Yesterday, I posted Canada’s Innovation Gap (part 3) where I discussed some ideas for solving the lack of innovation that exists in Canada.
This weekend, the Liberal Party of Canada is hosting a conference in Montreal focusing on Canada’s future. The conference is called Canada at 150: Rising to the Challenge. It’s a non-partisan conference bringing people from different industries, political views and areas of Canada together to discuss 5 key challenges related to the nation. Those challenges are:
- Jobs Today and Tomorrow: the Productive Society of 2017
- Real life issues for Canadian families: How do we care?
- Energy, Environment, economy: Growth and Responsibility in 2017
- The Creative and Competitive economy
- A strong presence in the world of 2017: Commerce, values, and relationships
What’s great about this is the relatively open process they’ve used to get the participation from all parts of the country. Clearly with an agenda like this, the topic of innovation was discussed.
The following panel discussion, along with Q&A is well worth watching. Some really frank and honest comments are made.
(click on the image or click here to go to the video. NOTE: The first minute or so is in French and then it moves into an English discussion. )
A great comment from the early part of the discussion came from panelist Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He gives his definition of innovation and invention.
Innovation does not equal invention. Invention is producer driven. Someone says, I want to have some kind of gadget. And they dream it up in their lab or basement or garage. And it may not be of interest to anyone else. That’s invention.
Innovation is driven from the user or the consumer side…it’s about improving the experience of the end user or consumer.
Note the point that innovation is driven from the user or consumer perspective. It doesn’t mean they drive the innovation, but that their needs must be central to the innovation process.
Later on, when answering a question about the role of taxpayers and the government in helping spur innovation, Martin says quite bluntly:
I made the distinction earlier about invention and innovation. The problem for Canada and it’s been this way for a long time is we don’t have an innovation policy in Canada. Unless you call benign neglect a policy. We have an invention policy and in fact all of our money goes for invention and that’s the gross error.
I love this statement as it’s so straight forward and unapologetic. We need more people like Martin to speak out this way.
I strongly recommend listening to the full discussion. They discuss value of design in new product development, the reasons for lack of commercial success for Canadian “invention”, the sad state of the VC industry in Canada and much more. It’s very honest and in many places quite astute, and I feel, long overdue.