Don't understand why Florida is so vehement.
The great urbanist Jane Jacobs has a word for this kind of person. What distinguishes thriving cities from those that stagnate and decline is a group of people she calls the "squelchers." Squelchers, she explains, are those political, business, and civic leaders that divert human creative energy by posing roadblocks and saying "no" to new ideas. What worries me is that, even when they are wrong on the facts, my critics continue to provide ample ammunition for squelchers.
Cities, regions and even nations (if borders are actually open to workers) are markets for talent and talent attractors (ok, call them corporations, but they could be loosely coupled). If they don't wanna listen to the "customer", fine. The market will sort it out. (I forget it's government; I suppose we are paying them to ignore us.) Still, you can't force anyone to listen. (BTW, my favorite book on economic development is Ripples from the Zambezi, by Ernesto Sirolli.)
"I described...the correlation between bohemianism and diversity in the location of high tech firms. The palpable recoil around the room at such a radical and distasteful recipe for success left me in no doubt that these civic leaders would clearly prefer to drift into a genteel poverty."
Recoil? Umm, that's not exactly a lukewarm response. Now why exactly would I want to relocate there?
I had an acquaintance that purposely would dress down at technology industry events (he lives in another state). Nothing bohemian or unusual at all, he just didn't get his suit out. He was gauging people's authentic reactions. Sometimes he was practically invisible. That is until a VC would come up and speak to him. Oh maybe he is somebody. He was sly.
I'm not even that sure that you absolutely need bohemianism and diversity themselves to do well economically. But I do think Forida hit on a fantastically inexpensive litmus test to see if an innovative company, maybe say in technology, communications, media, or creative industries should locate their HQ (or marketing or creative or engineering department). Now you know if anything quirky would fly there -- like WEIRD ideas -- can't always guarantee they wouldn't be radically and remarkably different or new or disruptive.
Recoil (and various shades of it) is easily discernible by the naked eye. Simple test.
Do something a bit different, maybe purposefully quirky and send a few employees that might elicit the highest "recoil" factor to check it out first. Tell them the whole company is like you. Stretch your persona a little and ham it up.
It's brilliant. Why find out after you move?
So that covers relocations and expansions. What about starting a business? You can use many variations of the same concept. Don't just try it out with the local chamber. Walk around the city and try it randomly. Do informational interviews. Be creative. This could be quite entertaining. More fun than being on a reality show.
Peter Drucker has written, "Business has only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results. All the rest are costs." And marketing essentially is a bit different type of innovation plus a dose of good empathy and influence skills. All "creative class" skills. Now if you are looking for a ideal place for other aspects of the business, perhaps the simplicity of Florida's recoil test may be of no help.
Now you have a better sense if they (i.e. your potential government, neighbors, new employees and suppliers) would run screaming bloody murder out of the room if Tom Peters showed up.
Weird Wins. . . in Weird Times. (Innovation = Easy. Hang Out with Weird= GET WEIRD. Q.E.D.) We must use every device imaginable to force ourselves out of comfort zones. My short list of “must haves”: weird boards of directors, weird customers, weird suppliers, weird employees. . . weird lunchmates and weird vacations. We must try and emulate advertising genius Jay Chiat, who once said, “I’m only comfortable when I’m uncomfortable.” Amen. -- From Re-Imagine by Tom PetersLuckily there is still is cool stuff happening right here in the Bay Area. (See no reason to give the ol' recoil test a spin. Of course, technomading and vagabonding are technically different.) And if there aren't cool projects here, as long as I can get a visa there, I'd be happy anywhere creative people are welcome and can thrive (that's asking for a tad bit more than merely being tolerated).