Innovation: Get Paid to be a Pain in the A**

Innovation sounds cool, doesn’t it? It’s actually quite uncomfortable. It is just another word for change after all; albeit, with a positive connotation. Change needs to be managed. Could you imagine if one day everyone in Canada started driving on the left side of the road? It wouldn’t happen. Not before all the announcements and the awkward transition period. Change management, to me, is the philosophy of how to inspire, introduce and/or implement an innovation.

Time has really been flying since I graduated from Ryerson’s MBA Program in the Management of Technology and Innovation. Since graduation, I’ve been working as an independent contractor delivering market research analysis, digital innovation and marketing strategy.

My latest contract is just wrapping up as I write this. It was a dream opportunity (for me) to be part of a very forward thinking concept: the integration of sustainable technology into our day-to-day lives.

I’ve been travelling from Toronto to Waterloo and London quite a bit, where I’ve been helping conduct a market research study on the development of sustainable communities. The company I’ve worked with, s2e Technologies Inc. is adopting an innovative approach to marketing by focusing their efforts on building a holistic understanding of a target niche as opposed to relying on demographic data. s2e has a very bright future and I’m hoping our relationship continues to expand and flourish.

Before that, I was doing digital and commercialization strategy for Augmented World Engines (AWE Company for short.) They build and facilitate augmented and mixed reality experiences. At AWE, I was able to leverage my experience with social media to help them overcome issues with specialized content producers. Social media sharing gives us a method of democratizing and spreading content that other channels simply can’t provide. This has been one of the coolest projects I could imagine being part of.

So how did I get here? In January 2012, I was an employee of the Federal Government providing the Department of Public Safety with social media strategy. Public Safety was in a transition period; getting to know the new media tools and how they can be leveraged to improve upon existing processes. It was cool because I got the chance to help manage a change in a high stakes environment.

I knew I could do more, and that I personally needed a consistent change of circumstance in order to keep growing. Eventually, I began to feel a desire to go back to school. I endeavoured to learn more about technology and innovation, with a business lens because that was my educational background. It was a natural extension for me.

My year at Ryerson built me up in many different ways. I am far more conscious about the judgments I make. I’m more discerning. Overall, I’m more confident in my decision making.

I did an internship at the Digital Media Zone. It’s this collection of tech start-ups in Toronto, but it’s also a Ryerson program that helps incubate new ideas. It was there that I linked up with a company called Komodo Openlab.

Komodo Openlab deals with “assistive technology” – innovations that help physically disabled people use the tools many people take for granted. Canada has close to a million people that could be working, but aren’t because of their disabilities. Looking globally, it extends from there. If technology is supposed to improve our lives, why don’t we hold it to the task?

Komodo wanted help tracking some upcoming legislation that affected their space, so I built them an intelligence report based off of social media data. I also took a critical look at what else was trending in their space and contrasted that against the upcoming innovation support initiatives the Canadian Government has committed to in the Economic Action Plan. The result was a report that helps direct marketing efforts and steers Komodo towards a more sustainable path.

Innovation is a bit about being a pain in the a** while coming with the suggestions on how to make the rest of someone’s pain go away. The key thing to remember here is I am not bringing in new pain that is unresolvable. That’s called being a useless pain in the a** – we all know them, no one wants to be them.

When I innovate, I bring a solution. People (bosses, friends, anyone really) don’t want to hear there’s a problem, or inefficiency. You have to be willing to bear the brunt of their frustration before showing them the light. They won’t get behind something unless they know that things will be better if they do. This confidence comes from you, as the change manager, innovator, facilitator of innovative process, or whatever you want to be called.

I think all day – one of those people who “can’t turn off”. Why not get paid to do it? I’m starting to think more about sustainability and how business can be leveraged for the good of the environment. When it comes down to it, I‘m really just looking for the harmony between financial gain and the feeling that I’m doing something that I consider to be beneficial to society.

The connections I made in this program have helped me get closer to this harmony, and so I would like to thank everyone at the Ryerson MBA program.

Thank you for helping me manage my own personal change,

Cheers from David.

(PS – sorry for being a pain in the a**)


David Glazer is a graduate of the Ryerson MBA MTI (Management of Technology and Innovation) program, class of 2013.

Twitter: @HashtagGlazerEmail: