I’ve just come from giving an invited talk to the “Exploring Innovation” conference, hosted by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Andy Hargadon was also a speaker at the event, and it was great to hear him talk again and to have some time to catch up with him. The audience represented community development experts from around the country, all interested in making their activities and their organizations more innovative. I always learn a lot from the insightful questions that come from audiences after my talk, and this event was no different. Because my talk emphasized the power of collaboration and of group genius, many people wanted to know “What should I do if I’m dealing with an extremely uncreative group?” Examples given included city councils and city governments. My talk also emphasized the importance of connection and cross-fertilization, which led several people to ask “What should I do if my region is balkanized, with each locale focused solely on what’s best for them?” These are great, tough questions, and I have no easy answer for these folks. The real answer is that innovation isn’t likely to emerge until these deep seated structural features are changed, so that regional networks start to look more like the types of networks that generate substantial innovation. No single person can make this happen; it will take a concerted, long-term, broad change to regional culture and ways of doing business.