A Great Transformation

iStock_000004882942Small.jpgAs my own work enters a new and exciting phase, I find myself considering three intersecting and co-evolving forces: the Obama Moment, the New Great Transformation and the Social Web. I see signals in these forces of a new resilience just when we most need it.

The convergence of these forces in the context of tremendous global economic, environmental and political uncertainty signals an opportunity for renewal by change-makers, social innovators and social entrepreneurs for the benefit of us all. The complexity of the world requires better solutions, and we know from the open innovation literature that the ideas we need today do not live within a single organization.

Is this a truly transformative moment at a critical point in human history? Is a new social, economic, environmental and cultural resilience possible, or will status quo forces reassert themselves?

Full essay after the jump…

Continue reading “A Great Transformation”

SummerCamp: A Toronto Creative Mashup Event

summercamp.gifA series of happy coincidences conspired to give Toronto a great new event that’s taking off like a rocket! SummerCamp falls hot on the heals of CaseCampToronto7, CopyCamp2008, CIX and StartupCampToronto2, a major mid-week after-party that CommunityNorth calls “one camp to rule them all”.

This unusual convergence of open/unconference events all happening the evening of the 29th and CaseCamp steward Eli Singer’s booking of the amazing megaclub CiRCA presented an opportunity too good to pass up. Many thanks to CaseCamp sponsors comScore, Thornley Fallis, InterCom Search, Social Media Group, Pigsback.com, Segal Communications, FreshBooks and nextMedia for making the space available. Special thanks to Rob Hyndman|Hyndman Law for helping us pickup some extra expenses to make SummerCamp a reality.

Creative convergence happens on the dancefloor!

SummerCamp Dance Party

CaseCamp along with its sponsors transform CiRCA into ground zero for Toronto’s creative communities: art, design, communications, technology, media, social change and entrepreneurship. DJs, interactive art, and the closest friends you haven’t met celebrating their passion for participatory culture, creative practice and society.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:00 PM – Close
126 John Street
Toronto, Ontario M4V 2E3
RSVP on the Facebook event.

Enjoy a late night party and a great lineup:

  • Andrew McConachie (DJ Set)
  • Jimmy Blak (DJ Set)
  • Abdul Smooth (DJ + Visuals)
  • Gabe Sawhney (Interactive Visual Installation)
  • Newmindspace (Cool Stuff TBA)

Trust me, you won’t want to miss this. Book off the next morning and celebrate with Toronto’s emerging creative leaders who are remaking the city. A glance at the Facebook guest list shows one of the most exciting gatherings of creative change-makers and rabble-rowsers in town. Just some of the groups and communities represented:

CaseCamp, StartupCamp, CopyCamp, DemoCamp, PodCamp, FacebookCamp, SciBarCamp, Third Tuesday, Emerging Arts Professionals, ArtsScene, Mercer Union, The Movement, FlashInTO, CFC Medialab, Metronauts/TransitCamp, Centre for Social Innovation, The Overlap, The Beal Institute, VizThink, OpenCities/OpenEverything, Newmindspace, Trampoline Hall, Mobile Jam Fest, Spacing, BlogTO, Talk20 Toronto, WirelessToronto, Mesh, nextMedia, CIX, and many many more. (sorry, my linking finger got tired: Ed.)

Ontario government is panning for NextGen Jobs

Digital Media is the hot sector du jour in Ontario, and for good reason. It is one of those rising sectors that are the great hope to support economic growth in an age of de-industrialization. In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a bit of a government-led gold rush going on.

At ICE08, we learned that Ontario’s Ministry of Research & Innovation is investing $9 million in OCAD’s’ Digital Futures Initiative to expand training and research programs in digital media. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD, is a remarkable force of nature and under her leadership, OCAD is aggressively pursuing a reinvigorated research agenda and building partnerships with technology and content industry partners large and small.

We also learned that $10 million is being invested in a new Stratford campus for the University of Waterloo, bringing UW’s acknowledged strength in technology together with Stratford’s vibrant arts and culture community, focusing on digital media.


Both announcements came out of are in addition to the new Next Generation of Jobs Fund, a $1.15 billion initiative modelled after Ontario’s Auto Investment Strategy, which put $500 million into strategic projects and leveraged private investment of $7 billion. The Next Generation of Jobs Fund focuses on three broad sectors: green/clean tech, bio/pharma/health and digital media/ICT. There are three program streams:

What is a “Strategic Opportunity?”

An opportunity where:

  • A large scale global market opportunity exists, coupled with a unique strategy to deal with the competition, or a niche global market opportunity where Ontario has significant capacity and little competition and;
  • Ontario has a demonstrated competitive advantage such as strong private sector strengths including global market leadership, and globally competitive research strength.

Now, here’s an innovation challenge for the Strategic Opportunities Program itself:

How do you identify and evaluate the best strategic opportunities?

The Ministry is holding a series of workshops and doing a SWOT analysis within each of the three focus areas. (sigh)

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good SWOT analysis as much as the next strategy consultant. But have you seen a SWOT analysis yet that provides the needed insight or foresight implied by the goal of developing “next generation jobs”, particularly in an environment of accelerating tech and cultural change?

In the auto industry, panning for job gold is pretty straightforward – you call up the Big 3, the major import manufacturers, the parts and auto technology makers and you’ve got a pretty manageable group to work with. Eventually BIGCO installs some equipment or builds a plant somewhere. Now look at a map of the 11,000 enterprises in the entertainment and creative industries in the Toronto CMA, including digital media and ICT, and you’ll see the problem: 77% of this $9 billion industry are sole practitioners or micro-enterprises. That’s a mighty big river to pan in!

In order for this strategy to be successful, strategic opportunities have to be found, validated by expertise and evaluated against investment criteria in order to be funded. Is there a community engagement strategy that could support this process? What role does strategic foresight, design thinking and collaborative innovation play in its execution? I’m interested in finding out. Leave a comment if you have some thoughts.