Symposium Panel at AUFB on October 22, 2015

Innovation and Productivity Symposium

Event Summary

On October 22, 2014, the Faculty of Business, in partnership with Toyota, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and the Conference Board of Canada hosted an Innovation and Productivity Symposium and panel discussion on innovation and productivity challenges affecting Canadian business. The event was hosted by Dr. Deborah Hurst, Dean (acting) of the Faculty of Business and brought together leading productivity experts – including Bill Oliver (Assistant General Manager, Assembly – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada), Douglas Watt (Director, Industry and Business Strategy Research – The Conference Board of Canada), Hon Kevin Flynn (MPP Oakville – Minister of Labour), David Hogg (Lean eNewsletter – Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters) and Bob Kerr (ViSiFlex Solutions) – to discuss issues and solutions to Canada’s widening productivity gap.

The intent of the Symposium was to step back from the process of doing the work, to look at the big picture and come up with creative solutions to push innovation and productivity forward provided by our panelists. By hosting the Toronto symposium and offering the first university-accredited program on innovation and productivity in Canada, Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business is working to spur action on productivity and innovation improvement in Canadian business. For more information on AU’s LEAN Six Sigma Green Belt certificate or Diploma in Innovation and Productivity Management, see the attached (PDF) LEAN Certificate & Diploma


Speakers and Presentations Bill Oliver, MBA
Assistant General Manager, Assembly – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada

Bill joined TMMC in 1988, and is responsible for all aspects of the vehicle assembly process at the Woodstock facility including Production, Internal Logistics, Engineering and Maintenance. Bill spoke about the importance of leadership in productivity and innovation. Bill emphasized that leaders must be present and cannot go it alone and must engage employees to foster productivity.

The Role of Leadership in Productivity and Innovation – Bill Oliver (pdf) Hogg, P.Eng.
Editor, Accelerating the Journey, Lean eNewsletter – Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

David has a wide background in engineering, manufacturing, management, education, and the installation of leveraged learning networks (Lean Consortia). He currently edits Accelerating the Journey, a bi-weekly Lean eLetter, for Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. David’s presentation focused on the history of Lean and noted effective Lean practices is based on having the right people as part of the cultural change.

Exploiting LEAN Principles in Innovation & Productivity – David Hogg (pdf) Watt, M.PI.
Director, Industry and Business Strategy Research – The Conference Board of Canada

Doug has been with the Conference Board for 17 years and has focused much of his efforts on skills, competitiveness, innovation, and productivity. Doug is leading the Conference Board’s Centre for Business Innovation’s human capital research projects. Doug spoke about the offensive and defensive reasons that force organizations to innovate.

Conference Board of Canada – Doug Watt (pdf)
CBoC – Innovation Skills Profile2.0 (2013) Kerr
President – ViSiFlex Solutions

Bob emphasized that allowing creativity as means to solutions from front-line workers is the best way to increase productivity. These solutions do not always need to be high-tech and high-budget, but can be simple ideas to meet organizational obstacles. He also focused on the need for organizations to embrace mistakes to learn from them in a meaningful way and he challenged the audience to get out of their comfort zone and adopt a certain degree of risk taking in day-to-day business.  

Innovation & Productivity – Bob Kerr (pdf)