LOCAL AUTHORITY PROPERTY AND EMERGENT PLATFORMS

By WiT, Feb 27 2014 02:46PM

First Posted November 2010 - John Mitchell


Reading Steven Johnson’s fascinating book Where Good Ideas Come From, and a conversation over lunch with a manager from a community trust organisation have really got me thinking.


Steven Johnson explores the concept of the reef as an ‘emergent platform’ supporting a rich and diverse ecosystem, where waste is recycled to feed the growth of the system. He compares this with the rich, diverse and innovative networks that have developed ‘virtually’ around the platform of the Internet, and physically around the eighteenth century coffee house and it’s modern day equivalents. He also suggests that creating ‘platforms’ to support innovation and information flow might be an important role for government.


In the current climate of massive public spending cuts, many Local Authorities are rushing to offload buildings and public spaces that they can no longer afford to service, run or maintain. Is there an opportunity to use these discarded spaces to nurture and grow innovative community ecosystems of information, support and services? And if so, around what principles might they be fashioned?


Working from the principles of the living system of the coral reef might suggest that we try to create ‘platforms’ where:

Organisations with synergy and mutual dependence coexist


Diversity is encouraged, and people and organisations from the ‘edge’ of the system are actively engaged


Multiple connections are supported and facilitated – planned and accidental, and real and virtual


A culture is developed that is open to innovation and experimentation


The culture and the space are invitational


There is ‘sufficient’ structure


There is time and space for reflecting and nurturing ideas


These principles would equally apply to:


The occupation, arrangement and layout of physical space(s)


Organisational structures and leadership


Relationships and ethos

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