Lessons from Manchester, England

When I was a strapping young lad living in rural northwest England, we used to go to Manchester for city things like department store shopping and seeing recent movie releases. Manchester was the only place for it. And yet, back in the Late 1970s and early 1980s, Manchester was a dump.

Over the years, as an avid Manchester United fan, I have heard rumors of Manchester’s rise from the ashes. As many will know, Manchester was a serious player in the English Industrial Revolutions. Red brick factories coating the gentle curves of Greater Manchester. I say Greater Manchester because that’s the name of the county and its aspirations. These factories and accompanying terraced housing for the workers lay in a slow decay, the communities there decomposing like mulch. And like mulch, people eventually saw the goodness and use for the place.

Okay, so I was never really strapping, but Manchester’s resurrection is real and stands as a beacon of hope for other ailing cities. An article in the Los Angeles Times, "Rust Belt Eyes Europe," shares a little insight into how cities like Detroit are learning from Manchester and other post-industrial cities in Europe how to reinvent and stay relevant.

In the case of Manchester, there has apparently been a focus on becoming a center for digital entertainment technology. Suddenly people don’t scoff when you say you had a great meal in Manchester. Or that you bought some really great gear at a shop that had fresh stuff you couldn’t find elsewhere.

The key to this transformation? As the article points out, Marja Winters, deputy director of Detroit’s Planning and Development, who visited Manchester and other European beacons of hope, “Vision leads – really just having a vision that’s out there that’s been bought into by the community.”

The other, grittier companion to vision was shared by Mike Emmerich, chief executive of Manchester’s Commission for the New Economy, in typical Mancunian style, “We’ve been sweating a model of civic entrepreneurship bloody hard for 20 years now.”

That’s why I love Manchester. And why brands should heed the lessons of this once great, hopefully soon to be great again, Manchester. Whether you’re a small start-up, a solid, middle of the market performer or a powerhouse brand in the height of domination, a shared vision is vital…as well as the hard work it takes to achieve that vision.

The core to a strong vision is to capture and milk your core story. The core story is what makes your vision human. What gives it legs and breath in its lungs. It’s how people connect with your journey and gives them access to connect and participate.

So, I say, Greater Manchester indeed!

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Reader Comments (1)

these are very good and valid lessons.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDIY Conservatory

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