Jeb Brugmann

The Agents of Change

Local governments

Tremendous effort goes into the preparation of comprehensive development plans, but often little effort is made, or resources budgeted, to develop the required practices to translate plan objectives into the designs of hundreds of separate development projects. Conventional urban planning and development control emphasizes the use of regulation and market incentives to shape private city-building practices. This approach assumes that developers and building professionals have the business models, capacity, and scope to create the new market-competitive designs that will cumulatively contribute to targeted outcomes.

The Next Practice innovation process takes urban planning from policy-based strategy to practice-based strategic applications. The process:

  • Seeds, coaches, and establishes alliances to promote innovations in city-building practice in support of public development objectives and plans.
  • Prepares programs for intensive practice innovation to be launched simultaneously with new development plans, thereby also creating operational momentum.
  • Facilitates and/or manages practice innovation processes, and the associated evolution of the alliance into a new community of practice.
  • Facilitates and/or manages the development of new urban development and urban services business models for sustainably delivering the practice innovations.
  • Develops proposals and plans for institutional reforms, including new institutions, required to support the new practices and business models.

Civic and business alliances

The increasing importance of urban development trends has prompted civic and business leaders to establish reform or growth alliances in their cities. These alliances typically build shared strategic intent, sponsor research, advocate policy and governance reforms, and instigate showcase projects, but they rarely match these efforts with new development practices. They therefore struggle to change the development trends that are their central concern.

The Next Practice innovation process evolves civic strategy into practice-based strategic applications. The process:

  • Helps alliance leaders develop a deep, locally-nuanced understanding of urban strategy challenges, and create a roadmap and dashboards for strengthening their alliance’s strategic capabilities.
  • Documents and renews local forms of urbanism that provide strategic advantage, or facilitate and/or manage the development of new urbanisms, focusing on specific districts, corridors, or city-wide issues.

Corporations or industries

Generally lacking expertise in urban planning and development, corporations make substantial investment decisions about city-based facilities and locations without a deep analysis of the city not just as a “location” but as a “market ecosystem” for business performance. In an urban world, companies require strategic roadmaps for engagement in the city at different stages of the firm’s or industry’s development.

The Next Practice innovation process goes beyond corporate location planning to help companies or industry groups prepare their strategies for creating—and maintaining—place-based competitive advantage in a single city, or across a network of cities. The process:

  • Identifies the elements of competitive advantage that the firm or industry seeks from an urban location. Defines the ways that these advantages depend upon the maintenance and renewal of specific aspects of local urban development.
  • Identifies additional sources of place-based competitive advantage that can be established through innovations in urban design, technology, infrastructure, and services. Defines the elements of a more optimized locational ecology.
  • Provides a managed process for working with stakeholders to develop the detailed specifications of the new urbanism required to optimize locational advantage.

Developers and building industry firms

The success of an urban strategy is determined by the availability of solutions brought to market for its implementation. The supply of new solutions is as constrained by micro-economic “givens”—established business models, standards, and products—as by macro-economic policy and market conditions. As in other industries, there is a constant tension between strategic opportunity for and tactical inertia against innovation. Firms that seek to be market leaders in the ‘next practice’ spaces of urban development—offering more efficient, productive, resilient, and sustainable city models—require a disciplined innovation process in which new solutions can be conceived, specified, piloted, and eventually scaled without putting current business at risk.

The Next Practice innovation process was first designed as a business innovation process for large corporations that were seeking to establish leadership in emerging markets. The process:

  • Sizes, segments, and targets underserved markets.
  • Establishes strategic relationships with user communities and stakeholders to co-create profitable new development products as well as the “solution sets” required to create a supportive market environment for them. Creates a constituency for innovation.
  • Organizes the latent demand in an identified niche or “next” market.
  • Generates innovations in product design, development process, development regulation, and financial models to support product profitability and process predictability. De-risks innovation.

© Jeb Brugmann, 2009. All rights reserved. May be reproduced and circulated with authorship and copyright attribution. Source: www.