I get to speak with a lot of amazing social entrepreneurs - people with amazing artistic or design talents they hope to build businesses out of or hardcore problem solvers looking for some way to fund the exploration and trial of their solutions.
I also speak with a lot of policy generators, managers, system leads, etc. looking for ways to paint themselves out of corners, best harness new opportunities or make what they are doing now work better.
From time to time, I even get to sit in on conversations/conferences where big leaders are trying to solve world problems.
You know why Canada lags so far behind when it comes to both productivity and innovation? It's because, complacent, comfortable people that we are, we suck at both.
There is nothing more painful than watching the "so what?" model of concept criticism discourage innovation and shoot down ideas that, with a bit of guidance, could have great potential. To me, this is the equivalent of putting every kid in the same class with no accommodations and failing all of those who don't make the grade; it's selection of the fittest, defining "fit" with a very narrow criteria.
We can keep on expecting innovators to be communication experts and marketing gurus and financial whizzes, dismissing or ignoring those who aren't the complete package and whose ideas, while brimming with promise, need a bit of nudging. But that's what we're doing now.
If we want to start getting ahead of the curve, we need to change our perspective. To do that, though, we need to accept that our current one is outmoded. Change and introspection can be scary, but such is the risk of leadership.
It's time for Canada to lead again.