Walk into a room to discuss a significant social problem. Walk out with a solution. How often do you get a chance to try and do that?
Well that’s precisely the vision behind a December 1st Ideation Session being conducted by inVision Edge, one of several partners working together to help bring North Forge’s very first Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge to life.
The Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge was designed to engage the community in generating ideas to solve complex social issues. For this inaugural event, North Forge is asking the community to help solve the concerningly low national ranking Manitoba holds for child literacy and numeracy skills.
“When I heard how poorly Manitoba ranks when it comes to childhood literacy and numeracy I was shocked,” said Jeff Ryzner, President of North Forge Technology Exchange. “These are fundamental indicators for success where you can draw a direct line to economic and social well-being. And the opposite is equally true – 360 degree failure if we don’t achieve in these areas.”
The ranking Ryzner speaks of comes from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD), which places Manitoba youth 8th and 9th out of all ten provinces when measuring literacy and numeracy skills. Provincial research also shows that this gap begins at a very early age, with data showing in some Manitoba communities up to 77% of kindergarteners are not ready for grade 1 literacy and numeracy curricula.
The Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge invites the community to submit innovative ideas on how to address this issue and get Manitoba on the right track. But Ryzner knew they had to take things one step further, which is where inVision Edge comes in.
“Like any other discipline, creating innovation isn’t magic, it’s a process,” says John Ferris, CEO of inVision Edge. “What our company has done is create a repeatable process that all types of organizations can use – private, government, not-for-profits – to develop innovation related to their particular industry.”
The process inVision Edge utilizes will be on full display for those joining their Ideation Session on December 1st, as they look to harness the energy and imagination of the attendees to solve this very real challenge for Manitoba.
“The more people in the room and the more diversity in the room, the better,” says Ferris. “We’ll use the first part of the day to frame the issue and then we use different tools to stimulate idea generation at the individual level, then moving to larger and larger groups.”
The process is very much based in business principles, but attendees expecting to work through your everyday “brainstorming” type of exercise will likely be in for a surprise.
“The standard flip-chart exercises are great at some things but not for creating innovative ideas because you’re just creating a list of thoughts that are already in people’s heads,” says Ferris. “Our process is specifically designed to stimulate new ways of thinking, which is what innovation is all about. So at the end of the session, our expectation is that the group will walk away with some very big ideas to address a very big problem.”
And for those wanting to participate but don’t believe they have what it takes to be innovative, Ferris has a very specific message.
“Absolutely anyone can be innovative if they’re given the right toolset, and that’s exactly what we provide.”