Roads or buildings?

If you want to make a long-term impact, build the roads.

Stewart Brand points out that if you compare two maps of downtown Boston–from 1860 and 1960, for example–virtually every single building has been replaced. Gone.

But the roads? They haven’t changed a bit. The curbs and boundaries and connections are largely as they were. With the exception of a Big Dig, a Robert Moses or an earthquake, the roads last forever.

That’s because systems built around communication, transportation and connection need near-unanimous approval to change. Buildings, on the other hand, begin to morph as soon as the owner or tenant decides they need to.

When creating an organization, a technology or any kind of culture, the roads are worth far more than the buildings.

How do we do things around here?


About the Author