Building Better Cities

Go Lean Commentary

Truth be told, it is hard to fix (reform) the broken processes of a whole country.

It is easier to fix a broken family; and easier to fix/reform just a broken neighborhood.

So a formula for success would be to reform broken neighborhoods (and broken families) one after another, and just like that, the country is transformed.

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This “bottoms-up” approach is also the premise of the Six Sigma Quality Management concept (see Appendix below):

Do not try to perform 1 million perfect iterations; rather try to perform 1 iteration perfectly; then repeat it 1,000,000 times.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean presents the quest to elevate the 30 member-states in the Caribbean region. It does not limit the focus to the state governments; it drills down to a subset level: the cities. The book asserts that reforming and transforming cities would be integral to reforming and transforming entire countries.

Fix the cities; fix the world!

This is the theme of these many source materials. Consider the AUDIO Podcast, VIDEO and magazine column/article here:

AUDIO Podcast – Building Better Cities –

Posted March 31, 2017 – Cities are among our greatest experiments in human co-habitation. Do they also hold the answers to some of our biggest problems? This hour, TED speakers explore how cities can change the world. Listen to the full hour here:


VIDEO – Atlanta’s Kasim Reed: How Are Mayors Better Poised to ‘Get Things Done’?

Published on Oct 20, 2014 – “Cities are where hope meets the streets,” says Kasim Reed, mayor and son of Atlanta. In this powerful talk, he argues that transformation is really possible at the municipal level. Reforming the city he loves was not just a matter of tough financial calls, but of really listening to the wisdom within the community.

See more:

  • Category: Nonprofits & Activism
  • License:   Standard YouTube License


Title: The Issues That Drive America’s Mayors
Sub-Title: Whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, a new survey shows that poverty and wealth inequality are what concern them most.
By: Bob Annibale, Mick Cornett

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Before he died in 2014, Thomas Menino, a visionary urban leader who served as mayor of Boston for more than two decades, declared that we are living in “the era of the city.” This has never been truer than it is today.

As the world continues to urbanize at an unprecedented rate, cities and their surrounding areas wield more power than ever. Currently over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and that is expected to grow to 70 percent by 2050. In the United States, 82 percent of Americans live in metropolitan areas, an increase of 12 percent just since 2000.

Cities are rich with diversity and serve as vital hubs of innovation, culture and commerce. The world’s top 10 cities by GDP, five of which are in the United States, have economies rivaling all but the 10 most prosperous countries. But while the populations, capital and political power of many cities is enormous, so are the scale and complexity of their challenges — making insight into their leadership important.

Motivated by the belief that “the era of the city” is upon us, Boston University’s Initiative on Cities, with support from Citi, recently published the findings of its 2016 Menino Survey of Mayors to understand the important challenges facing these cities’ leaders. Named for the great Boston mayor, the survey gathered the perspectives of more than 100 sitting mayors from 41 states on contemporary issues through a series of one-on-one interviews conducted last summer.

The survey’s findings reveal that despite remarkable societal advancements in urban centers, new and more complex problems are cropping up or increasing in severity. The environment, infrastructure, public services and household financial security are presenting challenges at a level that cities have never experienced before.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that two of the central issues in the 2016 presidential campaign – wealth inequality and the shrinking middle class — were also of deep concern to mayors of cities throughout the country. Nearly half of those surveyed ranked poverty as their most pressing economic concern. In fact, 48 percent of mayors feel that those living in or near poverty are the most excluded group in their cities; when asked which constituency they need to do more to help, nearly a quarter named poor residents.

What is slightly more surprising is the level of agreement on the top issues regardless of mayors’ party affiliation or city size. Mayors from cities big and small are highly attuned to the plight of their most vulnerable residents, and even in this polarized political climate the focus on poverty is shared by both Democratic and Republican mayors. That’s also true of the benefits of diversity. While issues of economic inclusion and diversity illuminated deep divisions among the presidential candidates, the country’s mayors were united in the goal of building more inclusive cities that are welcoming to all.

The Menino Survey provides a window into how our nation’s mayors think, act and perceive their world. By gathering and synthesizing the priorities and challenges of our cities from the perspective of their leaders, the survey offers a roadmap of opportunities for civic innovation.

It also provides stakeholders in the nonprofit and private sectors with valuable insights that can inform the development of new programs, policies and partnerships, such as universal youth savings accounts in San Franciscocommunity land trusts in Washington, D.C., or a small-business support program for public-housing residents in New York City.

These types of innovations, often forged through public-private partnerships, enable us to tackle complex urban challenges such as poverty and economic insecurity and build more inclusive cities — ones where residents can fulfill their potential and contribute to thriving urban economies.

About the Authors: 

  • Bob Annibale – Leader of CitiGroup’s partnerships with global, national and local organizations to support inclusive finance and community development
  • Mick Cornett – Mayor of Oklahoma City and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors


It is important to glean these main points from the foregoing source media/articles:

  • This is “the era of the city”.
  • Cities are where hope meets the streets.
  • Currently, over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and that is expected to grow to 70 percent by 2050. In the United States, 82 percent of Americans live in metropolitan areas, an increase of 12 percent just since 2000.
  • Cities are rich with diversity and serve as vital hubs of innovation, culture and commerce. The world’s top 10 cities by GDP, five of which are in the United States, have economies rivaling all but the 10 most prosperous countries.

Reform the cities; reform the country!

The Go Lean book studies the good, bad and ugly lessons from a number of cities (New York City; Omaha, Nebraska; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles City-County, California); the book then proceeds to detail strategies, tactics and implementation to fix one particular Caribbean city (Freeport, Bahamas).

The Go Lean book presents a plan to grow the regional economy and create jobs. The Go Lean book asserts that this effort is too big a task for just one Caribbean member-state or city alone; all the 30 member-states and their cities must convene, confederate and collaborate in order to effect change. As such, the Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states, and all cities. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs. Caribbean cities need jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. This roadmap calls for mini-cities, referred to as Self-Governing Entities, as a solution to optimize industrial policy. See a model/example here.
    CU Blog - Disney World - Role Model for a Self Governing Entity - Photo 1
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines. The origins of cities were for protective walls around the city perimeters.
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  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies. See a model/example here.
    CU Blog - Two Pies - Economic Plan for a New Caribbean - Photo 3

A mission of the Go Lean roadmap is to reboot urban communities – defining a concerted effort in a concentrated area – with empowerments like:

  • Transportation – “Out of the box” thinking to transport people to places; i.e. Streetcars.
  • Mixed-use Developments – Optimize communities with one building for retail, office and residences.
  • Healthcare … on controlled campuses – Facilitating hands-off administration for advanced medical R&D.
  • Improving Local Government – Connecting citizens online for more and more electronic delivery.
  • Public Works – Infrastructure projects elevate cities … economically.
  • Libraries – These are for more than just reading books in this New Economy.
  • Events/Festivals – Culture, community pride and revenues cannot be ignored.
  • Main Street – Local Downtowns can be tranformed for the Greater Good.
  • Sports – These Big Business activities can impact more than just the fans and players.

The book stresses that reforming and transforming Caribbean urban communities must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 11 – 14):

vi. Whereas the finite nature of the landmass of our lands limits the populations and markets of commerce, by extending the bonds of brotherhood to our geographic neighbors allows for extended opportunities and better execution of the kinetics of our economies through trade. This regional focus must foster and promote diverse economic stimuli.

vii. Whereas our landmass is finite and therefore limited as to population growth potential, it is imperative that prudent growth management be practiced so as to protect our legacy and still foster future opportunities for the hopes and fulfillment of a prosperous future for our children.

viii. Whereas the population size is too small to foster good negotiations for products and commodities from international vendors, the Federation must allow the unification of the region as one purchasing agent, thereby garnering better terms and discounts.

xi.  Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxvi. Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries, like that of ship-building, automobile manufacturing, prefabricated housing, frozen foods, pipelines, call centers, and the prison industrial complex. In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism… – impacting the region with more jobs.

This commentary previously related details of city life – elevating society at the urban level – that can be applied directly in the Caribbean. Here is a sample of previous blogs: ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ … City/County … Burlington, Vermont: First city to be powered 100% by renewables ‘We Built This City …’ M-1 Rail: Alternative Motion in the MotorCity Philadelphia Freedom – We can Look, Listen and Learn Book Review: ‘Prosper Where You Are Planted’

The Go Lean book and these accompanying blogs posit that the economic failures in the Caribbean in general and in cities in particular are the direct result of the lack of diversity in industrial development, and the subsequent societal abandonment. The region depends too heavily on one industry: tourism.

The roadmap asserts that this strategy is flawed; that while prudence dictates that the Caribbean nations expand and optimize their tourism products, the Caribbean must also look for other opportunities for economic expansion. Cities can be laboratories in urban civilization, but the requisite investment of the resources (time, talent, treasuries) for this goal may be too big for any one city alone. So rather, this roadmap shifts the responsibility to a region-wide, professionally-managed, deputized technocracy that will result in greater production and greater accountability. The end result of these “urban laboratories” will facilitate economic diversity and job creation.

This is the charge of the Go Lean…Caribbean roadmap, to do the heavy-lifting, to implement the organization dynamics to impact Caribbean society here and now. The following are the community ethos, strategies, tactics and operational advocacies to effectuate this goal:

Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influences Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Make the Caribbean the Best Address on Planet Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Protect our residents, visitors and repatriates Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Fix the broken systems of governance Page 46
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Union versus Member-States Page 71
Implementation – Implement Self-Governing Engines Page 105
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Re-boot Freeport – Sample City Page 114
Implementation – Ways to Promote Independence – Autonomous Cities Page 120
Planning – 10 Big Ideas for the Caribbean Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Lessons from New York City Page 137
Planning – Lessons from Omaha Page 138
Planning – Lessons from Detroit Page 140
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Local Governance Page 169
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Market Southern California – Learning from L.A. City Page 194
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Main Street Page 201
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Urban Living Page 234

This Go Lean book accepts that the current State of the Cities does not have to be a permanent disposition. Under the Go Lean roadmap, cities can do better; all of the Caribbean can do better. This roadmap is a 5-year plan to effect change, to make our homeland a better place to live, work and play.

Now is the time to build better Caribbean cities; the people and governing institutions are urged to lean-in to this Go Lean … Caribbean roadmap. 🙂

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – The Bottom Line on Six Sigma

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Six Sigma is a set of tools and strategies for process improvement originally developed by Motorola in 1985, but popularized in 1995 by General Electric’s Jack Welch as his central business strategy. Today it is used in different sectors of industry. Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors). It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization (Champions, Black Belts, Green Belts, Orange Belts, etc.) who are experts in these very complex methods.

With Six Sigma the maturity of a manufacturing process can be described by a sigma rating indicating its yield or the percentage of defect-free products it creates. A six sigma process is one in which 99.9999998% of products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 defects per million). According to Wikipedia, Six Sigma projects follow a methodology, aimed at improving existing business processes, composed of five phases, bearing the acronyms DMAIC:

  • Define the problem, the voice of the customer, and the project goals, specifically.
  • Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data.
  • Analyze the data to investigate and verify cause-and-effect relationships. Determine what the relationships are, and attempt to ensure that all factors have been considered. Seek out root cause of the defect under investigation.
  • Improve or optimize the current process based upon data analysis.
  • Control the future state process to ensure that any deviations from target are corrected before they result in defects.

Source: Go Lean … Caribbean (Page 147)

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