TCI Regional European Conference
30-31 March 2011, Tallinn, Estonia
In our days the business environment that we work in changes nearly every day. Globalisation causes developments that are hard to understand and even harder to foresee, the financial crisis affects sectors you would not expect and two years later business again develops faster than ever. To cope and keep track with such developments doing business as usual is not enough - not for companies and at least not for cluster initiatives. These days it is essential to acquire new skills that enable us to adapt faster to the new challenges we are facing in a global digital world.
The classic cluster management approach needs to be reconsidered and adapted. The Manifesto of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 states that workplaces need to be transformed into learning sites . More than ever this applies for cluster organisations - they have to support their members in difficult times and open their eyes for strategic future developments. New cluster approaches should not only be business oriented but also need an empathic component focusing on the individual persons.
Today we live in a world where we are more connected to each other than ever before. Successful relationship management - especially in a global context - requires new behavioural patterns. We have to be human and digital at the same time. This applies in particular for cluster initiatives which nowadays have to compete with social communities, new user driven platforms and emerging open networks. Thus, a new role of cluster managers is emerging. We need an expanded understanding of relationships and of cluster managers as relationship managers. Accordingly the future cluster manager more than ever needs to have distinct relationship skills in addition to hard skills like business expertise.
Future cluster managers have to
• live a Humanistic Community Approach,
• create an improved Acknowledgement Culture,
• set up Learning Cluster Communities and
• develop New Cluster Concepts including virtual Social Networks.
To achieve this Klaus Haasis examined two components that are essential for learning organisations and also for learning clusters: "knowledge management" and "relationship management": Knowledge management in the sense of "to learn from and with each other" and relationship management meaning "to trust each other".
1. Knowledge Management
Peter Senge explains in "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization" that a learning organisation has to be skilled in specific fundamental disciplines. He describes five components a "learning organisation" requires:
1. "Personal mastery" of one's capacities
2. "Team learning" through group discussion of individual objectives and problems
3. Employees and managers are also encouraged to examine together their often negative perceptions or "mental models" of people and procedures within a company
4. "Shared vision"
5. "Systems thinking" as the central - the "fifth" - discipline
These principles support the "learning from and with each other" in organisations. This concept not only applies for organisations but also for regions and clusters. The presentation gave an overview on how to adapt this very appealing concept to a cluster environment and why cluster managers and regional representatives will be well advised to implement it in their future strategies.
2. Relationship Management
One aspect that remains key element of all successful clustering approaches is relationship management and along with it the aspect of trust. Cluster actors need trust to learn from each other and to benefit from collaboration and exchange. Currently we find people cautious about sharing their knowledge and information with each other - a development also mirrored in Europe in public discussions on privacy issues of services like "Google Street View" or Facebook. Boundaries between "Open" and "Closed", "Real" and "Virtual" become more and more blurry. How to deal with that challenge? Creating a trustful environment for cluster organisations is a crucial first step that can be taken supported by different approaches, among others:
• Appreciative inquiry - a concept brought to life by David Cooperrider: This concept serves to analyse the strengths of an organisation and provides indications how to foster them. This method promotes positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in persons, situations or organizations.
• The person-centred approach from Carl Rogers, who was an influential American psychologist, can contribute to create, ensure and increase trust between the different actors. This approach found wide application in various domains such as psychotherapy and counselling, education, organizations and other group settings. It can be used as well as an effective tool for Cluster Management.
• Positive psychology by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: This is a branch of psychology that seeks "to find and nurture genius and talent" and "to make normal life more fulfilling" not simply to treat mental illness.
Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer recently addressed a similar topic in an article published in the Harvard Business Review . According to them, we should more than ever focus on shared value as it leads to economic success of companies and at the same time means social progress for the community.
At the end of his presentation Klaus Haasis introduced some ideas how the work of future cluster managers could be assessed. The PRO INNO Europe® initiative Cluster-Excellence.eu (http://www.cluster-excellence.eu/) aims to set up a meaningful set of quality indicators and peer-assessment procedures for cluster management. Some indicators could be used to describe and to assess the necessary skills a cluster community manager needs to have:
- Qualification: Education, Experience, Communication and Soft Skills
- Life Long Learning Aspects: Dedicated Budget for Training Programmes
- Personal Contact with Cluster Members: No passive contacts but active relationships!
- Active Communication: Widespread Communication Activities, Public Recognition of the Cluster, Success Stories, Website (also in English)
Download the presentation of Klaus Haasis.
Note from TCI: All presentations from the conference are available for TCI members in conferences materials. TCI members remark that these interesting materials are very helpful for their daily work.
 Porter, Michael E. / Kramer, Mark R.: "Creating Shared Value", Harvard Business Revue, January-February 2011, p.62 - 77
19 April 2011