3 startup concepts for city-making
The Lean Startup is a mindset and method for beginning a business in circumstances with extreme uncertainty, and for reducing waste effort and creativity. Cities are complex environments full of uncertainty and in public projects waste resources and effort are sensitive issues so the Lean Startup is a relevant concept. For example, a cliched example of waste effort in cities is the masterplan - developed with the input and enthusiasm of community stakeholders - which sits on the shelf never to be implemented.
In order to create successful businesses the Lean Startup focusses on gaining traction (i.e. measuring success through key metrics) rather than execution (i.e. measuring completion of initiatives). Too many projects in cities are only executed and not enough effort is put into ensuring that the intended benefits are realised. So, the Lean Startup's focus on defining and tracking metrics of success breathes new life into making cities for people when wrapped into the rest of the startup philosophy.
The way that traction is measured in cities through the lean startup needs to be different than for business. Instead of a profit-focus as in business (creating value for the owners or shareholders), a city-making exercise is focussed on impact or creating value for the public. Fortunately, impact in public spaces and cities is becoming easier to track through observation, digital transport and cultural facility use data, social media, and automation such as computer vision which can track various public space usage metrics.
The Lean Startup helps city-makers make an impact in their city through the following concepts:
The Learning Loop and Validation
The Minimum Viable Product