So ... on to my athlete analogy.
This is particularly timely considering Canada’s recent Olympic results, while sporting an improved performance, in my opinion, the results still fall far short of our potential. The bench mark for us to beat as a nation should be Australia (46 medals 14 Gold) and Canada (18medals 3 Gold). Canada has roughly twice the population of Australia, similar geography and standard of living. We can and should be able to outperform Australia at the Olympics but continually post inferior results and then pat ourselves on the back because we are getting better. Canada’s performance in the innovation arena is almost identical in terms of rating and ranking for athletes at the Olympics versus Canadian innovation in OECD.
In Canada we often measure our innovation success by how much we spend for example there is one local project where the fundamental driving factor seems to be if we spend $100M on a facility and $25M per year on operational budget then that equates to a huge success because we are spending lots of money. This is equivalent to measuring an athlete’s success by how much they eat. So then ... If we had a lot of hearty eaters (spending) we would consider ourselves very successful. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Unchecked spending equates to Innovation obesity, much like how over feed athletes may not produce, spending on large bureaucratic government programs doesn’t necessarily equate to innovation success, quite the contrary. Canada is one of the leading per capita spenders on Innovation (according to Conference Board of Canada) and one of the worst producers. Large unchecked spending on government run entrepreneurship programs would result in Innovation dollars being vacuumed up by bureaucracies looking to increase headcount and budget (their measures of success).
The key to innovation success is to strengthen existing ecosystems and facilitate a results orientation rather than a pro-spend bias on bureaucracies.
- Ian Graham