level of strategic planning, which is strategic doing, for those of you who don’t know, is a discipline that says look, collaborations actually formed out of our conversations. But it’s not just any conversation, it’s conversations with a definite structure to them. Initially, they’re very divergent, they’re kind of brainstorming, but then they then they quickly converge, and they start working on individual projects. And it’s that recursive process of continuously doing that, continuously asking ourselves four questions, you know, what could we do? What should we do?do? What will we do? And when are we getting back together? Again, those questions help you design the conversation. So we taught this at a very high level to a bunch of folks. And we were wildly successful with it. So when when the federal government added up all the metrics, there are four core metrics that they wanted to follow things like, how many people entered training, how many people completed training, how many people got jobs after training, that kind of thing. When they when they completed and looked at all 13 regions, we got 8% of the money, we were one of 13 reasons, but we get we produced 40% of the national results. Wow. And the reason was, is because we we learned how to link leverage and align ourselves, and we were patient, one of the one of the lessons out of that was, yeah, we all want to go fast. this whole idea of agile, well, I want to go fast with all that I want to be responsive, but the paradox of, of strategic doing or doing strategy in open networks is to go fast, you need to go slowly. So go slowly, at first and go slowly be very intentional, build relationships, start small, do the doable. And as you do that, network effects do take over, and it does accelerate. So that’s really the lesson that I’ve learned is that you can overcome these workforce challenges. But you need an operating system, you need a way for people to come. And it has to be very simple. It has to be pretty clear it has to be, low cost, he can’t, run out and hire consultants all the time. It has to be something that you can do, anybody can do. And so that’s really what strategic doing is. It’s a set of skills that we develop, learn how to teach it. And then of course, University of Sunshine Coast was generous and said, Hey, why don’t why I wanted to explain why this works. So I went ahead and finished the dissertation to explain why it works. Why does this work?


Kathryn Hume  17:41

And I’d really love that Australia funded that and supported you in that I really love that thought that Australia, we can sometimes be the forgotten country down here. But I think it’s really good to see that we’re building and enhancing those networks.


Ed Morrison  17:55

I mean, what’s interesting to me, I mean, I started working with University of Sunshine Coast, probably 2014 or 15. And of this through that work that they sort of saw what I was doing, and then say, hey, well, why don’t you try this. And what’s important is that they’re in, especially in economics. Yeah, there are pretty rigid hierarchies in economics, traditional mindsets and economics. But really interesting stuff that’s happening in economics is happening at the edges. It always happens at the edges. And you know, there’s some really, really good people in Australia who are doing stuff. There’s some people on in the UK, you may know Kate Ray worth talking about the donut economics, modern monetary theory, which is also, an important part of this. I mean, a lot of interesting stuff is happening, but it’s not happening at the so much at the at the established..


Kathryn Hume  18:56

And I have to say, when I read some of your work, I actually part of my first undergraduate degree was economics. And when you challenge the basic underlying theories of economics, it really goes to my heart and, it’s a little bit painful, I think. But I really sort of lean into that and try and understand why and then I see that but it’s interesting that then the whole world changes because you look at things through a different lens, and it’s, well hang on all of these things that I’ve based lots of my thinking on for the past 20 or 30 years are now different. but it’s interesting, because then you see different things that you might not have seen..


Ed Morrison  19:34

Yeah, you do and, again, if you think of markets, and basically what we’re trying to do, the Civic economy, the market economy, being government, civic organisations, market economy, privately profitable activities. We’re trying to try to every country is trying to figure out the overlap or the the intersection of these to things, and, basic neoclassical economics is really hopelessly naive about all that. And so, you know, it’s it’s fun to, to really line up your experience with these complex problems and really start to really explore, well, how can we do this in a more effective way? How do we do this in a better way? How do we do this in a way that’s more sustainable, more equitable, more open, and so that’s, that’s really the frontier. And there’s some really, really cool things happening. One of the other aspects that’s fascinating is when I went back and started looking at why what a what a scholar say, of why of strategic doing work, what I learned was that the people who, by and large that the scholars sort of saw what was coming. And in my view, we’re really looking around the corner are women. And this goes, goes all the way back to Edith Penrose in the 1950s. But you know, the dominant, people who are really doing really cool work, are people like Kathleen Eisenhart, Amy Edmondson, Jean Luc key, these are all people who really saw stuff way ahead of most people. So that’s an interesting dimension of this.


Kathryn Hume  21:28

That’s really interesting. One of the quotes that I really love, and I probably will get it wrong, but Peter Schwartz said, If you don’t anticipate the future, you won’t see it when it happens, something along those lines, but essentially, it’s saying that’s all about horizon scanning and scenario planning and thinking about what’s coming, looking at the horizons. And that episode that I did recently, with Kieran Murrihy, he talks about windows, and there’s there’s three different windows that we’re, we’re seeing come through in the future, and that is personal power, tech abundance and ecosystemic models. And if you’re continually looking at the edges, I’m not sure if that’s what you’re referring to. But if we’re continually looking at the foresights of what’s coming through, it really helps us with this workforce planning to say, what’s on the horizon? And how can we prepare ourselves for it? Could I ask you, you’ve mentioned around the work that you did at University of Sunshine coast was to demonstrate why it works. Can you share a few things there around what you discovered?


Ed Morrison  22:32

The basic insight of strategic doing is that conversations are, in a sense, the core technology of our collaborations, if that just makes sense. I mean, it’s that’s how we collaborate through their conversations. But that complex collaborations collaborations actually generate solutions to complex problems or wicked problems, that emerge from conversations with a very predictable structure. This is a process of recombinant innovation, it’s a process taking assets you have other people have recombining those assets, and coming up with something new, a better solution. And what we learned was that there, there are 10 skills that really need to be mastered by people who really want to be strong collaborators. And we always know, some people are already good at collaboration, I get that. I mean, you know, that’s how I, my consulting practice, I was just a good collaborator. But the problem is that good collaborators can’t really tell you why they’re so good. And they can’t really teach you because it’s all implicit knowledge. It’s knowledge they’ve gained from their experience. And, and so what strategic Doing did was was take this implicit knowledge that I had, and others generated and we made it explicit, we figured out okay, well, what are the skills? What are the skills that we need to hone in on and so there are 10 skills, nobody’s good at all. 10 skills, nobody equally good at all. 10 skills, there’s something everybody can do that 10 skills, I got that. But if you’re not equally good at all the 10 skills, which explains in part why, when you really faced a complex problem, you really needed a cognitively diverse team that really looks at the situation from different perspectives. Because managing a collaboration involves a team. It’s not a heroic leader that manages to collaborate, that’s not going to work doesn’t work.


Kathryn Hume  24:34

What I find interesting in your book, is that accuracy you’ve got in terms of the number of people in an ideal group of collaboration. So it’s an I think it was around seven in my right. Yeah. And that was interesting, because that was a learning for me, because when I was studying my Master of Education, we talked about asynchronous learning environments. And there was a research paper that said for asynchronous learning the critical mass, the number was 21. So that’s what I’d been basing it on. But I think, on reflection, people go quiet in a group of 21 or more, and you lose people. So I do really like this focus on seven.


Ed Morrison  25:14

I think part of what you’re trying to do is build new habits of thinking new habits of behaving, new habits, behaving in new patterns of working together. And one of the key ways in which if we go back to the idea of collaboration being a creative process among equal partners, it’s a creative process among equal partners, then people bring in different power dynamics into our group. So, executive comes into our group, and all of a sudden, the people lower down hierarchy are quiet, they don’t fit. And so that’s not really a very productive collaboration, that’s not going to yield a very productive collaboration. So part of what we do with strategic doing is, is for the time that we’re together, two to three hours shorter, once you get going a lot shorter. For that time period, though we we flatten the hierarchy, everybody’s equal, everybody has an opportunity. And we talked about the importance of equity of voice. In other words, everybody speak just about the right, just about the same amount of time. And this is different than what most people encounter when they go in and try to do a design group or do we are very intentional about flattening power dynamics, using transparency, providing for inclusion hold, that’s critically important for a collaboration to work, at its highest level of productivity, so that you get better solutions faster. And so this is the new habits.


Kathryn Hume  26:56

I remember in the book, Creativity, Inc, from Ed Catmull, who was the director of Pixar, and it does it through storytelling, but he talks about that they he entered the boardroom. And there was this rectangular desk where the leaders sat at the top, and he worked out that well, that was a power imbalance. So he got rid of the rectangular table and replaced it with a circle one. So that was symbolic of the fact that he wanted everyone to have an equal voice. What I found really interesting was you mentioned around some of the people have spoken once or twice, then they’re asked to stay quiet. So to allow for that opportunity for other people to have that voice. And I reflected on that. And I thought, I really want to try and practice that. But you talked about setting up the rules first. So you’ve got those expectations. And I think if I can go back to what you were saying in the earlier around, you have to go slow to go fast. Sometimes, if people don’t know where they’re heading, that can feel slow. But I think because you’ve got this process, and it can be clear to people from the from the outset where you’re taking them? Do you find that that gives them a little bit more comfort to lean in and just relax?


Ed Morrison  28:27

I think the strategic doing starts with you think of you think of a conversation, a complex conversation that’s going to generate solution to a complex problem you’re trying you’ve got this complex problem, you don’t know what to do, how to how do you address this. And what we do is we have the first couple of rules around strategic killing. One is creating a safe space, which you know, it’s its creation space, which the you know, Japanese scholars and knowledge management than done really a good job in describing this. It’s a creation space, it can be virtual can be it can be in person, but it has a set of rules around or expectations around the equity of voice. Everybody participating behaving in ways that build trust and mutual respect. And this is a pattern it’s not just a one time, oh, we’re gonna do this once. No, you, you have to do this continuously. The second way we design this container is with a framing question. And it’s an inquiry, it’s an inquiry because nobody really knows the solution. But we we understand that it brings us together that there’s a complex challenge that we all care about. So in Flint, Michigan, for example, one of the first things we worked on was you know, teenage homicides kids killing each other with with guns and obviously in our country, we have a lot of guns kill each other with these guns and so, if you if you try treated that problem as a problem that you would do a root cause analysis on if you ain’t, you know, try to analyse that problem in a traditional way, you’d get nowhere, because you just argue about multiple causes. What’s the cause? Well, maybe it’s the guns, maybe it’s the family, maybe it’s the kids may Oh, who knows? You know, there’s hundreds of different ways you can slice and dice that problem. But that’s not really what we’re trying to come up with, what we’re really trying to come up with is a better solution. And so the way to point people toward a better better solution is with a framing question is an invitation to a conversation. So imagine, every child could walk home from school feeling safe and secure in Flint, what would that look like? What would what would our churches be doing? Or what our schools be doing? What would the parents be doing? What would we be doing to make it feel more safe. And so let’s point toward the opportunity that we want the future that we’d like to design together. And that’s a far more productive way to address these problems. Because if you go the other direction, and you treat it as a technical problem, like you would treat it on the failure, when your car doesn’t start, that’s a technical problem, you do a root cause analysis? Well, when these complex problems arise, there is no root cause it’s a multiple set of, and all you ended up doing is blaming each other. And it is, you know, we’ve all been in those meetings where you just go, circle, and it’s just it’s a tremendous waste of time, tremendous wisdom.


Kathryn Hume  31:35

And it’s very deflating, and it’s demotivating, because it feels like overwhelming, and that you’re not going to solve it, because there’s too many factors, and no one has control over all of them.


Ed Morrison  31:45

Well, that’s right. And that’s, that’s why it’s not an appropriate way to to deal with this. You know, there are two really good Australian scholars, Alfred and head, who wrote a paper around wicked problems, what are we, and they they do a very good job and in, in giving our explaining why wicked problems are wicked. And one is that the problem itself doesn’t have a solution to it, there’s not a book that we can go to and say, oh, you know, whereas, you know, if your car doesn’t start, there’s this clear solution to that and figure it out. But there’s a solution. But reducing homicides among teenagers, that I mean, there’s no solution, nobody’s come up with a solution to that. So the complexity of the problem is difficult. But also, the, the other dimension of this is that in order to generate solutions, we have to collaborate, we have to because no one entity, no one person, there is no one person that can solve this. So so we’re gonna have to come up with, with a collaboration, a sharing an innovation process, where we recombine the assets, we already have to come up with a better solution. And the good news is that, in that in the managing that collaboration is itself complex, that’s complex, too. So strategic, doing helpless manage these two dimensions of complexity, both generating solutions, or potential solutions, fast iteratively, just figuring out trying to figure out what’s gonna work, what’s likely to work, do a lot of pilot projects. And then also, in the experience of strategic doing, you’re building trust across these now, you’re, you’re improving the productivity of your collaboration. So that’s why it works. It addresses both of these dimensions simultaneously, and does it with simple rules. It’s not it’s not a quadratic equation you got to solve it’s just a simple rules.


Kathryn Hume  33:44

What I really love is that when you keep using recombinant, and that was a new word to me. But acknowledging that, between us, we can pull things together that we have and create something new that didn’t exist before. And early in your process, you ask people to list the assets. I think in organisations, we often see people in their box in their role in their organisational chart. And we assign assumptions to that around what we think that they would be capable of, but it doesn’t recognise or value, the skills and capabilities that they have that sit outside of that box. And I love that you bring those out early to the end, see those connections. And I think it also gives people a little bit of a boost because they can see that they’ve got so much to bring to this process.


Ed Morrison  34:36

So when I first started this in 1993, in Oklahoma City, the challenge that we were trying to face was okay, how do we how do we transform the Oklahoma City economy? It’s been flat on its back for 10 years because it was an oil based economy and the oil prices collapsed. There was a banking collapse as well. And so they had a an old industrial economy that was going anywhere. So how do we put it on a different path? How do we start to transform this economy to make it more innovative and entrepreneurial? Well, that’s a big hairy problem. It’s


Kathryn Hume  35:14

an important one,


Ed Morrison  35:15

it’s a critical one. It’s absolutely critical, you know, for the people in Oklahoma City. And so we started out with six people around the table. And what I had to get them to understand was, I wasn’t talking about the six people around the table, transforming Oklahoma City, that’s not what I was talking about. I was talking about the networks of the six people starting the transmission. So I went to them. And I said, Look, every one of you has 100, skills, assets, people, you know, experiences you’ve had, these are all these are all valuable assets. So let’s just say each one of you has 100 of these. Well, imagine a room 100 times the size. Now tell me we can’t do any. And so you start to think more horizontally. And you start to realise it’s not the people in the room, it’s the networks to the people. That’s when you’re introducing people to your network. So for example, when I introduced Joe to you, is because, you know, you’re interested in this, I thought, oh, Joe’s just interesting to you want to know, Joe. So that’s just one asset in my network. I mean, I’ve got hundreds of these things. Yeah. And so every and everybody does everybody, everybody has gifts to share everybody, everybody. And the problem is that we have a set a setting or created a process until now, we haven’t created a process where we actually share these gifts and build trust. So that, you know, as we build trust, we share more of our gifts, right? I mean, that’s just human. That’s human nature. I mean, you know, if we don’t really trust somebody, we just don’t care. I you know, I have, that I can share. But when we start to really trust someone, then yeah, it’s we open, open the door wider. And so then you just see the assets that are available to us to generate new solutions to you know, all of these are human systems, everything. from climate change to youth violence to pandemics. These are all human systems. They’re all human systems, social technical systems, we can design them differently. This is not physics.


Kathryn Hume  37:34

Yeah, it’s gonna say it’s not gravity. Yeah.


Ed Morrison  37:37

Right. It’s not gravity here, folks. Yeah. And so this is this is the opportunity to have deeper conversations. So what’s the future we want to give to our kids and our grandkids? Yeah, that’s our responsibility now, is to do


Kathryn Hume  37:55

that. Sorry. I was just gonna say, I think that’s what I reimagined workforce concept is around saying, where we are where we are now. But what could it be like what might be in the future? And how then we can have a conversation around? So how do we make that happen?


Ed Morrison  38:12

Yeah, exactly. Right. And so you start. And so Psychologists call this process prospection. It came up in positive psychology movement in the 90s. And the idea of designing a future now we do that individually. We do that all the time, individually. I mean, we think about okay, well, what’s my vacation going to look like? You know, when we start to visualise what the vacation we are, we think about our, our, our education pathway, you know, what would should I go to college? Or, you know, what would it look like if I majored in this field of study, as opposed to another field of study? Or we often do this, when we, when we just think about our personal life, in our partners, or our family, you know, we think about how do we design, the Christmas celebration, that’s going to make everybody happy. So we do this individually. prospection is natural for us. But we don’t do it. With the social problems, or we have technical problems, we don’t engage in a process of perfection, we don’t design the future that we want. And what Tzedek doing does is says here’s an invitation to design the future, and how to do this, how to start designing your own future, following simple rules. You know, these are complex systems. I got it. Yeah, they’re very complex. But much like, you know, swallows that follow a flock complexity emerges out of simple rules. And so, the question was that I was trying to address was, what are the simple rules that we need to follow to develop complex collaborations and turns out that there are simple, really, you know, and it’s when, at Purdue, it took a long time to figure them out. I mean, it took 15 years to figure it out. And we do a lot of testbeds, we did a lot of test beds with sophisticated organisations like NASA and Lockheed and big guy, you know, defence contractors. But we also did work with community groups, and was when we had a when I had a conversation with a community leader in Flint, and I had a conversation with a what was called a weapons architect and Lockheed. And they were talking about the same process, the same process of strategic doing, where we talk about Pathfinder projects, and we talk about 3030s and very simple language that people can use. And when I saw that, that Kenyatta in, in Flint, and Todd in New Jersey, dealing with really different, but both complex problems, and they were using the same method that I said, Okay, now we can write the book.


Kathryn Hume  41:07

Yeah. And what a great book it is on it. I was just saying to you, before we started that I have ordered it, but haven’t received it yet. So I’ve listened to it. But I’ve listened to it multiple times. And I think I will continue to because yeah, I can just see so many applications in my work.


Ed Morrison  41:24

Well, guiding the media, because we’re at now we’re, we’re, you know, we have people wanting to teach these skills to you know, for fifth graders, you know, Pico joules, and yeah, and that’s why we made it open source. When I came to Purdue, I said, you know, I got this idea. But you know, if it’s successful, I want to open source. In other words, I don’t want Purdue to own it. Yeah. I want to just be able to share with people and


Kathryn Hume  41:52

and what I was saying to you, but just before we started, what I love is that you’ve said, I created this, so people don’t have to start where I started, I would like the leaders of the future to take over from me or hand over the baton. And, you know, take what I’ve learned and build on that.


Ed Morrison  42:09

Yeah, there’s, this is important. I mean, I, you know, I’m 73 years old now. And I’m because I was able to, you know, I started Oklahoma City when I was 43. And when I try to tell people, so you know, when you’re 3540 45 years old, 50 years old, whatever, do not go now do now do do now, because the feelings that I get when I go back to places where I have had an impact, like Oklahoma City, or Charleston, or Milwaukee are places that I’ve been where I’ve had an impact. You walk into those places. And it’s amazing. What what you I never imagined that, you know, it’s what happens when human ingenuity is unleashed when people you know, put away the fear and start to embrace the prospection. What’s the future that we could build together? What could we do? And it’s, it’s just incredible what people do. And that’s an amazing feeling. And I want everyone to have that feeling. Because it’s possible. It’s all possible. You can you can change. And I was telling you earlier about Victor mando. In in Brazil, he had this idea of June of 2021. Hey, I think I can there ought to be an Innovation Zone outside South Paulo with these four municipalities, but they don’t work together. They hate, you know, they compete against, they don’t see, well, you know, fast forward nine months, nine months, and his Innovation Zone was announced. And then keep going forward. Because last week, and yet another big investment in this Innovation Zone. Wow. It’s an incredible story. Or, you know, Shane harap in London, who came to me and said, I’m really concerned about the carbon footprint of the web of the web, you know, how much how much the energy that uses? Well, is there any kind of standard out there? And he said, No. And so we wanted to build a standard. Yeah. Great. Good that did that. And so go on to eco friendly web Alliance. The eco friendly web Alliance is a global alliance. Now. It’s reducing the carnival. And so yeah, I mean, yeah, you go do it. Yeah. It’s fun.


Kathryn Hume  44:29

And I do love that we get to listen to stories of people who have actually gone out and done it and proven to us that it is possible and and what a lovely feeling, it must be to be able to reflect on that and see the changes that you’ve made.


Ed Morrison  44:44

Well, that’s what that’s what I’m saying is that, you know that that feeling is hard to describe. Yeah, I want everyone that I talked to about this, to have that feeling that you’ve had an impact that you’ve actually done something that you’re really proud of and Go out. That’s a really great feeling.


Kathryn Hume  45:03

And so if people did want to connect with you, what’s the best way to do that? Well, LinkedIn is


Ed Morrison  45:10

the easiest way to connect with me, you know, just, I’m more than happy to connect. And I do a lot of posting on LinkedIn. That’s one way. Strategic. is the institute. So we have created an institute because, in fact, it has been successful, and it’s spreading. Now, we teach this in multiple languages, we’re just talking about teaching this in Spanish and Latin America, but we teach German and French and Chinese. So yeah, it transcends cultural boundaries. And they’re, you know, it’s, it’s just sitting there going, Wow, this is amazing, I never know. But it’s fun, it’s fun. And my job right now is to help the next generation of leaders. So that’s all the time I want you to be successful. And if anything I can do to do that. We have about 2000 people have been trained in strategic doing, take a training, go on to the strategic doing dotnet website, or the Agile strategy website. And, you know, set up a training we’re doing a lot of training in New Zealand now. You know, so it’s, it’s exciting. We have an Australia and New Zealand hub that’s forming around strategic doing, which is great. Learn this from each other. They don’t, you know, you learn it by doing and you learned from each other. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s kind of like, you know, riding a bike or learning to swim, you can’t reading a book helps you, that’s for sure,


Kathryn Hume  46:44

sort of you have to go and put it into practice. But


Ed Morrison  46:47

you know, you don’t you don’t learn to swim by reading a book, you got to dive into the pool. So yeah, just go go ahead and do something with it. I mean, you know, practice it, and you tell people practice on a birthday party, we don’t have birthday parties are actually pretty complex family vacation. So you know,


Kathryn Hume  47:06

when you said when you said before, organising Christmas, so everyone’s happy. And you said, that’s easy. And I thought, Oh,


Ed Morrison  47:15

that is actually a complex. So yeah, I mean, you know, there we face a lot of complexity. But when you learn that, it’s the conversation and you lead conversations, you design and lead conversations by asking questions. That’s how, and so being aware of your conversations, recognising that you can change the direction of the conversation with a question, understanding that if you’re trying to get to a collaboration, that there’s a there’s actually a path to follow. A series of questions you can ask, and skills you can master. That’s, that’s cool. I mean, I practice these skills every day. It’s just you know, yo, yo, Ma, was the wrote the foreword to the book. And I met him just by happenstance, actually. But we did a workshop together. And I think one of the reasons he likes the discipline is it is a discipline, it’s a discipline.


Kathryn Hume  48:12

That is what I like about it, too. Yeah.


Ed Morrison  48:15

You just learn in practice, like playing the piano, or playing the cello, or whatever. And you just learn and practice at any and you become a better leader when you do.


Kathryn Hume  48:26

Yeah. We have run out of time, and I’m really sorry, I would love to continue this conversation. Our conversations have been so informative and inspiring. And I really hope people learn a lot from that and continue on their journeys, but you really are making a massive difference in the world. And I thank you for your time and all of the the efforts you’ve invested to get us to where you’ve brought us today. Well, Kara,


Ed Morrison  48:51

thank you for the opportunity. Because, again, you know, it’s people like you can spread the word and then be curious and stay curious. They’re, they’re gonna change the world. Change


Kathryn Hume  49:04

it together. Excellent. All right. Well, thank you so much, and we’ll be in contact. Okay, thank you.


Voice over  49:12

Thanks for listening to the reimagined workforce podcast. We hope you found some valuable ideas that you can apply to transform your own workforce today and tomorrow. Additional information and links can be found in the show notes for this episode at workforce Please share this podcast with your community and leave us a rating to let us know what we can do better for you

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