Edward Glaeser’s, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier ©2011 has been enlightening. Most importantly he emphasizes how cities make people smarter when they interact with more smart people because it helps them connect and create. He also clarifies that it is people who make cities great, not things. Smart, idealistic, driven people make cities better, not great buildings.
Cities that spend money on buildings rather than helping people improve and have a better life was referred to as the “Edifice Error”. The Edifice Error is the belief that abundant new buildings lead to urban success. Good people are a leading indicator and great buildings become are a lag indicator. (see Money Is a Lagging Not a Leading Indicator) He documents the value of education and efforts that bring people together to help them develop skills abilities and common values citing these as the important precursors that enable cities to be great. As he documents in his TED Talk, “It’s Time to Embrace Our Cities”, income levels rise as population density increases. He also documents the more educated the population, the better that city does.
In other words, generating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless interactions such as education generates synergistic benefits when people converge and interact to make things better. Of course the pandemic makes face to face meetings difficult, however the technology enabling virtual communications are powerful and helpful. Another interesting point he discusses is the presence of poor people. He clearly demonstrates the obvious, cities do not make people poor, poor people come to cities for the potential to improve their lives. If people stay poor in a city, then things must be done to enable connection and contribution to improve. He also documents the value of diverse businesses in a city to provide the ability to ride difficult times for any organization.
I am not finished with the book, however I am amazed to see the same repeated themes as I have attempted to capture with the Paneugenesis Process to generate comprehensive improvements. From my understanding, people go to a city when they see and dream of a better future, or can “Operationalize an Idealized Outcome”. How good is the city doing at helping it citizens succeed? Cities help its citizens succeed by having having the “Precursors” of a good infrastructure and a good education system to build better people. Of course all this can only be possible if they “Optimize the Process” so they can create beneficial interactions. How well has the city done in making movement and interactions likely? This also means cities must continue to document or “Plot Progress” as they create the institutions and systems that make better possible. If progress is not happening, the process must be adapted, adopted and improved. This is another example of using Deming’s Plan-Do-Study-Act process to generate a better process. All this must be incorporated as we attempt to generate comprehensive improvements with the Paneugenesis Process.
Practice Paneugenesis using this 4 Step to Process
- Operationalize a Desired Idealized Outcome – Imagine and then clearly articulate the future you want that is not possible now
- Develop Necessary Precursors to make Desired Outcome Possible – Generate and bring into existence those things that will be necessary to make the idealized outcomes possible that do not exist now
- Optimize the Process to Develop Skills and abilities that Precursors possible – Continually find out what you must start doing, working with, thinking about and making possible that will in time ripple out to make that new idealized outcome a future possibility
- Plot Progress to document, demonstrate, and celebrate Improvement – Continually take note of progress and then build upon that success to make it even better
To me Glaeser’s work documents that improved quality of life can be created through effort toward an envisioned better future. Please share how you can or are using a similar process to generate comprehensive improvements. Please let us know how we can work with you to to generate pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
Please contact me: Email: BeWellr@gmail.com