Creating Vibrant City Environments for a Thriving State Economy

I recently sat on a panel at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Annual Conference.  The topic was Creating Vibrant City Environments for a Thriving State Economy.  I opened with the following.

The truth is that we are seeing a decline in blue collar jobs.  The gap between the high wage of the creative class and the lower wage of the service class is growing every quarter.  Furthermore, because creatives are not dependent on physical buildings the way the service/manufacturing class is they are starting to become more geographically concentrated.  Flocking towards cities that offer a wide variety of diversity and density of talent.

The only way we can combat this is to increase the number of people working in the creative class.  It is fundamental to understand that every human is born creative.  Until we start utilizing and developing the full creative potential in each of us we can’t truly grow and develop our economy to it’s full capacity.


The future of economic development demands that we invest in people.  We have to step outside our communities and look to develop humanity itself in order to unlock our futures.

There were a list of 25 questions that we took time answering.  I would like to turn those questions into a small series.  Where I will list the question and provide my response in hope that you will build on it and give your opinion.

Encouraging Institutional Innovation By Changing How We Educate

John Hagel’s Edge Perspectives has an excellent article on challenging mindsets from reverse innovation to innovation blowback. It reinforces our mindset in why we are passionate about how Gangplank is structured and why concepts brought out in Gangplank Jr are so necessary for our future.

Their research highlights that innovation in the next wave will not be one centered around products.

“We drew attention to a different form of innovation – institutional innovation… we saw entrepreneurs re-thinking institutional arrangements… offering all participants an opportunity to learn faster and innovate more effectively by working together. While Western companies were lured into various forms of financial leverage, these entrepreneurs were developing sophisticated approaches to capability leverage in scalable business networks that could generate not just one product innovation, but an accelerating stream of product and service innovations.”

They emphasize that it is fundamentally different than how we currently perceive innovation. Notice that it is focused on TRUST and FLEXIBILITY. It is not a coincidence that Gangplank Manifesto is centered around people trusting each other. Agility of an organization as well as it’s tools are a by product.

“Institutional innovation is different – it defines new ways of working together, ways that can scale much more effectively across large numbers of very diverse enterprises. It provides ways to flexibly reconfigure capability while at the same time building long-term trust based relationships that help participants to learn faster.”

We like to think that Gangplank is currently the only workspace of it’s kind. A truly collaborative workspace driving a new economy. That economy comes from the disruptive power of institutional innovation. I suspect you will see a lot more of it in the future.

“Institutional innovation has enormous power to disrupt and drive major new forms of economic value creation and capture. Much of its power stems from its ability to blindside incumbents who hold onto traditional mindsets.”

We believe the core of Gangplank Jr is teaching the next generation to embrace scalable collaborative approaches to the work they engage in and in forming the solutions to the problems they face. We believe they have more to teach us than we have to teach them.

“Until and unless Western executives begin to aggressively challenge these assumptions and awaken to the potential of institutional innovation, they will remain vulnerable to attack. They must begin to recognize that the most promising forms of innovation emerging in developing economies are not at the level of individual products or services but rather at a much deeper level – novel approaches to scalable peer learning shaped by institutional innovation.”