Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

The Los Angeles Kings are the presumptive Stanley Cup winner (and may actually be the winner by the time you read this). I wrote about lessons we can all take from their success:

The Kings’ success in acquiring talent put them in a position to add the right pieces to flesh out a Stanley Cup contender. While in other industries you won’t have the benefit of trading talent (imagine if you could draft the best grads out of school!), but you can take to heart the lesson of timing – going above scope, or paying extra, to attract the right talent for the right initiative at the right time.

Picture this: A national volunteer program - kind of a Canadian Peace Corps - that benefits young Canadians, communities and, arguably, the country as a whole. You could call it the Governor General’s Youth Corps, say, or even the Royal Canadian Volunteer Corps. It’s hard to imagine a federal politician who wouldn’t eat up the idea.

Just don’t call it Katimavik. The $15-million-a-year youth volunteer program, which was axed in last week’s federal budget, was the right program, at the right time, with the wrong political lineage, at least for the Conservative government.


Love this piece:

We can and should argue over how we use the vehicle of collective worker power, but we should not think we can get by without it entirely. Unions exist in every democracy and the first thing every dictator does is crush them. That is not a coincidence. Our economic future lies in the empathy and interconnection exemplified in the story of Exodus. Affinity and solidarity are at the root of true ‘builder’ society. Labor groups with this as their driving tenet will be able to adapt to changing conditions as well as Moses did.

I like that phrase - an economy that is organic and sustainable:

What most economists haven’t yet grasped is that that the economy is not in a recovery. It is in a great economic Phase Change.

We have, as Joseph Stiglitz has written, misunderstood our situation. We are not as well off as we thought we were. The economic pain that we feel is the pain of a great economic Phase Change.

Just as the phase change in the Great Depression was a transition from agriculture to manufacturing, so the economic pain we are feeling is a transition out of the industrial economy.

Interesting perspective:

Are the new Plans 2.0, projected to end chronic and veterans homelessness in the next handful of years, going to succeed? It depends on what our definition of “success” is.

Creating a plan to end homelessness is a roadmap on how to literally end this sad human American tragedy by showing this country that we have the capacity to actually accomplish it. Whether our leaders, both locally and nationally, have the political courage to fund and implement such a plan is another issue.

Have these plans successfully created a path toward ending homelessness in this country? A resounding yes.

Perhaps this decade-long initiative to end homelessness has taught us a lesson. Perhaps we should not be counting years. Ten years. Five years.

Instead, maybe we should be counting homes. Like the latest, most innovative national initiative, the 100,000 Homes Campaign, that is counting the number of chronic homeless neighbors who are being permanently housed.

So if not from brainstorming, where do good ideas come from?

At Continuum, we use deliberative discourse—or what we fondly call “Argue. Discuss. Argue. Discuss.” Deliberative discourse was originally articulated in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. It refers to participative and collaborative (but not critique-free) communication. Multiple positions and views are expressed with a shared understanding that everyone is focused on a common goal. There is no hierarchy. It’s not debate because there are no opposing sides trying to “win.” Rather, it’s about working together to solve a problem and create new ideas. 

I sense a bit of a pejorative term, but otherwise the author makes a good point:

The real risk of all this is the same thing that happened in the banking industry – disproportionately high incomes driven by distortions that siphon talent away from productive industries to unproductive ones. There is real demand for top engineers and inventors to commercialize new ways to harness ocean water. Instead, that talent can be found gambling onfictitious investments or perfecting the trajectory of a freshly killed digital pig. Multiply that situation by thousands and you have:

    1. A country completely disconnected from real world problems faced by the rest of the world (like, no water)
    2. Entrepreneurs missing out on a chance to make money to solve those problems
    3. The US falling farther behind and deeper in debt as its biggest talent counts clicks from within a narrowing, darkening, digital consumer bunghole

By the way, I am not saying there is no room in the world for entertainment or leisure-oriented innovation, but I am saying if we want to continue getting those Lenovo’s from China, they’re not going to accept our Tweets or Oinks as payment.

Social media have only made that problem more acute. While blogging, Twitter and Facebook have brought new opportunities for conversation, knowledge gathering and relationship building, those opportunities may feel more daunting than dazzling to overloaded executives.

The solution is to stop looking at social media as another platform you have to learn—yet another responsibility—and start seeing it for what it can be instead: a personal toolbox for improving your practice of leadership.

My latest:

As noted, the opposition should seek to introduce legislation (which can hopefully pass) that will earn favour with its constituencies (current and potential). Stressing a more collegial environment overall, for example, highlighting instances where it works with government, and enhances, rather than simply opposes legislation, is key. Most importantly, however, would be to change the terms of engagement, bringing a more collegial, collaborative approach, and toning down the rhetoric in Question Period. This will appeal to voters who are tired of the constant bickering and partisanship.

My latest:

While a segment of people who follow the tournament are fans of college basketball itself (or of specific teams), for many, the tournament itself is the draw. As a product, it is well defined, and its facets well understood by the audience. Casual fans are surely familiar with the alliterative names for different rounds – Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four. The opportunity for people to latch on to teams (especially lower-seeded underdogs) creates greater viewer engagement, especially when many of the key players turn over on a year-to-year basis.