50 Keys to Success

Signs are all around us that what we see wasn't an accident.

Signs are all around us that what we see wasn’t an accident.

A few weeks ago we published a post listing 50 Urban Myths. It got a lot of response, thank you. Today we follow with a list of 50 ingredients for community building success.
1. Visioning: Having a vision is critical, a citizen driven vision is the most powerful.
2 Civic Engagement: Time always well spent.
3. Naming your problems and confronting them: that’s the real and true definition of an All America City.
4. Valuing education: You have to be involved in and advocate for your local schools.
5. Delray comes first, before personal agendas: Without a vision there’s a vacuum. Egos and personal agendas will fill the vacuum and knock you off track. Put the community’s needs first.
6. Big Hairy Audacious Goals That Are Implemented: Ambitious aspirational cities win. But in order for that to happen, goals need to be put in the done box.
7. Investing in culture: Delray got this right with projects like Delray Center for the Arts, the Library and Arts Garage. Culture makes your city unique.
8. Partner with non profits: Team up with solid non-profits to meet critical community needs. Build each other’s capacities to serve people.
9. Try to improve race relations: Diversity is our strength.
10. Build on your assets: Make the most of your parks and public facilities. Delray understood that it always had great bones.
11. Understand how the pieces fit together: Downtown’s brand positively impacts the whole city, quality schools drive commerce, gaps hurt.
12. Understand that downtown is never done: Smart leaders wake up a little scared even when things are going right. Downtowns boom and bust, you have to keep iterating and working hard. The downtown is the heart, you should never ignore the heart of the community.
13. Walkability: A big part of the charm and what makes this city so different from neighbors.
14. Understand that design trumps density: Push for good design, sprawl is not your friend.
15. Strategic density allows for sustainability; yielding economic, social and environmental benefits.
16. Understand that density can give you some affordability: A sustainable community needs a variety of housing options and price range, especially product in the middle.
17. Know you need open space downtown: But that space should be active and designed for people (and pets).
18. Value public art.
19. Know that outcomes matter. Process has a role. But you have to deliver. Don’t let bureaucracy stifle results or innovation.
20. Empower an independent CRA to be innovative: A well-run CRA can be a game changer. It was in Delray.
21. Understand that the CRA is a valuable tool and teammate.
22. Flexible codes encourage investment. Rigid codes stifle innovation.
23.  You can be flexible and business friendly but still have standards.
24. Dialogue matters. Input matters. Listening is critical. Tone matters.
25. Know there is a difference between making announcements and genuinely seeking input.
26. It’s a big city out there. And sadly the happy people don’t always show up: Effective leaders understand this.
27. It’s a job to do not to have: Effective leaders understand this.
28. Celebrate success.
29. Civility is important but it can be rare. You have to press ahead anyway.
30. Do what you think is right not what is politically expedient.
31. Real leaders don’t play dodge ball: Issues don’t magically go away, problems ignored fester.
32. Don’t fix what isn’t broken
33. Nothing is perfect. That’s ok.
34. The squeaky wheel shouldn’t take over the agenda.
35. Success is never final.
36. Failure is hardly ever fatal.
37. Cities can and must be entrepreneurial.
38. Always encourage civic pride.
39. People come and they go. Some are irreplaceable: life surely goes on, but people matter. If the right ones show up you succeed, if the wrong ones takes over, you risk it all.
40. There’s a need for a woodshed. To remind leaders that they are stewards.
41. Stay focused on the big picture.
42. Let the manager manage. Let the department heads run their departments. Encourage them to work together. Hold everybody accountable, but accountability does not have to look like punishment.
43. “How may I help you” is superior to “I’m going to stop you”.
44. Promotions are important. Cities need to market and to have quality events.
45. Good special events are important.
46. Encourage people to serve. Get them involved. Keep them involved. Thank them for their involvement 
47. Don’t create policy in a vacuum. Ask the end user or the impacted or the people you hope to benefit.
48. Put good people on city boards.
49. Elected officials serve us. We don’t serve them.
50. Complacency is a killer
Bonus. Don’t major in the minor.