Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Kevin Roberts on the Heart of Wellington

Invited by the Wellington City Council to address business leaders and influencers at Te Papa on creativity, in the context of being awarded a WCC-sponsored Kea/NZTE World Class New Zealander Award, Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Worldwide and nzedge.com co-founder Kevin Roberts commenced by revisiting the 1991 Saatchi-created Absolutely Positively Wellington campaign which put modern moxie into the beige government town.

Roberts observes that there are 428 metro areas in the world with populations of more than one million inhabitants. Cities are an organizing idea of the 21st century. How does Wellington – population 164,000 in the city and 424,000 in total regionally – become a global leader? People figure centrally; the city's reputation should start with its people. Nancy Wake (where is her statue?). Joseph Nathan (where is his statue?). The brilliant and recently-departed scientific trio of William Pickering, Maurice Wilkins and Alan MacDiarmid. KR favorites Earle Kirton and Ken Gray. Because of the fissure they broke in Wellington’s crust, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Richard Taylor and their Wingnut/Weta crews have created a world-leading film industry. From magnetic resonance to Olympic composition to All Black HQ, southern harbour-jewelled Wellington knows how to cut a swathe from the edge.

The conundrum is that Wellington is the capital city; “contentedness is a problem for a capital; where is the burning platform? The challenge for Wellington is to radicalize the public sector. I’m talking about the difference between policy wonk and policy passionista. We have to radicalize the culture of incrementalism. It’s time to light the beacons of Gondor. There needs to be a rebellion against the prevailing orthodoxy of civil service. To be successful, companies have to create organic growth of 4-6%, year in, year out. That takes creative combustion that travels to customers at warp speed. It’s important for New Zealand to have a peak performing government sector, because it comprises about 40% of our economic activity. This is Wellington’s #1 job. All along The Terrace there should be outrageous goals that absolutely lift performance. Strategies, reports, plans and platforms are survival table stakes. Action comes from the “I” words – Imagination, Insight, Intuition, Inspiration and Ignition. One revolution beats a hundred resolutions. It starts with language…all revolution starts with language. Wellington is The Heart of the Edge of the World. That’s a hell of a draw card…here where the world starts.”

Text of the speech is here http://www.nzedge.com/speeches/come_to_the_edge.html

Video of presentation to Wellington City Council (4 April 2007 - 39 minutes, 89MB)

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