What urban visionaries can teach you about your organization

C2 team
What urban visionaries can teach you about your organization

C2 Montréal’s BlueprintLab looked to four renowned urban visionaries for business wisdom and clues to tackling elaborate systems. Asking Lab participants to build the city of their dreams one brick at a time, this hands-on installation was a metaphor for commerce and a way of finding principles that are transferable.

Can city planning potentially guide us through the maze that is business? Which urban design principles can be brought back to the office? Can bricks help us brainstorm? How might it look if you build a living environment like pioneering urban planners such as…


Jane Jacobs


A champion of organic, urban vibrancy, Jane Jacobs might advise us to:

Get in the mix 

Diversity is an essential element in planning. A cohabitation of old and new — incorporating different cultures, ages, incomes and backgrounds — all working together makes for favourable conditions to create vitality in the office or on the streets. How diverse is your workplace?

Remember: it’s alive!

The city is a living organism undergoing constant evolution, with all elements in dialogue. Ask yourself: is your company a living thing or a machine?

Go bottoms up 

“No other expertise can substitute for locality knowledge in planning,” said the famous urban activist. Is there a place for a bottom-up approach in your entrepreneurial management models? How can you listen and integrate the approaches of all your people?

Don’t dismiss density 

Urban density is a necessary condition for vibrant neighbourhoods, increasing possibilities for chance encounters and collaborations. What are the potential benefits of concentration in your company?


Take a walk with Jane


Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, a.k.a. Le Corbusier


A stickler for singularity of purpose and future-oriented urbanism, when it comes to building an ideal office, Le Corbusier might have advised us to:

Make a plan

The basis of his city building, the man loved straight lines and order. How important is planning in your industry? Do you make any room for improvisation?

Seek out separate spaces

In Le Corbusier’s world, spaces were separated on the basis of their functions. Is the orderly organization of a work environment a guarantee of efficiency?

Consider the machine

“A house is a machine for living in,” the starchitect famously wrote in 1927. How might complicated systems become optimized with science and technology?


Change habits, behaviours and thinking with new, strange, fast and radical ideas. In an entrepreneurial world, is it better to rely on disruptive or evolving innovation?


Le Corbusier: Gone, but certainly not forgotten
  • This past summer, Denmark’s Floating Art Festival saw a full-size replica of Le Corbusier’s iconic Villa Savoye deliberately half-sunk in a fjord river as a commentary on how our future looks today.
  • Also in 2018, the Le Corbusier festival took place in Chandigarh, India where some of his best-known city plans were laid.


Frederick Law Olmsted


Setting a standard of excellence that continues to influence landscape architecture the world over, this early conservationist might suggest we:

Preserve the spirit

Fully utilize the naturally occurring features of your space to respect its innate and unique genius. There is power in remaining faithful to original character. How can you celebrate and value the specificities of your company?

Create room for contemplation 

Use landscape, art and greenery to help meet deep, human needs. The democratization of access to natural spaces was essential to this urbanist, so how can workplaces promote a time and place (for everyone) to relax?

Engage with greener systems

To contain a city and urban sprawl, Frederick believed in creating green links between parks by making ecological corridors. What are the advantages of positioning your company in sustainable and complementary networks?

Picture the composition 

Frederick avoided fashion for fashion’s sake, favouring a pictorial composition with natural layers of texture and hues to create different perspectives. What influence does the layout of the workplace have on the happiness and performance of employees?


Wander further into Frederick’s ideas


Ebenezer Howard


Imagining that an ideal city would combine the best features of both city and countryside, Ebenezer might advise that we build a business by:


The only way to operate in our interconnected world, really. When was the last time you evaluated how your networks strengthen your business? Do you know where you need to reach and connect to next?

Being autonomous and complementary

Strike a balance between individual and collaborative practices. On what scale and in which aspects is it better to work alone or in a group?

Concentrating on concentration

Density promotes activation and animation of public spaces. How does concentration create benefits for your business?

Thinking about proximity and marketability

The quality of what you’re building will influence your marketability. How close is too close? Does spatial proximity with the members of your network provide any marketable advantages?


Indulge your mind


The C2 Montréal Minutes: Actionable insights for creative business leaders

This article is excerpted from Transformative Collisions: The C2 Montréal 2018 Minutes, a roadmap for progressive business leaders, bold entrepreneurs and those wishing to up their creative game. You can read it in its entirety here.


Further reading from the “Rise and shine: Becoming a thought(ful) leader” special:


Questions or comments? Drop us a line at editorial@c2.biz.