I'm no small fan of the lean startup movement for businesses. In my own humble opinion, it's a far better method for achieving success (or quick, cheap failure) than spending countless hours on a theoretical business plan. And, frankly, it gets back to our entrepreneurial roots as a society, before we had too much money to throw around on any idea that came along.
So, it's been fascinating to watch the world of urban design adopt the "lean" terminology. Andres Duany has been traveling the country talking about "lean urbanism" and now this story pops up in New Zealand:
Kamo is a small town (population 7,000) in northern New Zealand. While the town supports better placemaking and new zoning, they were not excited about an extended process. Instead, the town looked to the Lean Start-up movement to build a quicker process. The Lean Startup, popularized by Eric Reis, proposes an iterative, or agile, approach. Instead of going after one big project at the end of a long process (e.g. a comprehensive plan), communities start small, integrate improvements and build towards the larger end product along the way. The shortened process is based on Google Venture’s “design sprints.”
Kamo set three implementation steps: (1) Recruit people who can get things done fast, (2) redefine process to series of events, and (3) set up design sprints for specific geographic areas.
I'll have much more to say about Lean Urbanism, lean startups and the future of urbanism soon, but for now it's great to see more people paying attention in the literature.