It is now common to hear executives in business talk about their big hairy audacious goal or BHAG. Less common are mayors or city managers staking out an environmental or sustainability BHAG. In view of the material and strategic significance of climate change, for example, the transition to a low or no carbon economy would seem to be an obvious BHAG. And yet, looking across the world we see too many well-intentioned but incremental civic efforts, many under the banner of sustainability or livability, that fail to serve as a “unifying focal point of effort, and act as a clear catalyst for team spirit.” It’s time to celebrate those much rarer cities and city regions that are daring to reach for the moon. The unifying theme for these and other champion cities is a willingness to leave behind incremental progress and instead, embrace the audacious; bold goals that truly engage and captivate an audience – and “pull” it toward something better. Long may they prosper.
Posted on January 24th, 2015
The Keystone pipeline debate should remind us of the need for a national energy and economic strategy
The April 19 edition of The Globe and Mail contained a thoughtful profile of Tom Steyer, America’s largest single political donor and a fierce opponent of the Alberta tar sands and the Keystone XL project. Steyer’s key message for Canada is that our economy can survive without the oil patch. To do so, I believe it is well past time to start arguably the most important conversation in our nation’s history.
For all of the talk about the Keystone XL pipeline, what interests me is the conversation we aren’t having – but should. While considerable media attention is being given to the jobs versus environment debate, the real conversation is about perspective. This is the too often overlooked need to stand outside a particular frame of reference and look at conditions from a wider and/or longer context. The power of perspective is that it can reveal truths that are otherwise hard to see. This is especially apt in considering the way in which we consistently situate economic development opportunities in the zeitgeist and play these off against other “competing” interests such as environmental, social, cultural or heritage values. This is the truest frame within which to consider Keystone because in Canada our economic history has been defined by the “staple theory” advanced in the 1930s by Harold Innis, a political economist at the University of Toronto. Let me explain.
Posted on April 23rd, 2014
We believe that the world – and the world of business – is at a hinge point of history and that profound change in the way strategy is created, implemented, measured and reported will become commonplace as human society confronts manifold changes in the environment-energy-economy nexus. Our interest, emphasis and expertise are in creating the conditions for transformational rather than transactional change.