If you have a nagging thought or sneaking suspicion that your organization operates in a 'siloed' manner that is not holistic, lacks clarity regarding how its parts connect, and struggles with issues of overlap, redundancy, and fragmentation, this series is for you."
What is it?
What is 360 degree planning, and why is it important for urban planning and management professionals to practice it? It is a systems thinking approach that involves thinking holistically about the wider system an organization and its efforts are involved within, so that professionals can take action after understanding the big picture, how the parts connect, and their role. For urban planning and management, the urban “system” centers on the soft and hard infrastructure elements that combine to make it work, but it also includes all the people inside the system and leading parts of the system. People make individual decisions each day, which en masse manifest as larger trends. Leaders, formal or informal, may hold power and influence over various elements of soft and hard infrastructure. The terms "soft" and "hard" infrastructure refer to the degree to which the element depends upon built (i.e., hard) components to complete its purpose. For example, transportation infrastructure relies primarily on built components, such as roads and bridges, while education infrastructure leans towards non-built (i.e., soft) components such as teachers and lesson plans. While they both have aspects of soft and hard, they tend to depend on one more than the other, which helps to classify them in general. The educational article series will be focused on the soft and hard infrastructure elements that combine to make an urban system function.
For whom is it?
The primary audience of this series includes executives and managers working on urban planning and management in the public sector. Though others may benefit, the series is targeted at such an audience because they tend to hold decision-making authority and often operate at a level that oversees multiple departments or divisions. Alternatively, they may have the power to set the direction of an individual department or division as a manager. In short, they are well-positioned to address silos and integrate systems thinking into the organization. The strategic direction executives and managers take for an organization correlates with the organization's specific role in the urban system, actions taken to change the urban system, and how funding is spent in pursuit of such changes. This is why the series is focused on the professional and their strategic, high level approach. To shape our urban areas, we must first shape our own minds and thinking in order to take holistic, big picture actions.
If you have a nagging thought or sneaking suspicion that your organization operates in a "siloed" manner that is not holistic, lacks clarity regarding how its parts connect, and struggles with issues of overlap, redundancy, and fragmentation, this series is for you. If you think that urban systems and interdependencies within your work areas exist, and you’d like to carry your work forward in a more holistic manner, keep reading. If you are not sure which work areas to protect in times of a budget crunch or how to talk about the parts of the organization feeding into a united vision, you’ll appreciate this series. If you hear talk of government “silos” reducing effectiveness and nod your head in agreement but are thinking, “yeah, but what can I actually do about that,” you’re in the right place.
How is it useful?
Executives and managers often work on strategic plans to set the tone, vision, and priorities of the organization. They may also track their performance and progress according to performance measurement systems for monitoring and evaluation purposes. They may be considering reorganization, but are unsure where to begin or what logic a new organizational pattern should follow. This series can help with all of that and more. You may consider Civic Sphere for assistance on such projects, or you may leave the series with the information you need to move your organization forward. I hope you find the guidance useful enough to take action, transforming the way you think, your organization works, and urban systems thrive.
What are the articles in the series?