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The Grand Strategy Project
By Michael Schweibinz

Patrick Doherty , the founding co-director of the Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western University, was one of many enlightening speakers who took center stage at the 25th annual SRI Conference in early November. Mr. Doherty presented the essence of a multi-year, multi-stakeholder project focused on developing a new "Grand Strategy” for the United States (video and visuals).

The project originated in the Pentagon. When finished, it will provide a clear guide complete with policies and business incentives to ensure American prosperity and security for decades to come. The Grand Strategy Project is intended to position the U.S. as a leader in the global transition to a truly sustainable future.

The strategy revolves around three key factors: “The correlation or alignment of our economic engine, our governing institutions, and our foreign policy to meet the global challenge of the era.”

However, as Doherty emphasized, there are four key issues holding America back from attaining this alignment. These are issues that will persist—these are enduring problems that do not have quick and easy solutions—so they must be proactively addressed. And in order to maximize effectiveness, each aspect must be dealt with simultaneously—despite the extraordinary expense.


A new Grand Strategy is not being prepared for President Obama; rather, the objective of this two-year project is to deliver a grand strategic plan to the 45th president of the United States, whoever that may be.

One of the key first steps, which is of high interest to the investors and investment professionals who attended The SRI Conference, is to build an improved economic engine. Doherty asks: what needs to happen to realign the economic engine of the United States? What are the things that had value in the last economy but will not have value in the future economy?

Our economic engine is outdated, and needs to be reworked for the United States to be a true global economic leader. According to Doherty, three large pools of demand will power the new economic engine:

  • Communities. Suburbs to… smart growth.
  • Agriculture. Industrial to… regenerative.
  • Resources. A revolution in productivity.

With a more powerful economic engine in place, the United States could become the example for the world and “lead the global transition to sustainability.” The image below provides a simplified overview of both the plan and the sequencing of the transition.

First Affirmative is intrigued with this effort and excited for the potential of such a Grand Plan. We sincerely hope that the 45th president of the United States finds a detailed, well vetted, practical plan for the transition to a truly sustainable future at the top of the pile on the desk when he or she walks into the oval office in January 2017—and will act on it.


At First Affirmative, we understand that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?

Posted: December 17, 2014