1. Fun is not seen as a legitimate outcome or "real" city planning
2. Fun is not seen as profitable
Breaking it down:
Our cities are more than just infrastructure. Our cities are where we spend our lives. Places elicit emotions, for better or worse. When you think about the planning or design work that your firm does, what kind of emotions do you want to elicit? What kind of memories do your want your work to engender?
Because this challenge is aimed at sustaining the financial health of private practices in urban planning and design, I need to take this beyond the conceptual and into the pragmatic. My job is to make sure that there is an engine that can keep moving your forward, and that engine is profitability.
So, let's stop thinking about fun and profit as either/or and see if we can link fun to profit. Because who doesn't want to make money for fun?!
As Peter Kageyama mentioned in his interview with me on The Private Side of Public Work podcast, city officials are constrained. Private firms can often provide immense value to local governments by operating outside of their constraints, whether they admit it out loud or not.
If you scratch that itch - if you do the "fun" things that city officials can't do - they will find a way to invite you back to do more work. Yours will be the firm that gets noticed because you do more than just build things; you make people feel things.
Profit Side Action:
Market the Feelings you Provoke
Look at your portfolio and choose the project that elicits emotion. It can be something fun or relaxing. It can be something that spurs people to action. It is probably a space that invites people to participate in their own way.
Re-frame the way you describe that project in your portfolio. Stop putting features at the forefront of your description and start putting feelings and experience at the forefront of your description. This isn't wishy-washy oovy groovy. It's centered on human experience. And it's different from what everyone else is doing. Difference gets noticed.
Tweet a link to your new project description to @privatesidepub and @pkageyama
From now on, for every project that you take on, ask the question, "how will this make people feel?" Integrate fun into your projects and you will have fun making money making fun!