Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

This is the second part of a series on building a smarter city. See first post here

By Peter Kusterer, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, Germany

As part of the Smarter Cities Challenge in Dortmund, the Mayor asked IBM to help create recommendations on how to transform the steel and coal industry and train workers for  jobs in a 21st century economy.  The team of IBMers created six recommendations based on this challenge:

  • Brand image. The city should develop a unifying vision for Dortmund, and use it as a beacon for progress. The process should be an inclusive one that engages the diversity of the community to shape this common view. While this sounds pretty straightforward and some might feel this is not something new, it must not be confused with creating a new logo, driving an image campaign or some other rather superficial activity. It is about understanding, surfacing and forging the “personality” of the city – something which cannot be delegated to some agency but is at the heart of the city’s development. It is the answer to the question “Who is Dortmund?”

  • Champions and local heroes. The city claims many internationally recognized figures who, as “champions,” can help promote Dortmund to the world. Within the city, they are to be complemented by Dortmunders who lead outstanding organizations or programs and can serve as “local heroes” to inspire others. This should not be randomly appointed to well-known people, rather it relates the brand image back to the talent focus and therefore is instrumental to developing and attracting talent.
  • Talent framework. A shared, holistic view of talent – a framework – helps individuals explore their own talent, helps the community achieve an integrated view of talent and orchestrates the programs that support talent development. From their findings, the team suspected that somewhere, someone in Dortmund had a program to meet every need. But in order to connect to each other, to understand differences and identity gaps for action, all stakeholders need to have a common language when identifying, fostering, promoting, and developing talents throughout the city.
  • Social collaboration. A structure is needed to connect programs and people with the goal of fostering innovation, sharing best practices and leveraging resources. While the talent framework helps to orchestrate programs and initiatives toward a common movement, networking across organizational boundaries is key for innovation, as well as for developing and maintaining momentum. This also cannot be left to coincidence – it needs active management.
  • Program office. The city should expand on the current foundation by clarifying roles and responsibilities and examining opportunities to align with other initiatives to better leverage city resources. The  office put in charge last October needs to be more profoundly anchored in the city in order to succeed in delivering towards the common goal of talent development.
  • Portfolio management. A management system is needed to understand the performance of programs across the framework and aid investment decisions based on results across programs. Resources are scarce and therefore there must be a mechanism in place to invest and disinvest into programs based on facts drawn from the talent framework execution rather than anecdotal evidence of single, non-connected activities.

In other words, the future of the city depends largely on instrumenting (talent framework) the issue, interconnecting (champions and local heroes, social collaboration) activities and stakeholders across all constituencies, to provide for intelligent (project office, portfolio management) approaches for talent. Technology will facilitate and ameliorate results across all above recommendations throughout Dortmund’s journey becoming a Smarter City. Linked to a unifying vision embodied by a strengthened brand image, and incorporating tolerance, Dortmunders will enjoy a promising future and spread the word and their talent way beyond today’s city boundaries.


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