Aaron Renn writes about the importance of taking action:
Indeed, if you look at the cities that have achieved notice for their accomplishments, it’s usually as much or more an implementation story than an idea story. Most of the transportation changes implemented by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan were not original ideas. The real lesson to take away from New York is less the ideas than the implementation strategy. It’s about a mayor who provided air cover and empowerment to his department chief. And about a commissioner who used very low-cost pilot projects, often done with little more than cans of paint, to create working demonstration projects without getting bogged down in endless planning studies and red tape.
True, some cities have better ideas than others. But the bigger divide is between can-do and can’t-do cities, or perhaps more realistically, cities in which its easier versus harder to get things done.
Renn makes an important point about the nature of leadership. Successful cities have leaders that are knowledgable and willing to take action, even over the objections of key staff at times. We know enough through hundreds of years of study what makes a good city, for example, but often leaders in both the private and public sectors are either ignorant of the techniques or unwilling to act on them. Those that have knowledge and decisiveness are in a far better position to succeed. Grass roots energy and participation is indeed important, but ultimately someone still needs to make choices and lead.