PLACEMAKER: Independence

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By Paul Carder @paulcarder & @WorkAndPlace

May I take this opportunity to wish our friends in the USA (and our own Jim Ware of course) a peaceful or hectic weekend, whichever is your preference! It is the 4th July, and that’s the National Day….big celebrations! All weekend for many.

This made me consider independence, and what it means today. We live in an inter-connected world, so the concept of independence as a country is arguably very different today than it was in 1776. That doesn’t seem to stop the many countries currently driving towards their own independence from their geographical neighbours. That is about power and control. It is locally important, but globally? Irrelevant? Unless you pay a lot of tax.

It seems particularly apt to quote Benjamin Franklin (in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789) who said:

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Until recently, Franklin was correct. But today, global organizations shift their operations around the world, to avoid tax. Some large organizations are arguably more influential than many countries. They have a level of ‘independence’ from any location.

Independence & Place

Of course, tax is only one reason that organizations choose to be in a particular place. It seems (to me, at least) that there are essentially three types of place – historic, popular, newly created….and combinations.

(nb., academics – do please send me references to any models which back up this hunch! thank you)

Putting taxation to one side, there are places and there are people – both far more interesting than tax!

Cities and people, in fact, are the beating heart of a global economy. Cities are rarely independent from their country, but they are ‘places’ at a macro-level, with an ability to create their own brand of independence. And educated knowledge-workers today have significant levels of independence.

Cities like London are historic (they have attracted people, and grown, over decades or hundreds of years). London is also popular (people want to be there) and that also drives the ‘newly created’ parts of London. Cities like Dubai are newly created, and popular with people, for different reasons.


Is there a role emerging, that has responsibility for making sense of all of the above? A City Mayor, and inward-investment professional, focused on the success of their ‘place’. And a Workplace Strategist in a global organization, creating ‘places’ at a micro-level, within cities where people want to be. And of course, the architects, planners, investors and real estate developers who physically create these places for both city leaders and organizational workplace leaders.

A useful conversation at the PLACEMAKER conference, where these people will meet, would be the concept of independence at a country-level, city-level, in commercial organizations, and for individual people and families. With increasing independence, where will (or where do) people aspire to work and live? In which country, which city, and in what kind of workplace (and home)?

To what extent is ‘place’ a critical success factor for organizational performance? How can the PLACEMAKER contribute, and measure their contribution, to high performing organizations? And how does this interconnect with successful cities?

1 Comment
  1. Paull Robathan says

    Is there a question now, given that pretty much anywhere is the same in terms of interconnectivity that place is not defined so much as it has been since the 1900s by technology, but is more about ‘old fashioned’ reasons – family, active pursuits, raw materials? Writing this from a beach in Ireland I feel totally connected, but also very different from how I would feel if I was in a City, or even at home in rural England. The interworking is the same, the perspective is different.

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