What I learned about doing business in Canada from Anthony Lacavera’s new book: An ode to innovation in context

I’m a designer but I get more excited about being part of changing a system that will impact the 99% underserved by the latest innovation in juice pressers than I do about designing a connected blender, or whatever is at the bleeding edge of what has come to embody innovation.

Source: neowin.net

I don’t think innovation is about the new. To borrow from Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who received the Nobel Prize for discovering Vitamin C: Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought.

That’s how I felt about Wind Mobile founder Anthony Lacavera’s How we can win: And what happens to us and our country if we don’t, a book that I expect will prove to be the most influential read of my 20s (although I recently discovered Esther Perel and her writing on human connection is blowing my mind).

Canada is a unique place to do business and we don’t hear much about that, which is actually one of the unique traits of doing business in Canada.

I <3 Toronto

According to Lacavera, the problem with Canadian business is that entrenched organizations are slow to innovate and compete, and innovative start-ups are quick to sell to American companies. This is a problem because Canadian companies are increasingly facing foreign competition on our home turf, and the cost of losing is being passed down directly to the consumer.

But the really interesting stuff is about how we got here: why do we have this problem?

In short:

  • Our risk-averse culture
  • Our vast, sparsely-populated geography
  • Our governmental and tax policies
  • Our stable economy
  • Our relationship with the U.S.

It’s that last point that pervades our culture and economy, and really makes the Canadian context unique amongst other stable, sparsely-populated peers. We are accustomed to being late adopters of American innovations.

In fact, Lacavera so captivated me with this problem statement that I am now dedicating my Master’s research to pinpointing the unique Canadian factors that can form the unique Canadian company that will embody our unique Canadian values. Any ideas?