GOT YOUR ATTENTION, eh…
There’s no question the winter Olympics put Calgary on the map. Now that the plebiscite is done, let’s be certain about what citizens didn’t reject (please keep reading).
FACT: The 1988 games were a significant business attractor. People from all over the world came to the city and the Bow Valley. Marvelling at all the other attractions — our vibrant culture, amazing landscape, the can-do attitude — many visitors envisioned a future for themselves here. As a younger person at the time, I can tell you Calgary, the province, The West was an endless horizon of potential — especially for the young and talented.
WE NEED TO UP OUR GAME
Now’s the time to do something that sends a clear signal that we’re putting the conventional behind us and pivoting toward the future.
Once again, Alberta needs to create the conditions to attract new talent and retain the very best & brightest to rebuild the (former) Petroleum Paradise.
LESSON #1: Blackberry learned brainiac engineers + buckets of money isn’t enough. You need art & design too. In fact, if you don’t have the design thing figured out you can lose your entire enterprise. Apple’s Steve Jobs understood with the iPhone what the engineering culture at Blackberry missed completely. The rest is business history.
NORTH, a Canadian tech start-up is turning heads in Silicon Valley — literally. Pivoting out of the Kitchener-Waterloo ecosystem, the start-up learned from Blackberry’s failure and Google’s mistakes. Yes, Google!
You might recall Google’s creepy Glass, which made the user look like a Borg. It was so weird, the augmented reality (AR) device and video recorder earned it’s early adaptors a nickname — glassholes.
AR is a thing. And it’s starting to get big (think of Pokemon Go!). NORTH’s inventors designed smart glasses — smart eyewear, like your smart watch — but they were ‘smart’ enough to recognize they needed to design glasses that people would actually want to wear. Fashionable eyewear. So, smart people that they are, NORTH’s design — like the iPhone — is elegant as glasses first, and second as a tech product says Wired Magazine.
LESSON #2: Cultivate a wow! atmosphere that rewards entrepreneurial, market-driven, merit-based solutions. The Santa Fe Institute comes to mind, a private initiative that punches way above its weight. In Canada, Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute is an independent, influential physics research community (unaffiliated with any university or private company). What’s stopping us from building something similar in Calgary?
LESSON #3: Kitchener-Waterloo is also the heartland of Canada’s insurance business — think of iceberg chunks of money looking for a safe harbour. The insurance biz is very conservative and how it calculates risk even more so. Alberta’s Culture of Risk, meantime, is unique and quick on the draw. If the geology looks good, investors think nothing of drilling one, two, three or more dry holes — a gambler’s savvy holds great reward — staying in the game could produce a gusher here and there. But nobody stupid stays in the game for long. We also know how to fail fast and pivot. Let’s revitalize and leverage that risk-taking culture.
How? By saying yes to entrepreneurs like Rohit Joshi, CEO of Brightsquid, an Alberta tech start-up focused on ways to improve the secure sharing of patients’ data across healthcare providers. Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) organizational culture isn’t open to a lot of ‘risk’. Maybe with just a little nudging, AHS could become an energizing partner in Brightsquid’s efficiency-seeking, patient-designed idea.
That’s just one example of upping our game. I’ll have others in the next post...