It seems everywhere we turn over the past few years innovation is being celebrated as a solution to the world's ills.
Now, don't get me wrong, for well over three decades I have lived the challenge of transforming technologies into solutions, moving great ideas into the marketplace, and much else that falls into this basket. Further, I have been as frustrated as anyone about policy, regulation and culture that is built around preserving the status quo and reacting out of irrational risk aversion.
The problem with the way we talk about innovation is that it is treated as though it was a good in itself.
The question I ask is"Innovation in order to achieve what end?"
What is the outcome we are after?
Innovation is a by-product of dedicated focus to achieve something.
To deliver a result better, faster, cheaper, with fewer unwanted side-effects than the way we have done things in the past. A culture obsessively focused on improvement, efficiency, and improving quality of life for all will innovate. But a culture obsessively focused on innovation may achieve none of these things.
We may have more cell phone apps, more ways of delivering pornography, more ways of accessing private information illegally, more ways of invading our neighbour's privacy.
For Canada to truly thrive in a world of accelerating change we do not need to constantly talk about innovation.
We need to focus on values and desired outcomes.
What are we trying to accomplish that makes it worth disrupting the status quo?
Why should we change?
To achieve what outcome?
Oh, and by the way, if we do that then innovation will happen.