how do you create a visionary city

How Do You Create A Visionary City?

It needs to be remarkable

If you were Seth Godin you would say it needs to be remarkable! You know, your “Purple Cow” idea that will spread like wildfire.


You need a big hairy audacious goal

If you were Jim Collins’ you’d start with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). Cities like Las Vegas, Austin, Amsterdam, Paris, even Victoria, all have a created visionary cities by doing something big, hairy and audacious. (they’re all REALLY good at something, or have something they are known for).

You need a social object

If you were Hugh MacLeod you would come up with a social object. Something people would have to talk about, have to share with their friends, it’d probably be really cool.

It better be revolutionary and designed perfectly

If you were Steve Jobs you would say it better be “revolutionary and designed perfectly” inside and out.

Create your minimum viable tourism project

If you were Eric Ries you would develop a minimum viable tourism strategy, take it to market, get feedback and pivot into another when necessary.

It better be fun

If you were Richard Branson you would say “it has to be fun!”. What’s the point of a “visionary” strategy if it isn’t fun?!

It needs to be fascinating

If you were Sally Hogshead you would say “it has to be fascinating!”. She was the mastermind behind the book on the 7 principles of fascination, check it out: Fascinate.

It better be on the cutting edge

If you were Elon Musk you would say “it better be on the cutting edge!”. Mr. Musk of course being the one guilty of starting not one or two businesses but three major companies all based on technology that didn’t exist before the company was started. Think about that, Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City all were started before the technology was invented to make each of these companies viable. That’s the definition of having faith in your strategy of being ahead of the curve.

What can we test and change every day to get better

If you were Jeff Bezos you would wonder about “what he could test and change every day to get better”. Amazon is famous for running millions of tests on their various websites every day. All with the goal of optimizing your online shopping.

whats your unfair advantage

If you were Peter Thiel you would need to find your “unfair advantage”. The one thing you have that no one else has. Mr. Thiel was one of the co-founders of Paypal and one of the first investors in Facebook. You could say he’s a bit of a visionary. His book Zero To One is pretty amazing.

How can we be 10x better

If you were Larry Page you would ask “how can we be 10 times better?”. In a Wired article Page explains why “moon shots” matter. Competitive advantage isn’t beating the competition by a 10-20% on a product, it’s beating them by ten times. Makes sense why Google’s products wildly outpace their competitors.


  1. Have a vision
  2. Have a team that can carry out your vision(because if you do it right, you’re going to get negative feedback)
  3. Adjust as you go getting better in time


1. Have a vision

Jim Collin’s would agree. You need a vision if you want to go somewhere. From a Hugh MacLeod cartoon, “The market for something to believe in is infinite.” If you create that vision, something to believe in, your market can grow to any size. But that’s the problem, most people don’t believe.

I like Austin Texas’ slogan “Keep Austin Weird”. You see these all over the tourist shops and in the airport. Austin is a bustling, growing city in the heart of Texas. Many online companies have offices in Austin, because of a certain festival (South by South West) Austin has become a mecca for the digerati and anyone serious about making it in the online world.

Austin wasn’t always the forward thinking tech hub in the southern US. They started somewhere, they close down a street on the weekend to make it easier to walk (6th street). Any they genuinely want tourists to come there and have a good time.

“What happens in Vegas”

Why not make your entire city have free Wifi, Tallinn Estonia did that. It’s a lot easier for tourists to share in your city when Wifi is free.


2. The Team to See Through Your Vision(because if you do it right, you’re going to get negative feedback)

Having the right team is of the utmost important. The greatest vision in the world will fall flat with the wrong people to see it through. Start by asking everyone what their thoughts are of the vision. Candid answers are what you’re looking for. If there is any disagreement whatsoever you need to bite it in the ass before you begin to implement.

You need a strong team that meets often because you’re bound to get negative feedback. Creating something visionary isn’t done by committee and you’re going to have critics on the sidelines telling you “you can’t do that”. You and your team must get good at ignoring the nay-sayers. Expect them, anticipate their arguments, give them time to voice their opinion, then do your best to tell them you see their point of view and try and see ours! HA!

3. Have a set of measureables and adapt as you go. 

Begin with the end in mind. Start with what you’re trying to accomplish. Is it heads in beds? People visiting? Tourism numbers? Whatever it is set the goal and then let your team go. You’ll be surprised at what they come up with when you let go of control. The problem is most leaders don’t. They set the vision and tell the staff how to implement it. Then when it fails misserably they blame the staff for “poor execution”.

How about you get real about your situation. No one wants to see thru your vision, get input and be a champion of someone else’s. Set the vision (with your staffs help), then let them create the end result. If you deal too much in the details you’re micromanaging. Nothing kills creativity more than micromanaging a project.

Also come to reality that there is no perfect plan. Plans are made to be broken. We need to be flexible in the future. No one knows the best course of action, all we can do is measure and adapt as we go.

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