Every citizen should be an entrepreneur and a free-agent. From the time you graduate junior high school, citizens would collect learning credits and acquired skills in a portfolio for every kind of demonstrable learning—from engineering and skateboarding to car sales negotiation and waitress skills. All learning would be applicable and a value-add to employers. The city would operate more like a talent agency, providing citizens with the infrastructure and resources to leverage and market those skills with the core belief that everyone has something unique to offer, and those nuances are often what make job performance great instead of just good. This would also be supported by a technology infrastructure to visualize progress, and create an open-source talent network for every type of trade and skill (like Etsy, CreateHere, and Threadless). Companies would also be coached to translate skills like waitress service into something like customer service, operation management, or negotiation skills.
This is part 15 of a continuing brainstorm on the future of cities, inaugurated at the CEOs for Cities Velocity conference in September, 2009. We’ll post a new idea each day until we run out, at which point we’re counting on you to come up with something smart. Do you have a good idea for improving your city? Add it in the comments below, or tweet it to @GOOD with hashtag #cityideas—we’ll publish the best ones. Tomorrow’s idea: Ingenuity Ringmaster.