We can only promote people happiness when everyone feels responsible for contributing and when authorities learn to manage the system instead of manage the people. That´s what we did In the beautiful city of Santander. Keep reading to figure out how…
The breeze sweeps over the trees all the lights of the city. There is no way to know in this place what the next state of the weather will be. It can rain at any time, but it can also be sunny. Its beautiful beaches, its people, its rubble in time, show a city that has known well how to recover from its misfortunes. We are talking about the city of Santander, located in the north of Spain.
All its people, its tradition, its culture and how they have managed to overcome themselves over time, reminds me how a modern company should work. In a city, everyone can do what they want as long as they contribute to the good of all. Everyone is (partly) responsible for contributing to its success and a few are responsible for the whole.
The Santander City Council was my client three years ago. We work together on an initiative to bring solutions to the city through people empowerment. The Council was looking to involve the city’s stakeholders in its construction beyond the traditional solutions, generating a local innovation ecosystem with the opinions of citizens, the public and private sectors, and other agents of change.
So, to do that, I thought about a fantastic Management 3.0 practice: Internal Crowdfunding. According to Management 3.0, the practice is like a stock market innovation, allowing employees to bid on ideas they think are the best. Any employee may submit an idea, but she or he has to convince colleagues of their value. Teammates can vote, score or even get virtual money to bet and choose the winners. You get the best of your employees when you treat them as entrepreneurs and as investors in the future of your company. Because at the end of the day, the role of management is not to select the best ideas; It is to create a great system that allows the best ideas to emerge.
With that vision in mind, to me was the same with this project in Santander City:
- Any of the city’s stakeholders (citizens, public sector companies, private sector companies) could submit an idea and convince everybody about their value.
- The city’s stakeholders could vote, score or even get virtual money to bet and choose the winners.
- We could create a system where the best ideas emerge for the crowd.
The solution was to build through a digital platform (Santander City Brain) an ecosystem that supports the internal crowdfunding initiative. Santander City Brain brings together all the city’s stakeholders around the crowdsourcing of ideas and their ability to collectively transform the city. The community, which is sponsored by Banco Santander (an important national and international Bank), also promotes a local model of open governance, a strategic model that follows Santander on its way to becoming a smart city.
One of the exciting things we did was to make the initiative two-way: ideas could emerge from the crowd, but also the council could create challenges. Through these challenges, the city could take advantage of the collective wisdom.
At this time, the platform has more than 640 users (Santander calls them innovators), have launched more than 20 challenges and have generated around 2000 ideas. More than 100 of these whole ideas had been implemented in the last year. From ideas for managing residues and improving the beaches, to plans for installing giant screens where tourists can go up and see their selfies. In the words of the mayor of the city, Gema Igual, this initiative “allows us, as a smart city, to take into account the opinions of citizens.”
I think it was a great project and an amazing experience. It’s an interesting way to practice the internal crowdfunding technique and improves the lives of hundreds of people. We can only promote people happiness when everyone feels responsible for contributing and when authorities learn to manage the system instead of the people. With this initiative, we managed the system, not the people.
It looks like the passionate history of this city, forged since its overcoming, continues. Even though the sand of the sea may keep fading its traces.