The 80/20 Rule


The hardest part of regenerating places is not dreaming big about the end, it is thinking pragmatically about where and how to begin. As we enter an era of increasing urban demand for neighborhoods and decreasing public subsidy at all levels of government it is critical that we spend more time thinking about starting small and providing practical steps for where and how to start. In other words, instead of spending 80 percent of our time on visioning about the distant future and 20 percent on what happens day one we should flip it. Let us call it the 80/20 rule. Our best chance of realizing big visions and dreams for many of the places we work is to provide real, tangible solutions for where to start.

Three ways we can begin re-thinking the master planning process:

1. Embrace the 36-month timeline

Three years may seem like a long time, but not when broken it into a quarterly matrix. 12 quarters of achievable goals and outcomes can help places keep their eye on the prize and achieve incremental growth in a short period of time.

2. Small is your friend

Focus on areas big enough to matter, but small enough to start small with minimal resources.

3. Solve the right problem

Stop trying to solve problems that don’t yet exist. Too often we spend time predicting future problems and solutions instead of just problem solving around what we face today