Bilbao effect for organisations: Interim Management
If you ever have been to the Basque capital in the last 25 years, you surely visited Frank Gehry`s most spectacular architectual achievement – the Bilbao Guggenheim museum. Gehry designed a world-famous iconic landmark and as The Guardian wrote in 2017, „it revived belief that architecture could be ambitious, beautiful and popular all at once, yet Gehry has always said that it‘s success took him by surprise.“
In the 1980s-90s Bilbao had been a city of decay and massive industrial decline. Shipbuilding and steel industry left huge environmental damage, mass unenmployment and hopelessness in their wake. An urban desaster.
How to kickstart regeneration?
Instad of prolonging dying industries, city officals decided to start over from scratch, despite big protests. As The Guardian wrote, „(…) it was meant to be a ‚transformational project‘, a catalyst for a wider plan to turn around an industrial city in decline and afflicted by Basque separatist terrorism. It was to be ‚a driver of economic renewal‘, an ‚agent of economic development‘ that would appeal to a ‚universal audience‘, create a ‚positive image‘ and ‚reinforce self-esteem‘. All of which it pretty much did.“
This building has given name to an effect it created itself: the „Bilbao effect.“ A phenomenon whereby cultural investments are supposed to foster development. „Its true lesson is that it can’t be copied, because it came from circumstances that were unique.“
This story reminds me of how powerful visionary ideas can be.
Sometimes organisations or administrations need new impulses from outside their own bubble. And often this is a task for an experienced interim manager, opening new perspectives, implementing change, getting the job done.
What was your Bilbao-effect recently?
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