Smart and Healthy

December 19, 2011

Patrick Lencioni is a best-selling author of management books, and having read many of his books I was excited to hear him speak a few months ago. He spoke to the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Conference, a conference celebrating growing companies. While the presentation was focused on how to make your company work better, I believe the message can be easily transferred to communities and economic development organizations as well. He defined what it meant to be both smart and healthy – the two key attributes of successful organizations.

First, what does it mean to be smart? Mr. Lencioni’s definition included smart deployment of strategy, finance, technology, and marketing. Communities that define, practice, and deploy these functions with discipline move forward. Those that do not either stand still or move backward, both losing propositions. Second, what does it mean to be healthy? His definition included equal doses of minimal confusion and politics, and maximum productivity and morale coupled with low turnover. Let’s explore what that might mean for a community and for economic development:

Simply having a strategy is perhaps the first step. We’re fortunate that our Columbus2020 plan defines our aspirations clearly, stating net new job creation, capital investment, per capita income growth, and economic competitiveness as our four overarching goals. Our leadership has set a stake in the ground, and given the Columbus Region a filter in which it can make smart investments in economic development and measure its progress. Financially, our regional economic development strategy is funded by both private and public funds. We believe this is to be critical element of our future success because it diversifies our revenue, leverages public dollars with private dollars and vice versa, and provides guidance and engagement from both elected and business leaders. Technology has changed the processes of economic development dramatically. Our ability to market our community and communicate with allies and stakeholders is greatly enhanced by using all forms of media and technology to move the Region forward. Finally, our marketing strategy is to highlight the great success of the Columbus Region by highlighting the entrepreneurs, corporate employers, people and programs that make this a competitive and formidable area in which to start and scale a business.

The second category is harder to define – but we know it when we experience it. Communities that allow for sound debate about economic development before taking action instead of political maneuvering are ultimately more productive and provide more certainty for businesses. Studies have shown that communities with great pride/morale take better care of their citizens and in turn develop healthier communities that attract and retain talent.

As we close 2011 and begin to take action in 2012 these thoughts are well worth remembering. Here is to a smart and healthy 2012!

Columbus2020! Update
We’ll begin this week by working alongside City of Dublin officials in Atlanta. We will be speaking to Wendy’s employees about the Columbus Region and the educational, housing, and occupational opportunities in the area. If you had this opportunity – what would you highlight? Please respond to me at We could use your help to highlight the great diversity and depth of our market!