Archive for December, 2007

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Dec 31st 2007 at 7:08am UTC

Managing the Creative Class

Monday, December 31st, 2007

1.  Over at Innovation Playground Idris Mootee writes (pointer from CEOs for Cities):

Any atmosphere of crisis and tension kills creativity. Creative
people need downtime to recharge so always give them time to dream.
There is nothing called optimized creativity. Exploration requires time
and we need to accept the fact they may have “strategic time wasting”
mission as part of their job description. . A situation of constant
stress does not let new ideas to flourish. We should encourage them to
apply their imagination in the workplace and make sure they are
appreciated for those efforts.

Have faith in the process and the people and do not try to
micromanage their work. While routine tasks are important, you have to
give people the freedom to explore “white spaces” and work out what may
seem foolish ideas.

2.  Check out this Business Week story on how a “clouds,” major new innovation happened at Google.

3.  William Holstein reviews Gary Hamel’s terrific new book, The Future of Management over at the New York Times.

Mr. Hamel argues that these innovative companies realize that
employees should not be treated like 13-year-olds who need clear
boundaries on their freedom. Employees are on the front lines and are
often closest to customer needs. As a result, they should have power to
reveal to their hierarchies what products and services are needed, and
they should be involved in deciding how the company’s time and money
are spent. Moreover, they should be pursuing a passion or a mission,
not just quarterly profits. The implication of all this is that
we don’t need as many managers in organizations. Yes, we still need
some managers and some centralized processes to prevent an organization
from spinning wildly in all directions. But the best organizations will
be those whose employees have the power to innovate, not just follow
orders from on high, Mr. Hamel says. In such an environment, the notion
of a whole class of managers evaluating and re-evaluating each action
of those below them in a vertical hierarchy becomes nonsensical.

Here’s the clincher.

As insightful as
Mr. Hamel’s book is, it’s surprising that it has attracted so little
attention since being published in October.

Why do you think that is – and might it say anything particularly relevant about the state of business management these days?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Dec 30th 2007 at 2:49pm UTC

City of the Future

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Sprogcty

The New York Times asked a handful of people to speculate on the city in 2108.  There are two that really resonate with me.  First up from Kim Hatreiter, co-founder of Paper magazine.

The
island of Manhattan in 2108 is half the size of what it was a hundred
years ago; Seventh Avenue and Third Avenue are waterfront. Richard Meier’s glass towers are under water and filled with schools of phosphorescent fish; tourists come by submarine taxi to see them. … What used to be known as downtown types have all moved
to what used to be called New Jersey. Bayonne is the new mecca for
radical thought and creativity.

Next is Kate Kaplan, a 12-year old, 7th-grader at the School of the Future, a New York City public school near Gramercy Park.

The city will be all skyscrapers, no more town houses and brownstones.
… Central Park will be preserved in a bubble to
protect it from the adverse effects of global warming. … The Empire State Building
will no longer be New York’s largest building; it will probably be
replaced by a giant Starbucks.

My own sense: NY will no longer be the world’s center for creativity and finance and no longer number among the world’s ten largest cities. It may well lose its role as a magnet for talent and immigrants. It’s trajectory across the 21st and 22nd centuries will be similar that of Berlin in the past century. Among North American cities, New York in 2108 will be similar in size, scale and influence to Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  In the west, New York influence will be far eclipsed by London which will become the financial and creative center for the western world.  But, the world’s largest and most important cities will all be in Asia – from Beijing to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore even Sydney – some may morph into dense mega-regions of 500 million people or more.  North America’s most significant and vibrant cities will be the ones on its Pacific coast.

Your thoughts on New York – or how your own city will fare, or on the state of cities worldwide – a century from now?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Dec 30th 2007 at 11:58am UTC

Dead Malls

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

The Economist says that America’s mid-20th century suburban consumption machine is in decline.

By the early 1980s indoor shopping centres were woven tightly into
American culture. New cuisines (the term is perhaps too grand) emerged
in them, thanks to chains like Cinnabon and Panda Express, which did
not exist outside malls. They began to swell to the point of absurdity.
Canada’s West Edmonton Mall, which opened in 1982, has an ice-skating
rink, a pool with sea-lions and an indoor bungee jump. The Mall of
America, in Minnesota, has three rollercoasters and more than 500 shops
arranged in “streets” designed to appeal to different age groups. Every
morning it opens early to accommodate a group of “mall walkers” who
trudge around its 0.57-mile perimeter for exercise.

Artists and urban anthropologists began to note the appearance of
mall-based tribes. Most celebrated—and lampooned—were the Valley girls
who congregated in California’s Glendale Galleria. Frank Zappa’s
then-teenage daughter, Moon Unit, wrote a hit song that captured their
argot (“ohmigod!”, “no biggie”, “grody to the max”, “total space
cadet”) and praised the Galleria for having “like, all these, like,
really great shoe stores”. Mall-oriented films followed, spreading the
Valley girls’ culture like spores in the wind.

Just as the onward march of malls began to seem unstoppable, though,
things began to go wrong. In just a few years they turned from temples
of consumption to receptacles for social problems. The changing
attitude to shopping malls can be seen in two films, both of which,
appropriately, are to cinema what Panda Express is to the Chinese
culinary tradition.

Urban designer, David Lewis, has long said finding ways to reuse “dead malls” will end up being a much bigger revitalization project then rebuilding urban centers.

Do you have a dead mall story you’d like to share?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Dec 30th 2007 at 11:50am UTC

Music Models

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Byrne

David Byrne on the evolution of the music industry over at Wired (h/t: Brad Glonka, Kevin Stolarick).

No single model will work for everyone. There’s room for all of us. Some artists
are the Coke and Pepsi of music, while others are the fine wine — or the funky
home-brewed moonshine. And that’s fine. I like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and
Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man.” Sometimes a corporate soft drink is
what you want — just not at the expense of the other thing. In the recent past,
it often seemed like all or nothing, but maybe now we won’t be forced to
choose. Ultimately, all these scenarios have to satisfy the same human urges: What do
we need music to do? How do we visit the land in our head and the place in our
heart that music takes us to? Can I get a round-trip ticket?

Actually, I like both of those songs too- they’re hooky-catchy and they pack a punch.And, yes, I’m only admitting that because Mr. Byrne already did  The version of Umbrella Rihanna did at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo rocked far harder then the original version. Problem is there are far fewer popular songs like this, these days.

But Byrne’s article raises a deeper question. The great economist, Mancur Olson argued that  major shifts in economic models often go together with major geographic shifts – the rise and decline of nations or geographic regions.  Will this shift in the music industry model also cause a geographic shift and the rise of new musical centers?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Dec 29th 2007 at 12:15pm UTC

Urban Sound System

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Broken_social_scene_045_copy

My new Globe and Mail column on music scenes is here. A short snippet below, the whole kit-and-kaboodle after the jump.

Something
that has struck me for a while is the vibrancy of the music scene in
Canada’s three big cities. Feist and Broken Social Scene in Toronto,
Arcade Fire in Montreal and the New Pornographers in Vancouver are just
the most obvious examples of performers who not only have hit the
proverbial “big time” but are also critics’ darlings, with rave reviews
in major music publications. Arcade Fire leader Win Butler recently shared the cover of Spin with
Bruce Springsteen and Feist is a clear favourite in the Grammys, with
nominations for best new artist, best female pop vocal performance for
the song 1234 and best pop vocal album for The Reminder.

What’s going on? Does all this signal that Canada’s big three are on
the verge of becoming music meccas? And does it say anything about
their economic potential? As part of a new project on the music industry and its impact on
regional economies, I worked with Kevin Stolarick, a University of
Toronto colleague at the Martin Prosperity Institute, as well as
Charlotta Mellander of our Prosperity Institute of
Scandinavia and Scott Jackson, a doctoral student at George Mason
University in Washington, D.C., to chart the evolution of popular music
scenes and what they mean for regional economies. Our findings suggest
there’s good news coming.

SOCIAL SCIENCE: UNDERSTANDING HOW INNOVATION AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY GO HAND IN HAND

Why making the scene  makes good cents  for the rest of us

Artists are free to live and work almost anywhere, yet
they tend to gravitate to places where they can rub shoulders. Who
cares? Anyone interested in fostering conditions that lead to prosperity.

Richard Florida
December 29, 2007

Something that has struck me for a while is the vibrancy of the
music scene in Canada’s three big cities. Feist and Broken Social Scene
in Toronto, Arcade Fire in Montreal and the New Pornographers in
Vancouver are just the most obvious examples of performers who not only
have hit the proverbial “big time” but are also critics’ darlings, with
rave reviews in major music publications.

Arcade Fire leader Win Butler recently shared the cover of Spin with
Bruce Springsteen and Feist is a clear favourite in the Grammys, with
nominations for best new artist, best female pop vocal performance for
the song 1234 and best pop vocal album for The Reminder.

What’s going on? Does all this signal that Canada’s big three are on
the verge of becoming music meccas? And does it say anything about
their economic potential?

As part of a new project on the music industry and its impact on
regional economies, I worked with Kevin Stolarick, a University of
Toronto colleague at the Martin Prosperity Institute, as well as
Charlotta Mellander of our affiliated Prosperity Institute of
Scandinavia and Scott Jackson, a doctoral student at George Mason
University in Washington, D.C., to chart the evolution of popular music
scenes and what they mean for regional economies. Our findings suggest
there’s good news coming.

Music scenes provide a useful lens through which to better
understand why innovation and economic activity continue to cluster in
today’s global economy. Their clustering is puzzling because
music-making requires little, if anything, in the way of physical input
(such as iron ore or coal) to succeed, and they don’t generate
economies of scale.

Because musical and artistic endeavours require little more than
small groups to make their final products, you would think that
musicians should be able to live anywhere they want.

Music scenes have every reason to “fly apart” and spread our
geographically, especially in this age of the Internet and social
media. But they don’t. Instead, they concentrate and cluster in
specific cities and regions.

WHAT’S IN A SCENE

What exactly is a scene? When it comes to music, the term “scene”
derived from the early crossroads urban centres where rural black and
white musicians began to migrate and then combine with producers and
studio owners to produce remarkable new musical genres. New Orleans had
jazz, Nashville, country, Memphis, soul, Chicago, the blues, and
Detroit, Motown, hard-edged rock (Mitch Ryder, MC5, Iggy Pop, Kid Rock,
the White Stripes) and techno.

Scenes are basically vehicles for producing, consuming and improving
products – and they’re responsible for creating experiences too. They
represent “modes of organizing cultural production and consumption,”
according to Terry Clark and his associates at the University of
Chicago.

The real key to understanding a scene, he argues, lies in the way
“collections of amenities and people serve to foster certain shared
values and tastes, certain ways of relating to one another and
legitimating what one is doing or not doing.”

Scenes are to music what Silicon Valley is to the high-tech industry
- a vehicle for bringing together highly skilled talent, sophisticated
consumers, cultural gatekeepers who identify new trends, economic
infrastructure such as state-of-the-art recording studios and leading venues, and business moguls
who take those trends to market in a concentrated physical and
geographic space.

THREE CLEAR TRENDS

But music scenes, our research uncovers, have evolved dramatically
over the past three or four decades and continue to do so. When Scott
Jackson and I tracked the locations of musicians and musical groups
across 31 key music scenes in the United States from 1970 to 2004, we
identified three clear trends.

First, there is an increasing concentration and specialization in
music. The proportion of American musicians living across these 31
metro regions increased from around half (52.5 per cent) in 1970 to
nearly two-thirds (63.5 per cent) in 2004.

But one region stood head and shoulders above the rest. In 1970,
Nashville was a minor centre for country music. By 2004, only New York
and Los Angeles, both huge cities, housed a greater number of musicians.

Nashville’s rise is even more impressive when you look at its
location quotient – that is, the number of musicians compared with its
total population. In 1970, Nashville was not even among the top five
regions on this measure. By 2004, it was the national leader with
nearly four times the U.S. average.

The extent of its growth was so significant that when Mr. Jackson
and I charted the growth in location quotients from 1970 to 2004, we
found that Nashville’s was the only one that went up. It had, in
effect, sucked up all the growth in the industry by expanding its reach
from country to all musical genres, particularly rock and pop.

The second is the decline of crossroads scenes such as New Orleans, Memphis and Detroit.

New Orleans, the home of Louis Armstrong and the birth of jazz, was in decline even before the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

I visited Memphis recently. It is a centre of musical history – the
home of the legendary Sun and Stax studios, the place that produced and
recorded Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Al Green, Roy Orbison
and many others. While I was there, we discussed using this history to
attract retiring baby boomers to the region.

During my luncheon speech, my wife, Rana, sat next to Justin
Timberlake’s stepfather. Unlike Elvis, the original “king of rock” who
lived in his Memphis mansion, Graceland, all his life, Justin had moved
on to make his career in L.A.

During our Christmas holiday with Rana’s family in Detroit last
year, we ran into Kid Rock’s original producer, who told us that he and
others were shutting their studios and moving out of town.

The third trend is the promising one. Our research has found that,
although the music industry is beset by consolidation and concentration
around the big commercial scenes – New York, Los Angeles and Nashville
- there is a counter-trend brewing: Smaller, more specialized music
scenes are also flourishing in other locations such as college towns
and even in some smaller, less urban places.

In my book The Rise of the Creative Class, I noted the
connection between independent music scenes and high-tech industry in
such places as San Francisco, Seattle and Austin. San Francisco was a
centre for musical innovation and experimentation in the early 1960s,
producing bands such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Big
Brother and the Holding Company, with a young Janis Joplin, long before
Silicon Valley was a household name.

Seattle is the birthplace of grunge and the place that gave rise to
Nirvana and Pearl Jam as well as Microsoft and Amazon. Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen was so inspired by Seattle-born Jimi Hendrix that
he built a major cultural institution to honour him, the Experience
Music Project, designed by Frank Gehry.

Austin, the home of Dell computers and dozens of small software
firms, is the centre of a thriving independent music scene spawned by
Willie Nelson and kept alive by bands such as Spoon, as well as being
home to the South by Southwest festival. Along the running paths that
encircle downtown Austin stands a statute honouring the late local
product, blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Now Portland, Ore., Raleigh, N.C., and Omaha, Neb., (home of
financial genius Warren Buffet) are also home to rising music scenes
and vibrant economies.

Music combines with technology and business trends to put these
places on the map. It reflects their openness to new ideas, new people
and new sounds. If you really want to see entrepreneurs in action, go
talk to local musicians. They have to put their band together, get
gigs, market their songs, promote themselves, set up tours, manage
budgets and meet payroll.

The places where these music scenes flourish have the underlying
commercial ecosystem that is open to new ideas and can mobilize real
resources around the market opportunities they signal. And as one of my
former students once put it, music is the best way to market a region.
Creative people don’t like marketing slogans. But they do identify with
a city’s sound – what he called its “audio identity.”

MUSICAL MOMENTUM

Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are in a unique position to benefit
from their musical momentum. They are big metropolises with a legacy of
artistic and cultural innovation, great universities and openness to
diversity. Plus, while they are getting more expensive, they remain far
more affordable than New York, L.A. or San Francisco.

In a study of Montreal’s creative economy I conducted with Kevin
Stolarick and consultant Lou Musante a few years ago, we could already
see the relocation of musicians from around North America to take
advantage of the city’s historic and cultural heritage, openness and
affordable real estate. Just as BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is
a spinoff of the University of Waterloo, Arcade Fire is a McGill
spinoff; and just as Stanford University pulls in the global talent
that fuels Silicon Valley, McGill and Montreal attracted Win Butler
from his boyhood home in Houston.

What this means for the future is anybody’s guess, but mine is that
it signals the rise of regional ecosystems that are not only open to
new sounds and new ideas, but have the size, scale and commercial oomph
to retain key talent and turn their ideas into global commercial
successes. Once music scenes of this scale get going, they produce a
logic and momentum of their own and signal that more entrepreneurship
is on the way.

Richard Florida teaches at the University of Toronto’s Rotman
School of Management and is academic director of its Martin Prosperity
Institute. He also founded The Creative Class Group, a consulting firm
(creativeclass.com) in Washington, D.C., and wrote the bestselling
books The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative
Class. His column appears monthly in Focus.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Dec 29th 2007 at 11:32am UTC

The New Geography of Real Estate

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Paul Krugman asks how far is down?

“So I come down to the view that the price-rental ratio will have to
move most if not all the way back to historical norms. And that’s a
long, long way down.”

Brad DeLong and Ryan Avent weigh in.

My assessment: it all depends on where you are.  It’s not as simple as zoned versus flat or coast vs. middle.  This picture is geographically complex.

The Midwest will feel it badly.  Speculative markets with little in the way of a “real economy” have an even longer way to the bottom – South Florida and Las Vegas are headed a long, long way down.  That decline is just beginning to start because owners and investors haven’t quite woken up to the new reality – sooner or later they will.  Suburban markets are also in for a long tumble.

The places that will hold up best are urban markets where supply is limited in major creative/ super-star centers – largely as a result of global demand for those properties.  NYC – that is Manhattan – will hold up best, but San Fran, urban DC, urban Boston, Seattle and the like will weather the storm better than most predict.

One thing that is likely to come out of this, as Clive Crook and Tim Hartford are on to, is the reversal of the long shift toward homeownership. It will become clearer and clearer to individuals how inflexible home-ownership is especially during downturns in the market.  Leasing will start to comeback, not just among the working poor and middle class; it’s resurgence will be led in luxury markets by the reasonably well-to-do, who will not want to get caught in this kind of bind again.  And with the market stuck in the pits, they’ll have a plethora of great rentals to choose from.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Dec 28th 2007 at 6:14pm UTC

Most Ridik-a-lus City List Ever

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Click here, ugh.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Dec 27th 2007 at 6:08pm UTC

Turning Blue

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Two of America’s leading political analysts, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira have an intriguing op-ed piece in Sunday’s Washington Post (must have missed it while traveling) on the demographic, economic and geographic trends they believe will lead to a new Democratic majority.

[T]here are professionals, once the most Republican of all
occupational groups. In 1960, they backed Nixon over JFK by 61 percent
to 38. But as professionals — including nurses, teachers and actors as
well as doctors, scientists and engineers — have become a larger
proportion of the workforce (about 7 percent in the 1950s, and about 17
percent today), they have turned decidedly blue. In the four
presidential elections from 1988 to 2000, professionals backed
Democrats by an average of 52 percent to 40 percent. The reason:
Professionals typically used to see themselves as pro-business
entrepreneurs, but by the 1990s, most had become salaried workers, wary
of big corporations and the untrammeled free market. …

One key to this shift has been the development of post-industrial
metropolitan areas — places that combine city and suburb, that are
devoted to the production of ideas and services, and that act as
powerful magnets for precisely the professionals and minorities who are
most likely to vote Democratic. These areas include greater Los Angeles
(which now employs more entertainment workers than aerospace ones),
Seattle, Chicago, Boston and even Austin in Bush’s home state. Call
them ideopolises, and color them bright blue.

On one level, they’re onto something. The rise of the creative economy and the creative class is coincident with the rise of what Ronald Inglehart calls post-materialist values and politics.  And large metropolitan areas do skew heavily blue. But it’s a great leap of faith to conclude this will lead to lasting majority of either party. That’s because neither of them has come anywhere near embracing those post-materialist values. The way I see it we’re in a period of simultaneous polarization and dealignment – with lots of “true believers” on the one hand and lots and lots of others who are disillusioned with the process, parties and candidates. I tried to map this out a couple of years ago in this paper with Jerry Mayer – while it’s a bit dated, the gist of the analysis still holds up fairly well.

If you asked me who will win today, my guess is Mike Huckabee for three reasons – he comes across as a regular guy, he is relatively undefined in the popular mind, and he’s a governor. Plus he lost weight, hunts and, plays the bass – more evidence he’s a regular guy – sort of a cross between the old Bill Clinton, John Madden, and Dr. Phil.  And, if we use the simple but effective “congress people never win rule” that means none of the Democratic candidates – Clinton, Obama or Edwards will win, and the next president will be either Romney, Guiliani, or Huckabee.  The first two are self-destructing in real time, while Huckabee is rising. Huckabee is to 2008 what Clinton was to ‘92 and “W” was to 2000. As for what that means for American politics, have another look at my paper with Mayer. While Huckabee will come across as a “uniter” in the campaign, American politics will veer further away from our scenario 1, and toward some morphing of scenario’s 2 and 3.

My hunch is that of the major candidates only Obama can set in motion dynamics that would put the US back on course toward scenario 1.  But I am not so sure he can win either the Democratic nomination or the general election. Though given what I’ve just said, I’d be more than happy to be proven wrong on both scores and for Judis and Teixeira to be right.

What say you?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Dec 27th 2007 at 12:05pm UTC

Pop Pop

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Schiller

Housing prices are down 6.7% for October – the largest decline ever recorded -  according to the new Case/ Shiller data. Only three metros remain positive – Charlotte, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. The hardest hit areas remain speculative markets like Miami and Tampa which lack real economies, Detroit which has suffered an economic body blow and San Diego. In these markets, especially South Florida and the Rustbelt, the carnage is far from over (Chart via Seeking Alpha).

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Dec 27th 2007 at 11:32am UTC

Happiness and the City

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

It’s more complicated than you think according to this great little essay in The Walrus magazine’s Cities issue (pointer via Where Blog). BTW, I’m a huge fan of the Walrus, which if you didn’t know it already, is literary magazine from Toronto – sort of similar to the New Yorker or the Atlantic.