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So Canada “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I know it’s un-Canadian to speak up but I can’t help myself! We keep hearing it over and over again but I wonder if we really get it. The world is becoming a much smaller place, technology has sped up the pace of change and driven transparency, and what provided us as Canadians with such a strong middle class is going away, or at the very least dying a slow death.

Before we figure out what we want to be we need to take a look at who we are (at least in the business community). By and large Canadian businesses tend to be risk adverse, slower than our US counterparts to adopt technology and lifestyle entrepreneurs (i.e. our priority is the lifestyle our business provide us rather than building a conglomerate or at least a business that survives past our lifetime).

The challenge is, what got us that better life to date is changing and fast! Being a resource rich country has made up for our small population and sprawling geography. But nothing lasts forever. Our resources are depleting and up and comers are taking over domination of commodities.

We need to step back and focus on our strengths. As Canadians what is it we are really good at. In a word, well two words: “playing nice”. Worldwide, Canadians have earned a reputation as being fair, respectful, accepting and understanding. In other words we are collaborative. We know how to play nice in the sandbox with pretty much, well, anybody.

Hang on I think I have a nugget of an idea here. Isn’t collaboration rising as the new buzzword in business? Isn’t it well known that creativity and innovation are a collective effort? Isn’t creativity and innovation the key to prosperity in the new global economy? Call me crazy, but that sounds a lot like a unique competitive advantage. Perhaps this is something we need to fulfill and promote on a world stage. The best part is that it’s innately how we are wired as Canadians, so it would be effortless to sustain!

Now here comes the next perhaps more challenging part. How do we get the word out, get “buy in” and quite literally get everyone on the same page? My belief is (and here’s that word again) we need a collaborative effort between government, education and business. And here’s the good news, I’m seeing more and more of that collaboration in events I attend, politicians I talk with, education leaders I meet. Now for my next question, who’s going to spearhead the initiative? Now there’s something to contemplate – hopefully not for too long – now’s the time to take action. Any volunteers?

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