Director of out with the old and in with the new

I found this great Fast Company article about Hootsuite appointing a Czar of Bad Systems and Shopify having a Director of Getting Shit Done. The idea is that as companies grow and change some policies and systems that they have in place will stop working the way they were intended. Instead they become obstacles that waste time and money, and stop good things from happening.

This is a great idea for any type of organization. It would be great if it was applied to governments, if there was a way of updating systems and laws that were out of date. Canada feels like a country stuck 150 years ago when we made a bunch of decisions that bear no relation to the way things work now.

Cities also feel this way. A set of laws from a particular time encourages or requires bad development. Calgary is definitely built this way and most zoning in North America repeatedly creates bad urban form and prevents good things from happening. It often feels like we get the most basic things wrong and a lot of that is the result of the systems we have in place. The article observes:

The problem with bad processes is that they institutionalize inefficiency. They ensure that things will be done the wrong way, over and over and over again.

We have designed a set of land use bylaws and zoning requirements that replicate the same bad suburban built form and stop us from building good stuff. What if cities took a look at their books and updated or got rid of every law that promoted sprawl and prevented good development? What if we redid all of our zoning laws to reflect the needs of 2017 instead of the needs of 1950? What if we made it hard or illegal to build awful things and easy or required to build the right thing? What if we saw our laws as ever evolving things in desperate need of an update?

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