On the trail of Richard Florida, who said…

by Yule Heibel on October 22, 2007

…that creativity is revolutionizing the global economy. What Canadian cities have trouble with, however, is their tutelage to senior levels of government. Canadian cities are wholly the creatures of the Provinces and aside from property taxes can’t raise their own capital.

Read the following article by Lance Carlson, who proposes overcoming that hurdle through enlightened provincial leadership (article via the Edmonton Journal):

Creativity, innovation key to unlocking potential


Creativity and innovation are the answer to many of the challenges we face and the key to unlocking our potential. We want creative and innovative people in our businesses and non-profit organizations; governments need to find innovative answers to pressing issues, and we are hopeful that our children will learn the art of being creative as they move through our education system.

Innovation, although often used interchangeably with creativity, is not the same thing. Creativity is a human trait, whereas innovation is an improvement in the way we do things. Alberta needs more of both.

Unfortunately, we often think that only “special” people are creative and innovative. In fact, the evidence surrounding creativity and innovation tells us that virtually everyone possesses these abilities.


To truly invest in creativity and innovation, we have to understand that our resources should leverage the very principles of creativity and innovation. There are three things that we can do to make this happen.

First, collaboration and interaction are needed for new ideas to be translated into original actions. The myth of the singular, brooding creative genius who works in isolation is indeed a legend, as most research tells us that profound innovations typically emerge from social interaction and collaboration. We must facilitate the ability of the population to interact and engage in alliances so that “experts” are in dialogue with the general public, and members of the public with one another.


…we should eradicate barriers to innovation by identifying government policies that may discourage entrepreneurial activity. This might mean the reconfiguration of silo-like government ministries and agencies that actually work against imaginative solutions. The bureaucracy should be redesigned around a provincial vision for innovation, creativity and imagination that rejects the traditional approach of assigning responsibilities to departments based on a conventional understanding of specific functions.

Lance Carlson, who gets it, is president of the Alberta College of Art and Design.

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