Report on Maclean’s Thought Leadership and Innovation Event

I attended the Maclean’s thought leadership and innovation event at the Design Exchange today. The keynote speech provided by Peter Aceto, employee #8 and current CEO of Tangerine Bank Canada, was quite engaging. During his talk, Mr. Aceto shared his insights into what it takes to build an innovative culture within an organization. To frame the discussion, he posed the question “what is the Canadian equivalent of the American dream?” wondering why Canadians are very low on the innovation scale (and slipping), even though Canada is regularly high on the list of the best countries in which to live; Aceto hinted that there are many things we as Canadians should be able to do much better than we do now. This question provided the context for exploring potential solutions to how leaders can help Canada nurture more innovative organizations.

Maclean's Thought Leadership Event at the Design Exchange

Mr. Aceto related a story from his organization about the aspirations and risks behind the design, build, and integration of Canada’s first “cheque deposit by smartphone photo” feature, including how it was conceived, designed, and built before banking laws strictly even allowed such a thing.

His main postulates from the talk were:

  • True innovators have a continuous sense of urgency and dissatisfaction with the way things are; In support of this, Aceto quoted Andy Grove, retired Intel CEO and pioneer in the semiconductor industry, saying that “success breeds complacency, and complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
  • To achieve big things, one must commit to continuous experimentation and failure before success is achieved;
  • As leaders, we should focus on helping to expand and celebrate the things our organizations do well, rather than remediating the things we do badly
  • An innovative culture should be nurtured and encouraged by leaders, for example by creating a context for experimentation; he quoted Alan Kay in support of this notion: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
  • One must begin with a vision of the future – one that is big, bold, creative, and unique, despite the fact that the course will change many times during its implementation

Mr. Aceto’s thoughts were well-appreciated, and a good reminder of the kind of environment we will always try to promote at Jonah Group. Thanks also to Maclean's and The Design Exchange for putting on the event. Thanks also to Josette Blackwood @NetworkOrange for the complementary ticket.

  1. jeremy, thank you for the kind words. i think you captured my thoughts extremely well. it was a great morning for me.

    Peter Aceto
    May 26th, 2014
  2. Thanks Peter – I really enjoyed the talk. Wanted to chat with you afterward, but the line was too long, and I had to head to another meeting.

    As a business owner interested in continuous improvement, I identified a lot with your comments on dissatisfaction with the status quo. Nice to know others out there feel the same way!

    Next time, I’ll bring my mom along as well so they can swap notes ;)

    Jeremy Chan
    May 26th, 2014

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