Discover how citizens of Bogotá used transformative scenarios to shape new futures for their city.
In his welcome to a team of 150 citizens working on creating a better future for the city of Bogotá, Jorge Mario Díaz, Vice President of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, said, “The scenarios tell us it’s really about the kind of leadership we will choose over the next 10 years.”
Bogotá, like many large cities, faces major challenges related to governance, inclusion, education, mobility, and environment. In 2014, the Chamber and the Office of the Mayor of Bogotá collaborated to convene a transformative scenario process as an alternative to a conventional visioning process for the city. “We specifically chose to use scenarios because we knew they would give us a different perspective on how to move forward,” said Susana Muhamad, Secretary of the Environment for the city.
In 2014, our colleagues at the Bogotá-based Centro de Liderazgo y Gestión (CLG) (liderazgoygestion.com) approached Reos Partners to work on this project together. CLG and Reos Partners facilitated the transformative scenarios process from September to November 2014 with 34 thinkers and decision-makers from diverse backgrounds across the city.
Three Kinds of Leadership
This Scenario Team created three stories about possible futures for Bogotá, all named according to different styles of leadership. In “The Crab Walk,” leaders in Bogotá continue to act from their particular perspectives, making incremental headway on issues, but like crabs, they often run into each another and take one step forward and two steps back. In “Flight of the Geese,” leaders take turns bearing the challenges and fatigue inherent in flying at the front of the pack. As people alternate in directing the whole, different ideas and styles enrich the process. In the final scenario, “Honeycomb,” leaders work simultaneously to co-create their reality through public institutions. In this scenario, leadership is coordinated, and people collaborate on constructing different aspects of the city, like bees in a beehive.
Implications for the Future
In June 2015, the Scenario Team, Chamber of Commerce, Office of the Mayor, and CLG invited their larger networks to consider the implications of the scenarios for the city and to choose initiatives to work on together toward transformative change. In a four-day Implications Workshop, team members co-created a series of initiatives for the city’s future.
Workshop participants used the scenarios as touchstones against which proposed initiatives were measured. “How robust will your proposed initiatives be if any one of the three scenarios becomes reality?” asked Adam Kahane, Director of Reos Partners. Participants used the three scenarios to decide which of dozens of potential projects were most feasible and resilient.
Five Areas of Action
In the end, the change agents who attended the Implications Meeting agreed initiatives in five areas of action. They committed to working on projects that support: (1) Public participation and ownership—for both government staff and citizens, (2) An innovative and intelligent capital region, including the urban centre and the whole peri-urban and rural region that interacts with the city, (3) Education, (4) A capital region known nationally and internationally for environmental sustainability, and (5) Collective agreements for redistribution and equity. All of these projects are now being implemented.
“It’s amazing to see that the views of everyone here are visible in our final product,” said one participant at the end of the process. “This exercise gives me hope that we can do things differently in Bogotá.”
“We are not pretending to do more or less than to have a healthy and open debate about something the city has been asking for for some time now: where we are going and what shared aspiration can bring us together.”
— Ernesto Cortes Fierro, editor in chief of El Tiempo newspaper and member of the Bogota 2025 team
“The exercise demonstrated that the inevitable differences of opinion are not an insurmountable obstacle to creating a shared agenda. Our country imperatively needs a new dialogue and a new way to face the challenges of our development.”
— Gustavo Mutis, director of of the Center for Leadership and Management
“The construction of a better city lies in the hands of all of us who live in it, which is why this exercise hopes to involve the greatest possible number of citizens. It is all about establishing a space of dialogue and co-creation, recognizing our diversity but with a common purpose.”
— Mónica de Greiff, president of the Chamber of Comerce of Bogota