Improving the Industry: Invention, Innovation and Design Image

Improving the Industry: Invention, Innovation and Design


I was lucky enough to attend a presentation last week at the Calgary Real Estate Board as part of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s (AREF) Thought Leaders series. The speaker was none other than Senior ATB Financial economist Todd Hirsch, who is also co-author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline.

Given his position as an economist, you would expect Todd to have heaps of advice for financial policy makers, but instead he has some telling advice for average Canadians. Todd’s perspective is that Canadians need to become much more creative and this means a revolution in education and in how creativity is harnessed in the workplace.

One of the things that struck me the most during Todd’s presentation was his examination of invention, innovation and design – and what influence each of those things has on Canadian success and the Canadian economy as a whole.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines invention as “a discovery or finding; a device, contrivance or process originated after study and experiment.” That same dictionary defines innovation as “the introduction of something new; a new idea, method or device: novelty,” and design as “to draw, lay out or prepare a design; to devise for a specific function or end; to create, fashion, execute or construct according to plan.”

How do these three terms relate to creativity? And, more importantly, how can they improve – or enhance – Alberta’s real estate industry, consumer protection, professionalism and the relative success of Alberta’s real estate industry professionals?

Todd maintains that true invention is rare. Rather, he believes it’s innovation and design that will really propel us forward. Doing new things with old products; redesigning products and processes in ways to accomplish more; making items more attractive using design.

How do these concepts relate to Alberta’s real estate and mortgage brokerage? While invention within the industry may not be that common, we see examples of innovation and design on a regular basis. Innovation in providing services, and enhanced design of business models have the ability to continually enhance the industry – and provide new opportunities for professionals.

Which of the three do you think will go the longest way to enhancing Alberta’s real estate industry? How do you incorporate invention, innovation and/or design in your business practices?