Organisational Development for Smart Cities

This theme paper introduces the key organisational development structures and challenges involved when building new, Smart municipal organisations.

Download PDF

Or find out more below

Organisational Development
for Smart Cities

Evolving into a Smart city is a complex and challenging process. Central to this is how municipalities develop new structures and processes right across their organisation and support their staff to make Smart changes. These organisation wide changes require an innovation based leadership and management approach.

Key issues for
SmartImpact partners

  • Siloed offices where cross-departmental communication is poor and budgets and activities are not aligned.
  • Many traditional municipalities still have a risk-adverse culture where trying something new is not rewarded.
  • Smart cities must take responsibility for knowledge management. This includes, learning from mistakes, spreading good practice and new information across the entire organisation.
  • Smart data management means integrated and dedicated IT systems with tools for gathering knowledge. Traditionally IT and data are siloed, without a data intelligence team helping to harness their value.
  • A lack of effective both political and collective leadership.
  • City leaders need to work towards an open and progressive learning environment where systems and information are integrated and innovation is supported.

Lessons learnt from
SmartImpact partners

Cities need strong executive leadership with goals that are understood and endorsed by politicians, citizens and commerce. To effect change it is important to have a pragmatic and widely communicated vision for Smart development. Cities need to allocate an innovation budget that is large enough to make real change. This should provide a clear and committed roadmap to Smart city growth, outlining commercial incentives and benefits.

Developing a Smart city is an opportunity to cut across older, fragmented structures, linking different offices and departments for the more efficient delivery of public services. Each city must work with their own unique ecosystem to develop an appropriate change in methodology.

Actions to develop a new kind of city approach

A new model of collective leadership – collective leadership can be defined as a group of people who collaboratively guide processes and projects towards positive and sustainable outcomes. In the context of a Smart city, leaders such as heads of departments, municipal companies, mayors and citizen representatives work collaboratively to deliver a set of shared goals. Including other stakeholders into the leadership system of the city has the potential to transform Smart city progress and makes best use of the local innovation ecosystem.


Action to help sharpen
strategic management

An organisation that develops and manages a Smart city has to provide excellence in strategic management. In this context it is the continuous monitoring, analysis and planning of everything necessary for a municipality to meet the long and short-term goals of running a Smart city. A separate data unit can ensure a number of key factors are delivered and available and potential data sources are mapped across the city.

Creating a learning organisation

By adopting a systems thinking approach a municipality can begin to think beyond the boundaries of departments, disciplines or organisations. This enables public officials to understand the city as an integrated system.

For Smart city progress this shift in analysis is essential because it examines how the constituent parts of the city interact with each other.

Organisational Development for Smart Cities Case Studies