To create a more compelling argument as to why measuring input metrics when attempting to determine overall success makes no sense, I will provide the following analogy:
I propose to the Ottawa Senators that they should offer me $15,000,000 for the remainder of the 2014 season to help them make the playoffs. By the logic being used to validate HERD spending in Canada I, as the highest paid player in the NHL, should now be the best player by virtue of my salary. Unfortunately at the end of the season what truly matters are my output metrics (goal scoring, assists and total points) and wins for the team. If the Senators pin their hopes on my $15,000,000 salary to make the playoffs with no output expectations whatsoever they will be deeply disappointed.
We need to change the way we think about innovation in Canada and focus on outcome based metrics to achieve success. As an old boss of mine used to say, “What gets measured gets done.” We currently measure our spending and are continuously getting better at it to the detriment of innovation in Canada. This isn’t the entire story but it definitely contributes to Canada scoring a “D” in innovation, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
Fostering and facilitating a more entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem in Canada is everyone’s responsibility and that means “facing the brutal facts.” The key issue with “Paradox Lost” and the eight other reports that came before it is that Canada’s weak performance is a shared responsibility. The onus does not lie completely at the feet of business. There is a wealth of extremely talented researchers in Canada and to stimulate innovation we absolutely must focus their energy into achieving more promising output metrics; not to have them striving to simply increase funding every year.
In summary, if we are to succeed in creating a more innovative society academia must:
1) Realize that spending is not a measure of success.
2) Implement and use meaningful metrics to measure the success of HERD spending.
The next post in the series will be myth #4, “Canada business innovation is weak by international standards, and this is the primary cause of Canada’s poor productivity growth.”
Ian Graham & Gareth Graham