Has your place or space reached its best-by-date?


Food’s not the only perishable item with a best-by-date

Every place and space has one too

The good news?  

Cities, communities and businesses who get this offer great examples of how to refresh and innovate

Best-by-dates are being reached sooner, not because of a decline in physical condition, but because the value propositions and uses of many places and spaces are less relevant to current or new users. To put it bluntly, for a diversity of reasons, we’ve got many more options about where we go to meet our needs and aspirations. Whether we go beyond the digital device at the end of our arm. So a best-by-date is being reached more quickly, and for unexpected as well as obvious reasons.
That’s I focused my Contemporary Currencies workshop, at the Vivid Ideas festival in Sydney, on what’s needed to ensure a place or space stays relevant to current users, and is able to attract new ones. Again, to be blunt, that it remains viable. Whether it’s a commercial, cultural or community place or space, most past assumptions about value propositions and uses are reaching their best-by-date.

Just think about what it takes to get you to go somewhere physical these days.

Do you still go to the same places and spaces that you used to when you need, or want, to earn money, get professional advice, have fun, feed yourself or others, get culture, get fit and healthy, have a holiday, enjoy family time, or make the world a better place?

Probably not, because now you can do many of these things from the palm of your hand – your smart digital device. From wherever suits you best: from wherever you get the best exchange rate for not only your money but also your increasingly precious contemporary currencies – attention, time, energy and values.

You’re choosing different activities, and therefore locations, to satisfy these life needs and aspirations.

One of those aspirations, as much as you can, is increasingly to live your values more actively in what you do, and how you consume.


How do you stay fit and healthy?

Now you’ve got your fitbit, or suchlike, do you go to the gym as much? Or have you tuned out of exercise and into mindfulness?  Are you walking more?


Whats culture and entertainment?

Do you still go as much to a cinema, theatre, or art gallery? Or, instead, when you’re not consuming or creating culture via your digital devices, do you go to a street festival, a market, a pop-up event or gallery, or a TEDx or similar mindfest? Or has eating and drinking, or wellbeing activities, become your new cultural expression and entertainment?


Are you accessing or buying stuff?

When you need a thing, whether it’s a drill or a dress, do you still buy it? Or do you access it via the sharing economy? Or are you becoming more conscious about the burden of having too much stuff?


Do you have a time poor but values rich menu?

If you’re time poor but love delicious nutritious food, do you buy ingredients or get ready-to-cook meals delivered? Or get your groceries delivered, either from a major supermarket or a specialist providore?


Are you a local global activist?

As a good citizen, do you just vote every few years, or are you a digital activist, signing petitions and posting on social media? Are you getting involved in local issues because, thanks to social media, it’s so much easier to know what’s going on and do something meaningful?


What’s work and income?

To earn money, are you still in a regular job or have you become one of the increasing number of people who have an independent or contracted portfolio, which means that you’re at work when you’re at home, in a cafe, or in a shared solutions space, like a hub?


Are you nurtured by nature?

When you want to relax, or refresh your thinking, do you want to be out in nature, rather than inside or in front of a digital device?


Blended is the new black

Whatever space or place you’re in, physical or virtual, it’s no longer one or the other: either/or. Blended is the new black. Wherever we are physically, we’re also somewhere virtually, and vice versa.


Is your space or place near it’s best-by-date?

What does this mean for anyone who’s got responsibility for ensuring the future relevance and viability of a place or space: or nature?  If this is you, how will you know if the value proposition of your place or space has reached its best-by-date? And what you should be doing to refresh it?


Here are five things to help you find out:

1. Explore with your users, in a genuinely empathic way, how to create the best blend of physical and virtual space for them, which is also viable for you.


2. Understand how current and potential users value and combine their contemporary currencies – attention, time, energy and values: not just their money. What exchange rates are they expecting when they’re doing an activity in your space or place? What are they prepared to trade-off and what to they value absolutely?


3. Understand how they perceive the exchange rates you’re offering them, and identify any gap between their expectations and how they perceive or experience what you’re offering.


4. Think about the need or aspiration they really have. When you’re empathic, you can move beyond ‘buying a hole in the wall not a drill” thinking.


5. Take an MVP – minimum viable product – approach and create a potential solution that will give real time feedback in the most cost-effective way: in collaboration with your users.


If you do this, you won’t be left with an asset obviously past its best-by-date, you’ll have an asset that you’re able to keep continually relevant, and therefore viable.