About Strategic Doing

Strategic Doing logoStrategic Doing is designed for complex and rapidly changing environments, and emphasizes the importance of collaboration, experimentation, and learning. It provides a framework for universities to engage in strategic conversations, identify opportunities, and develop and implement plans that are more likely to succeed.

Unlike strategic planning, which primarily guides activity in hierarchical organizations, Strategic Doing partnerships build trust through social networks. This method is an alternative or supplement to traditional strategic planning whereby groups link and leverage assets they are willing to share. 

Strategic Doing enables people to form action-oriented collaborations quickly, guide them toward measurable outcomes and make adjustments along the way.


Learn More about Strategic Doing:

Wednesday May 10th - Innovation Workshop: Strategic Doing 

This workshop is a SISU Innovation Week event and will introduce the Strategic Doing tool and ways to apply it in a general, community setting. Registration for Innovation Week is required. Learn more at https://nmu.edu/sisu/innovation-week.

Thursday, May 11th - NMU Strategic Doing Workshop

The Agile Strategy Lab facilitators will be on campus for one more day to host an NMU-focused workshop that will introduce the Strategic Doing tool and ways to apply it in the university setting. Learn more below.

What to Expect at the Workshop

Watch this short video to learn more about Strategic Doing and how the tool can benefit you. Liz Nilsen is the Associate Director of the Agile Strategy Lab out of the University of North Alabama and is one of Strategic Doing workshop facilitators. 

*NOTE: Nilsen states "May 10th" in the video, but all information applies to the May 11th session, as well. 

NMU Strategic Doing Workshop - Thursday May 11, 2023

Time: 11:00am - 2:00pm
Location: Peninsula II, Northern Center
(Box lunch provided.)

  1. Introduce Strategic Doing
  2. Practice applying Strategic Doing to a specific challenge or opportunity you are working on right now

Liz Nilsen
Associate Director of the Agile Strategy Lab at University of North Alabama

Liz Nilsen is the Associate Director of the Agile Strategy Lab at UNA, following four years at the Agile Strategy Lab at Purdue. Liz’s passion is for helping teams become engines of innovation for their organization, community, or region. Liz teaches (online and in-person), shepherds the expansion of the Lab’s programming, and oversees partnerships with other organizations interested in deploying agile strategy tools. She is a co-author of Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership (Wiley, 2019). She is a former senior program officer at VentureWell, where she provided leadership to the Pathways program for the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which guided 50 colleges and universities in redesigning undergraduate engineering education. Prior to joining VentureWell, she led STEM initiatives at the Penn State Center – Pittsburgh, was the southwest regional coordinator for the Pennsylvania STEM Network, and served as Director of Outreach and New Economy Program Development at the Institute of Advanced Learning & Research, a Virginia Tech initiative. She earned her BA from Stanford and an MBA from Northeastern University, and is midway through study for a PhD in organizational leadership from Eastern University.  

Jim Woodell
Venn Collaborative

Jim Woodell helps higher education institutions—and their partners in the corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors—to demonstrate their value to economic and societal growth within their communities and regions. His consulting, advising, and facilitation services focus on planning and building partnerships and collaboration. Jim’s career has spanned multiple areas of expertise and impacts, including R&D and innovation; education, training, and workforce development; and community development. 

From 2011 to 2018, Jim worked at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), most recently as vice president for economic development and community engagement. He worked closely with member institutions to develop tools and resources to enhance their regional engagement and economic development efforts. He served as the staff director for APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP), and also the organization’s Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO), advancing APLU’s economic and community engagement agenda. Dr. Woodell maintained APLU’s strong presence in national issues related to the economic and social impacts of public research universities. At APLU, Jim worked with member university leaders to create the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities designation program, and led the development and publication of a series of tools for university economic engagement—the CICEP Economic Engagement Framework—which are central to the IEP Universities program application process. The flagship publication in this series is Higher Education Engagement in Economic Development: Foundations for Strategy and Practice. Jim has also served in an advisory capacity to national organizations focused on the economic and societal impacts of higher education, including the National Alliance for Broader Impacts; MForesight—the Alliance for Manufacturing ForesightNational Academy of Inventors, and the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science.

Dr. Woodell also worked in academic technology and online education, including managing a large-scale distance learning program for Southern New Hampshire University, and has taught in a master’s level program at Marlboro College. Jim earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education at Penn State University, a Master’s in Education at Harvard University, and a Bachelor’s in Science in Television, Radio, and Film at Syracuse University.