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Chicago’s Urban Planning Gets Results the Agile Software Way


There’s plenty of ways to scope and develop a web application. But frankly, it’s not that different than planning and implementing any other type of project. A recent San Francisco Chronicle article looked at Chicago and how rapidly the city moves on urban initiatives compared to San Francisco. The similarities between Chicago’s city planning philosophy and agile software development are uncanny.

Former San Francisco planner Sam Assefa, now director of policy for Chicago’s planning department, had this to say about Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley:

Daley’s “innovations don’t come as this grandiose plan or vision,” Assefa said. “It’s about doing the small things well and working up incrementally. He says ’Here’s an idea. If it works, we’ll set policy and require it citywide.’ “

And more great chunks of information on a San Francisco Sustainability Plan (sound at all like functional requirements?):

Consider the 150-page Sustainability Plan for San Francisco approved in 1997 by the Board of Supervisors. Of the 15 sections, one on “energy, climate change and ozone depletion” was crafted by a 32-member “drafting group” that spells out 62 recommended actions such as “establish neighborhood energy-planning groups” and a vague directive to “create high-visibility demonstration projects.”

Just another great example that the key to better projects isn’t more planning or acronym-filled design philosophies, but small, simple steps.

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