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Canada should take advantage of a new power innovation - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May 20, 2016

“low temperature micro-geothermal engines.......There are many definitions of “innovation,” but the one I use is this: the application of an existing technology to a new and very useful purpose. Here we are seeing true innovation take shape. For a very long time, it seems nanotechnology has been an invention waiting for something useful to do. But now we are seeing the emergence of something not only useful, but crucial to solving our power needs.

We need to be innovative, but we also need to recognize and capitalize on innovation when it happens. The advances in nanotechnology, 3-D printing and geology must not remain trapped in university labs. Commercializing the technology is the next step, but this is where Canadians have often fallen short. We’ve innovated something amazing – now let’s capitalize on it.
Todd_Hirsch  innovation  power_generation  Alberta  geothermal  nanotechnology  commercialization  renewable 
may 2016 by jerryking
A rigorous Canadian innovation policy needs to be able to evolve and pivot - The Globe and Mail
BILAL KHAN
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Apr. 15, 2016

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But a big part of the problem is our knee-jerk reaction to expect governments to provide the solutions. Need corporate R&D? Ask Ottawa for more tax credits. Lacking venture capital? Insist tax dollars are put into a fund. Want more high tech? Demand provincial governments to spend more on university research.

Good public policies can certainly nudge us in the right direction, but it’s lazy to sit back and wait for government to solve the problem. The truth is that tax credits and research subsidies do not drive innovation. Curiosity drives innovation.

Maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Instead of “what policy can drive innovation?”, we need to ask “how can we become a society of inquisitive individuals?” That’s a more difficult question. It is too simplistic to call for more creativity in the classrooms, but surely strong literacy skills at an early age form the bedrock of curiosity and innovative thinking in adulthood. Children who are encouraged to read, to question, to wonder and to imagine will carry those abilities with them into adulthood.

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innovation  innovation_policies  public_policy  agility  risk-taking  Todd_Hirsch  curiosity  organizational_culture  inquisitiveness  questions  bottom-up  hard_questions  asking_the_right_questions  tax_codes 
april 2016 by jerryking
We pay a high economic price for a society of exclusion - The Globe and Mail
Apr. 08, 2016 |The Globe and Mail | TODD HIRSCH.

If citizens are excluded from meaningful involvement in their economic systems, policy solutions (e.g. A tax cut here, an infrastructure program there) none of it matters.....Donald Trump has tapped into a vein of discontent that isn’t going away, whether he wins the White House or not. Those disenfranchised from mainstream politics are connecting with Mr. Trump’s childish messages.....The common thread in protest movements like Occupy Wall Street and Idle No More is that people who are excluded from the mainstream economic and political systems that run a country are disconnected and their disconnection erodes the social and political stability-- the basic building blocks on which successful economies are built. ... If people lose faith in governments, if they become so hopeless about finding a way to achieve and succeed in the system, the system itself will start to collapse.

And following that will be an outflow of capital investment, entrepreneurial energy and intellectual might. Money, businesses and educated people – if they start pouring out, the economy doesn’t stand a chance.
aboriginals  capital_flows  civil_disobedience  covenants  disenfranchisement  disadvantages  Donald_Trump  economists  exclusion  policy  social_fabric  Idle_No_More  marginalization  social_cohesion  social_collaboration  patriotism  instability  Occupy_Wall_Street  talent_flows  hopelessness  protest_movements  social_integration  Todd_Hirsch 
april 2016 by jerryking
Universities are vital investments for all orders of government - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH
Universities are vital investments for all orders of government
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Apr. 10 2015
Todd_Hirsch  Colleges_&_Universities  students 
april 2015 by jerryking
Corporate sponsors of the arts missing creative opportunities - The Globe and Mail
Jan. 16 2015 | The Globe and Mail | TODD HIRSCH.
...the necessary bridge between creativity and innovation is collaboration – the act of allowing someone else’s experience to change the way you see the world....
It’s time to entirely rethink corporate sponsorship of the arts. Forget the silly logo on the back of the program or the complimentary tickets to the play. What artists can offer is much more valuable: a chance to peer into the mind of a choreographer, a singer, a set designer, a writer. How do they solve complex problems? And what insights can this bring to corporate leaders who are trying to solve problems of their own?

In the end it comes down to something neurologists know very well. If you want to become a creative person, you have to force your brain to see new patterns, unfamiliar terrain and uncomfortable situations. Sitting in a boardroom full of people with the same university degree and the same clothes (think dull blue suits and boring shoes) will do nothing to foster creative, innovative visionaries.

Why don’t artists offer those corporate suits something really valuable? The pitch should be: “Give us $100,000 and we’ll show you how we solve problems and design solutions. You’ll think we’re crazy – and quite possibly we are – but if you allow yourselves the chance, you’ll start to change the way your brain operates. Creativity can’t be taught, but it can be developed.”

Companies can transform the way their leaders think.
Todd_Hirsch  arts  philanthropy  branding  creativity  artists  critical_thinking  skepticism  problem_solving  sponsorships  art  creative_renewal  ideality  collaboration  rethinking  missed_opportunities  heterogeneity  crazy_ideas  radical_ideas  creative_types  neurologists  complex_problems 
january 2015 by jerryking
Taxi trouble: Disruptive technology claims another victim - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH
Taxi trouble: Disruptive technology claims another victim Add to ...
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 21 2014
Uber  taxis  Todd_Hirsch  disruption 
november 2014 by jerryking
Innovation vacuum imperils Alberta’s economic juggernaut - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH
Innovation vacuum imperils Alberta’s economic juggernaut Add to ...
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, May. 22 2014

The province ranked second to the bottom in research and development spending, employment in high-tech and knowledge-intensive services, and investment in machinery and equipment. It ranked dead last in labour productivity growth in construction. In fact, most of Alberta’s serious shortfalls point to two broad areas of concern: innovation and productivity.

Innovation is the “it” word these days in economic circles, but to be honest, it’s a bit slippery to define. The Alberta Economic Development Authority (AEDA) uses the Conference Board of Canada’s definition of the former: “The extraction of economic and social value from knowledge.” And productivity is simply the ability to produce more with fewer resources. Economists agree that without these, you’re doomed.

Some of Alberta’s shortcomings in innovation have explanations. Lower-than-average R&D spending reflects the uniqueness of oil and gas extraction. The petroleum industry doesn’t operate like other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, information and communications technology, or consumer-driven manufacturing where research is done in a laboratory and spending is easy to track. Oil and gas “research” is much more likely to take place at the drill site or in the actual physical exploration. It’s done through trial and error – tweaks to methods and practices are constantly improving efficiency and reducing costs. It never gets counted as “spending on R&D” but it doesn’t mean research isn’t happening.

Alberta’s last place ranking in labour productivity growth in construction corroborates a Statistics Canada report on business innovation, released in February. Apparently, only 12.5 per cent of Alberta construction companies are actively investing in new technologies, compared to about 33 per cent in Ontario and 30 per cent nationally.
Alberta  innovation  innovation_policies  oil_industry  Todd_Hirsch  shortcomings  R&D  laggards  trial_&_error  productivity  innovation_vacuum  economists 
september 2014 by jerryking
Forget reforming universities. Let’s reform the students
Aug. 29 2014 |The Globe and Mail |TODD HIRSCH.

10: Join a club.

9: Have a writing sample.

8. Find a co-op position.

7: Read novels [JCK: *fiction]

6. Plan to spend time abroad.

5: Be curious.

4: Focus on school, then work.

3: Pick your major by what you’re interested in, not what you think will get you a high-paying job.
2. Take a broad range of courses.
1. Learn how to learn.
bottom-up  Colleges_&_Universities  students  education  fiction  reform  Todd_Hirsch  learning_agility  habits  curiosity  travel 
august 2014 by jerryking
A Spanish lesson in economics - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jun. 20 2014

The lesson here is that public infrastructure projects are necessary to promote arts and culture, but they need to be considered carefully in terms of size, scope and cost. They should be beautiful and inspiring, but they cannot become the ego-driven projects of mayors or architects. Unlike government spending on education or health, which can be scaled up, down or redesigned over time, a huge public infrastructure project has one chance to get it right.

I’m certainly no expert on the Spanish economy, and the country and its people have so many wonderful attributes that it’s impossible to not love the place. And certainly Canada has its share of service failures, publicly funded white elephants and other blunders. The point is that economics is everywhere – even when you’re at a Spanish café gulping an ice-cold Agua de Valencia (don’t ask – just go to Valencia and order one.)
circumspection  cultural_institutions  economics  infrastructure  olive_oils  publicly_funded  Spain  Todd_Hirsch  tourism  travel  Valencia  white_elephants 
june 2014 by jerryking
As Iceland shows, the arts can be a valuable business asset for Canada - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH
As Iceland shows, the arts can be a valuable business asset for Canada Add to ...
Subscribers Only

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Mar. 27 2014
Todd_Hirsch  Iceland  art  artists  culture  arts  cultural_institutions  creativity  prosperity  creative_class  funding  fine_arts 
march 2014 by jerryking
When it comes to innovation, Canada needs more inquisitive minds
Sept. 11 2013 | The Globe and Mail | by TODD HIRSCH.

There are solutions to Canada’s innovation deficit. The Conference Board of Canada, which prepared the Canadian analysis for the WEF report, makes several smart suggestions. Encouraging more spending on R&D, making better use of advanced technology, and increasing the research linkages between universities and industry all make sense.

But a big part of the problem is our knee-jerk reaction to expect governments to provide the solutions. Need corporate R&D? Ask Ottawa for more tax credits. Lacking venture capital? Insist tax dollars are put into a fund. Want more high tech? Demand provincial governments to spend more on university research.

Good public policies can certainly nudge us in the right direction, but it’s lazy to sit back and wait for government to solve the problem. The truth is that tax credits and research subsidies do not drive innovation. Curiosity drives innovation.

Maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Instead of “what policy can drive innovation?”, we need to ask “how can we become a society of inquisitive individuals?” That’s a more difficult question. It is too simplistic to call for more creativity in the classrooms, but surely strong literacy skills at an early age form the bedrock of curiosity and innovative thinking in adulthood. Children who are encouraged to read, to question, to wonder and to imagine will carry those abilities with them into adulthood.
bottom-up  Todd_Hirsch  economists  innovation  competitiveness_of_nations  Canada  Canadian  WEF  rankings  curiosity  counterintuitive  public_policy  inquisitiveness  literacy  reframing  problem_framing  children  parenting  fascination  asking_the_right_questions  questions 
september 2013 by jerryking
Why empathy is an economic necessity - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Aug. 14 2013

The world is full of wonderfully engineered, but poorly designed products – with no eye for how the average person might use it. This highlights a certain quality that isn’t taught in business schools but can make a huge difference for companies developing new products: empathy.

Empathy is the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes. It’s far more than just being a nice person. If properly developed, empathy can give you and your company a distinct competitive edge. Negotiating a contract, dealing with workplace conflicts, coming up with a marketing campaign, or dreaming up the next must-have consumer gadget all require the ability to see the world through eyes that aren’t your own.

Sadly, managers and human resource departments too often neglect the interpersonal skills that are so essential to achieving results. Along with other aptitudes such as story-telling and creativity, empathy is underappreciated by many in the corporate board room. The fact that we even call them “soft” skills implies that they’re less important....The ability to see the world through the eyes of others is an economic imperative. If empathy were given the attention it deserves, companies would find new ways to please their customers. Innovators would dream up systems that save time and money. Conflicts would be resolved more easily. And maybe – just maybe – engineers would design products that are simple to use.
empathy  product_development  design  skills  storytelling  Todd_Hirsch  UX  usability  competitive_advantage  under_appreciated  people_skills  new_products  interpersonal_interactions  soft_skills  delighting_customers  product_design  economic_imperatives  must-have_experience 
august 2013 by jerryking
With its entrepreneurial spirit, Alberta is no one-trick hydrocarbon pony - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 19 2013 | The Globe and Mail | by TODD HIRSCH.

The Albertan economy is about: Capitalizing on what works today, and quickly shifting gears if it doesn’t work tomorrow. This young man farmed with his dad in the 1990s at a time when farming made little sense or money. But he realized the farm’s backhoe was making him big bucks. So farming became secondary to construction machinery, and a decade and a half later he owns a thriving construction company in central Alberta. And now (cue the Circle of Life theme song) he’s shifting back into farming to capitalize on today’s good crop prices.
Alberta  wealth_creation  entrepreneurship  TED  oil_industry  Todd_Hirsch  construction 
june 2013 by jerryking
Playing it safe puts the economy at risk - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH

Special to The Globe and Mail

Last updated Thursday, Apr. 11 2013

Risk management is now a quasi-science, with positive and negative consequences. The positive is that companies are now better equipped to gauge the level of risk associated with any particular investment. But the negative is that, too often, risk management hampers innovation and creativity.

What should be a tool to make better decisions has sometimes led companies to make no decisions at all. Risk management should liberate companies. Instead, it has enslaved some.
risks  risk-management  innovation  economy  creativity  Todd_Hirsch  risk-aversion  risk-avoidance  playing_it_safe 
april 2013 by jerryking
The economic imperative for investing in arts and culture
Mar. 27 2013 | The Globe and Mail | TODD HIRSCH.

A better reason why the economy needs a strong cultural scene is that it helps to attract and retain labour. This is especially important for cities trying to draw smart professionals from around the world. The best and brightest workers are global citizens, and if they (or their families) are not pleased with the cultural amenities, they won’t come. Calgary, where I live, is a perfect example: world-class fly fishing and a great rodeo will attract some people, but without fantastic arts and sports amenities, the pool of willing migrants would be shallow....The third reason, however, is the most important. To become the creative, innovative and imaginative citizens that our companies and governments want us to be, Canadians need to willingly expose themselves to new ideas. A vibrant arts and culture community is the easiest way to make this possible.

American neuroscientist Gregory Berns, in the introduction to his 2008 book Iconoclast, wrote: “To see things differently than other people, the most effective solution is to bombard the brain with things it has never encountered before.” Living and travelling abroad is a great way to do this, but for most of us that isn’t a practical reality. Arts and culture on our home turf offer us the chance to “bombard” our brain with new stimulus without leaving town.

The important part, as Dr. Berns puts it, is to concentrate on things your brain has never encountered before. If you’re an opera fan, going to see opera season after season will be enjoyable, but you won’t reap the creative benefits that come from exposure to other things. Maybe you need to skip the next performance of Don Giovanni and take in some indie rock. Or if you’re a hockey nut, turn off the game one night and take in an exhibit of contemporary visual art. You’re not required to enjoy an unfamiliar art or sport (although if you go with an open mind, you’ll be surprised). The point is to purposely take it in, absorb what’s going on, and let your mind be bombarded. It gets the brain’s neurons firing in different ways...We have to stop thinking about arts and culture as simply nice-to-haves. They are just as important as well-maintained roads and bridges. By giving us the chance to stimulate our minds with new ideas and experiences, they give us the opportunity to become more creative. Arts and culture are infrastructure for the mind.
cultural_institutions  art  artists  Calgary  creativity  prosperity  creative_class  funding  fine_arts  value_propositions  mental_dexterity  creative_renewal  Todd_Hirsch  imagination  idea_generation  ideas  iconoclasts  contemporary_art  open_mind  economic_imperatives  the_best_and_brightest 
march 2013 by jerryking
Oh, those lazy young people
Aug. 24 2012 | The Globe and Mail | Todd Hirsch.

The first thing a young person should do is get an education. Not coincidentally, postsecondary education has been a huge issue burning a hole in Quebec politics this summer. But rising tuition fees or not, there is no single factor more effective in boosting creativity and productivity than an educated work force.

Travelling or living abroad is also important. The human mind needs to see different patterns and systems in order to tap its full creative potential, and seeing how people and economies work in other parts of the world is enormously helpful for this.

Finally, working in the community offers tremendous benefits. By getting involved in an arts group, a not-for-profit charity, a neighbourhood sports league – it almost doesn’t matter what as long as the interests of others are at the forefront – self-awareness and empathy are enhanced. And from this flows innovation and creativity.

Economic productivity isn’t about working longer hours, nor is it about finding a warm body to fill a dead-end job. It’s about tapping human potential. It’s about spawning new industries – ones that perhaps need some risk-taker champions along the way. And it’s about inspiring a new generation of young Canadians to say “this is our economy.”
productivity  youth  creative_renewal  travel  creativity  Millennials  Todd_Hirsch  self-awareness  empathy  innovation  education  new_businesses  perspectives  volunteering  arts  nonprofit  human_potential  young_people 
august 2012 by jerryking
How pizza delivers innovation - The Globe and Mail
Jan. 03, 2012 |Globe and Mail | by Todd Hirsch

Argues that as unemployment benefits expire, there aren’t too many jobs available, so very low-skill, unappealing jobs – pizza delivery, gas station attendant, etc. – will be reconsidered. Skilled Americans accustomed to much higher wages will find themselves accepting these low-paying jobs. On the surface, that’s bad news. What a waste of education and skill!

But within the husk of this sad state of underemployment lie the seeds of a whole new wave of innovation and creativity. Smart workers who find themselves in these menial jobs will say, “I could do better” or “I can do this differently” or “I have an idea that will revolutionize pizza delivery.” New businesses will be created, many of them improving on the old business models that dominated the pre-Internet age.

This is how economic innovation works. Clever people come up with ideas, which turn into business ventures, which then turn into the economic drivers of tomorrow.
innovation  unemployment  creativity  reinvention  low_skilled  business_models  smart_people  menial  new_businesses  Todd_Hirsch  underemployment  dissatisfaction  ideas  bad_news 
january 2012 by jerryking

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