How Managers like Leon Churchill Adopt a Business Philosophy for Urban Development

By: Casey Carpenter


For every city and town, growth is reactive. As more people flock to a city of town for prospects, demand for resources and services grow with it. Popular cities like Chicago, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles have their humble beginnings, starting with a trading post and a few lodgings. They achieved growth by attaining one objective at the time.

Such is the driving force behind a successful approach to planning called "hoshin kanri", which is Japanese for "management of objectives." Basically, the method focuses all work energy onto a fundamental objective, which can only be achieved by completing a series of tiered objectives. City planners like Leon Churchill used this to great effect in helping localities flourish.

Hoshin kanri was initially designed for businesses, but other professional fields saw similarities in its applicability. Local governments, for instance, share a similar structure with corporations; both have their respective heads, departments, and means of communication to string them like a tightly-knit group.

The first step in implementing a successful hoshin kanri plan is to have a common goal. What does the city want to achieve in the next ten years or so? Simply saying "growth" is too broad to be a fundamental objective. The better question is: "Where do they want to grow?" Los Angeles has Hollywood, New York has the Stock Exchange; both are their respective definitive traits.

After establishing a fundamental objective, the next step is to establish a strategy: "How do you plan to achieve the objective?" For example, you want your city to be one of the most affordable housing markets in the U.S. Some strategies to consider include using locally-sourced building materials and labor, reducing the cost of services, and promoting commercial activities.

Two of the three strategies seem unrelated to housing, but they have their positive and related effects in the long run. Consider this: residents need jobs to pay off their mortgages and other expenses; otherwise, there's no sense in providing housing. With these specific strategies in place, you can now plan on what you can do to fulfill them.

Many Fortune 500 companies have benefited from hoshin kanri, which is enough of a reason for urban planning to capitalize on its efficacy. It's okay to think big, but city planners like Leon Churchill believe growth can be achieved by starting small. To know more about the hoshin kanri process and how it can help you, please visit bmgi.com/resources/articles/seven-steps-hoshin-planning.

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