Tuesday, August 13


I love when you see proof in the marketplace that even a really big idea can happen.

I can hear the brainstorm meetings now - in an effort to reduce traffic, congestion, and pollution in NYC, let's make bikes available for NYers to use when ever and where ever they want.  Now that's a big idea, but could it ever really happen?

Yup.  Introducting the Citibike!  A big idea in action ... and it appears that the city even got it funded by Citibank, a huge player in the NY market which now feels even bigger as a result.

Now what makes this so big is that not only do you have to get the bikes, maintain them, and give people a way to pay for them (hello Citibank credit card), you also have to create a place to store them and give people a way to access them.  No small potatoes when real estate and parking is at an ultra premium.  It literally means taking over precious parking spots and curb sides to accommodate it.  Big ideas often require big steps to make them happen, hence we don't see many of them actually happen.

Well the city and Citibank figured it all out.  Now it's not without it's rules of engagement, which are no small potatoes either.  You can't keep the bike all day long - these are meant to get you from point a to point b quickly and cleanly.  There's a definitive purpose and an infrastructure to support it, like any big idea.  There are docking stations all over Manhattan, so you simply pick up the big and leg dock it back in when you reach your destination.  Simple ... big ideas generally also have a core simplicity to them which is truly what makes them so fabulous.

The masterfulness behind this one is it's bigness for everyone involved.  Commuters have a new option to get back and forth to work or to where ever they want.  The city now has a new option for cutting down traffic and pollution.  And Citibank gets hoisted into the spotlight, with their logo now dressed all over the city.  It's impossible not to see it.  Brilliant.

And just when I thought this was NY's symbol of true innovation, I happened to be in Montreal this weekend and noticed that they too have the same system.  Different sponsor, but same system.  While maybe not exclusive to NY, it's still a big idea that is perhaps getting bigger city by city.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
- President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
- Author, The Experience Effect series
- Professor, NYU
- Contributor, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post


  1. A colleague just pointed out that London has led this initiative - way to go! JIM

  2. Hi Jim! In Mexico city we have had this sistem for 3 years, and I might say it has worked amazingly. The interesting part of Citibike is the cleverness and great timing of a brand like Citibank to become the sponsor of a new way to make life better in a big city.

    Cheers from Mexico!


  3. I didn't know that! Very cool Marimer! JIM

  4. And I just saw it in Washington, DC. Didn't realize how pervasive it is. Impressive. JIM