Canada’s Businesses Need to Unleash Collaboration

Many Canadian businesses are inhibiting Canadians themselves when it comes to being productive and innovative.

People in this nation are among the most active and savvy of social media users in the world right now, and the research suggests the generations who’ve recently joined, or are about to enter, the workforce are keen to collaborate. Yet, most employers in Canada – particularly those in smaller businesses – aren’t providing the right tools and collaborative platforms.

Collaboration and communication are vital to business success since the research also shows that the most significant sources of innovation come from customers, partners and employees. But we’re living in a business environment that generally doesn’t provide the means for dispersed people and communities to share ideas and communicate.

Coupled with that is the fact that Canada as a country ranks among the lowest of OECD nations in terms of things like labour productivity, innovation and the ability to make the most of information technology in a business setting. 

I spoke about all of this during a luncheon speech at the Toronto Board of Trade. Admittedly, it’s something of a crusade I’ve embarked upon for the last three years. I’ve talked to hundreds of people across the country during that time about Canada’s generally poor labour productivity growth, which is well under 1% annually during the period from 2000 to 2009. I’ve made the startling point that Canada would need to boost productivity by four times annually for the next 15 years just to catch up with the current U.S. levels.

I’ve also explained the vital importance of productivity to Canada’s future – that it’s necessary to sustain 1% productivity growth annually for 72 years just to double the current standard of living. Our ability to compete as a country is threatened by poor productivity and that seriously inhibits efficiency and Canada’s ability to be innovative…and prosperous.

I’m absolutely passionate and resolute in telling senior government and business that Canadian leadership must step up. We need to create in Canada a smarter workplace that allows people to be flexible, creative, innovative and much more productive. We need flexible working environments that let employees work where they happen to be, whenever they happen to be there. We need to let Canadians do what they already do exceptionally well – collaborate.

Both the Globe and Mail and covered off the remarks of my speech on Dececember 13, so I won’t repeat the entire script. You can find my PowerPoint presentation below.

Headway is being made. I believe political and business leadership have grasped the message, but we need to say and do much more. Every journey begins with the first step, which in this case is building awareness. So let’s start talking about how business needs to unleash rather than inhibit collaboration. Canada’s future depends on it.

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