InnovationLoop Finalist in the Golden Link Awards

The InnovationLoop, a regional innovation system in Västerbotten, is a finalist in the Swedish Public Sector Awards the Golden Link. A key element in the InnovationLoop is the Public Innovation DoTank, that Maestro Management and Nod-A developed.

The InnovationLoop is now being disseminated across Europe with support from the European Commission.

We congratulate Region Västerbotten!

Photos: Patrick Trädgårdh

Photos: Patrick Trädgårdh

Urbanity - Greater Copenhagen in a Global Urban Context

Size, scale and density are important characteristics of cities. The numbers, however, are often difficult to interpret. Therefore I made some graphs and maps comparing Greater Copenhagen to the largest megacities. (Here is a pdf of the graphs and maps). Greater Copenhagen is a Danish - Swedish collaboration to develop a border spanning urban area.

It is worth noting that there is no universally accepted way to define and measure cities. Most countries have their own system and census. But 3 definitions are frequent:

  • City - An administrative area, often with an urban core. New York City has 8,2 million residents in 5 boroughs. (An interesting fact is that the borough of Brooklyn has 2,8 million people and would be the 4th largest US city on it's own.)
  • Urban - The built-up area around one or more cities, often defined in terms of building density. The New York urban area have about 18,5 million people, which even includes places in other states.
  • Metro - Often a more economic definition. For instance all places that can commute to the city and those where regular shoppers etc come from. New York metro area has about 19,5 million people.

With 3,9 million people Greater Copenhagen may be the biggest urban area in Scandinavia and is certainly a large city. The number is possible to compare to those of megacities. To reach this number however, Greater Copenhagen is covering a large geographical area. This makes the population density very low.


Greater Copenhagen compared to the mega cities of the world (Click to enlarge)

The maps show this even more clearly. The Greater Copenhagen looks ridiculously large, compared to the mega cities. Is it then just a marketing fad, with a border enlarged until it held more people than Stockholm? Or is it a logical, economical metro area?


The Greater Copenhagen area laid out on a few mega cities. (Click to enlarge)

Well, we will find out the upcoming years. But there is one thing we can learn right now: Scandinavian cities are thinly spread out compared to major urban areas in the rest of the world. We could increase our density quite a bit without loosing too much "recreational space". That would spare both nature and farming land as well as make us more sustainable in terms of energy and transportation. And probably make our cities a bit more city-like as well.

Allowing much more people to innovate

A key part of innovation is developing an idea into a concept that holds water. A concept should cover four areas:

  1. Creating an offer: Exactly what are your innovation allowing your potential customers to do? How will you reach them?
  2. Organizing the production and delivery. What are the roles and responsibilities? Who are your partners and sub-contractors? Don't forget making sure you have the rights and legal clearance.
  3. Creating a business model that works. Who is paying what, where and when? How do the innovation become profitable?
  4. Designing the technology parts, if any. Especially how to get new/unused or reconfigured technologies out the lab and into the situation where they are to be used.

This requires resources; knowledge, expertise and money. Most entrepreneurs start companies in existing businesses, like a hair dresser, a construction firm or an accounting firm. They already have a concept, they know what they offer, how to organize the firm, the pricing and the technology. The innovator has to develop all this, perhaps even from scratch.

Historically innovation has therefore been reserved for larger corporations and the wealthy. For instance most of our clients are large companies that choose to invest in innovation. 

Now we expand the capacity for innovation to citizens, small companies and people in the public sector. The Public Innovation Do-Tank methodology helps people with ideas and energy work together and get access to necessary skills and expertise. This is being used for the third year at Meeting Point LyckseleThe last two years several companies and promising services has been born at the  event!

Lars Albinsson

Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister for the public sector, is shown around the fablab in the Do-Tank at Meeting Point Lycksele by Lars Albinsson. (Photo: Region Västerbotten)

Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister for the public sector, is shown around the fablab in the Do-Tank at Meeting Point Lycksele by Lars Albinsson. (Photo: Region Västerbotten)

Group working on innovative service for social inclusion. The Do-Tank consisted of 53 people in the ages 22-75. (Photo: Region Västerbotten)

Group working on innovative service for social inclusion. The Do-Tank consisted of 53 people in the ages 22-75. (Photo: Region Västerbotten)

This year's Do-Tank made the news thourgh Swedish national tv SvT (In Swedish).

Buildings and Technology: the need to work in paralell

Even in 2014 you sometimes get feeling that the need for light switches, fire alarms, electric outlets and communication connectors come as a complete surprise to architects and builders and in the final stages of construction. How can this be?

In my experience there are three challenges:

1) The design of buildings needs to be more driven by how it is going to be used, and by who. More explicite narratives of what will go on in the building, and how it will benefit people's life should be part of the design process. Then these kinds of oversights, and worser kinds, will be easier to spot early. Even more important, thinking on those terms may help architects and builders to get even better ideas for how to shape and plan buildings.

2) There needs to a stronger role overseeing the entire process from idea to complete building. Far too often the responsibility is shifted in the process from architect to engineering consultants and to construction people, in a linear way. If there is a person overseeing the whole process both problems and ideas can be brought up and dealt with.

3) If there is an overlap between architectural design, engineering design and construction, new ideas and problems can be discovered earlier, and be dealt with by the right competences. You will also have a speedier process as you'll work in paralell rather than sequential.

So maybe in 2015 we won't see pictures like the above?

Maestro Management is nominated to the Swedish Association of Architects Planning Award 2014!

Maestro Management är nominerade till Sveriges Arkitekters Planpris 2014!

För att hantera flytten av gruvorten Malmberget skapade och ledde Lars Albinsson en medborgardialog som omfattade mer än tusen innevånare.  Baserat på innevånarnas idéer om vad som gör livet i framtidens Gällivare attraktiv skapade vi en vision för ett framtida Gällivare kallad ”en arktisk småstad i världsklass”. Denna ligger nu till grund för kommunens planering.

Visionsprocessen finns här.

Den fördjupade översiktsplanen uppmärksammas, där visionen ”en arktisk småstad i världsklass” är ledande. Ramböll är plankonsulter.

I visionen finns drömmen om att kunna åka skidor, löpa och köra skoter direkt från bostaden, vilket omsatts i den utvecklingsplan för området Repissvaara som också uppmärksammas. ALMA arkitekter är arkitekter.

Om priset

Maestro Management och Creative Director Lars Albinsson är specialister på att organisera och leda innovativa processer där många intressenter deltar. Bland tidigare kunder återfinns Stockholms stad, City of London, City of Edinburgh men även Volvo, IKEA och Microsoft.


Maestro Management is nominated to the Swedish Association of Architects Planning Award 2014!

To manage the relocation of the mining town Malmberget, Lars Albinsson created and lead a dialogue process where more than a thousand citizens participated. Based on their ideas about what makes life in the future Gällivare attractive, we created a vision, called ”A World Class Arctic Small Town”. The vision is the driver for all development in Gällivare.

The process is presented here.

The master plan for Gällivare, which is based on the vision, is nominated. Ramböll is the planner.

One part of the vision is the dream of being able to ski, run and go by snowmobile directly from your front door. This is the basis for the development plan for the Repisvaara area, which is nominated. ALMA architects is the architect.

About the award (in Swedish)

Maestro Management and Creative Director Lars Albinsson are specialists in organizing and leading innovative processes where large numbers of stakeholders participate. Among other clients are City of Stockholm, City of London, City of Edinburgh as well as Volvo, IKEA and Microsoft.






Tech inventions are nice, but are not same as innovations, which Apple understands best.

Schumpeter, who coined the term "entrepreneur", made a distinction between invention, innovation and diffusion. In my view they are too often mixed up nowadays. For instance: the computer mouse of was invented by Douglas Engelbart. Xerox tried, but failed, to turn it into an innovation, that is to be the first to successfully commercialize it. Apple, however, turned that invention into an innovation. Later it was diffused, that is spread into a larger industry, by Microsoft, Logitech etc. 

I am not aware of any major invention coming from Apple, but they have arguably become the world's most successful innovator.  They have at numerous occasions been the first to turn inventions into commercially successful products. For instance, Apple didn't invent the touch screen or the smart phone. But they was the first to successfully design one that captured a large market. Later Samsung and other have stood for the diffusion.

More companies than Apple should pay attention to the difference between invention and innovation. It will help them to focus not only on the technology, but also the market, customers and other stakeholders. And organize their work better.

The first mouse, invented by Douglas Engelbart. (I have tried at his home!)

The first mouse, invented by Douglas Engelbart. (I have tried at his home!)


In a near future large Chinese cities will have to be reworked, again

The rapid building in China, to a large degree focusing volume and disregard of the past, in my view will mostly likely need rework and overhaul in a near future. In the current 5-year plan (2011-2015) the Chinese government plans to build 30 000 000 apartments for low income people in cities. This is disturbingly similar to the Swedish million-program and other modernist "housing projects" in the West in the ca 1960-1970.

The lack of connection between life styles, ideals and dreams of people and the brutal planned city will almost certainly create huge problems. What can we do to help?






So you thought you knew how bad things are for the paperbased News business?

This graph illustrates the fundamental crisis in the News business. I think it calls for a new model for news, that can take into account three things:
1) The sharing among people of Internet news. (Like in this post)
2) The need for a new pay/revenue model
3) The need to deal with the fact that reporting has changed. We all read news sites in other parts of the world. Ordinary people with smartphones are beating the reporters on times, place and accesss to people.

In my view you need to start from news consumer's situation, that is where, when and how news is consumed, both to get ideas for the editorial work and the way to get revenues.

From Business Insider


Flow Systems are challenging for cities

A major challenge in designing a contemporary city is to deal with the huge flow systems. For instance today I measured the sound level at a bus stop in Northern Stockholm. If it had been a work place it would have been requiring hearing protection and limited times of exposure. The sound level was equal to that of operating a chain saw. And what if a workplace should have 1-2 ton objects, passing by you within 50 cm at 70 km/h? Without any protection?

I think we seriously need to rethink and and rework the flow systems.


Eduction and architecture

Many schools are beginning to work on their buildings. They are realizing that the rooms and physical environment have a large impact on the eduction. Here is an important for the Content before Container thinking. There is a need for better visions of what should go on in schools, before we start on the buildings.

Two interesting examples:

Slussen again

The Slussen remake is in serious risk of becomming an economic disaster. The project does not in my opinion create enough value for citizens, business and the community.

This is just a another examples of the failure to bring relevant stakeholders into the process. Even though it is 5 to 12 I think exploring the ideals for everyday life of the citizens in Stockholm and other stakeholders would improve the project and the situation dramatically.