IC Week 1 (Nov 12-16)

I’ve started working with the Imagination Catalyst — OCADU’s business incubator and centre for commercialization and entrepreneurship. It’s an exciting environment: OCADU has grown rapidly over the past few years, and the IC is one of its newest additions.

It comes not a moment too soon: uncertainty in the economy has meant that many young people are creating their own job opportunities. But it takes a while for many art & design students to come around to this reality. OCADU is adding business and entrepreneurship courses to the curriculum of some programs, but the Imagination Catalyst further helps to prepare students to take an entrepreneurial approach to their careers. Equally importantly, the IC will demonstrate the value of art & design education to industry, by assisting with the commercialization of student projects.

My role is to craft the “strategic intent”1 — the glue that connects vision and plan — for the Imagination Catalyst. Expectations are high, and within OCADU there are a multiplicity of perspectives on how the university should engage with commercialization and entrepreneurship.

The potential is, of course, huge. Art & design can make enormous contributions to the business, non-profit and government sectors — particularly in our present context, in which creative approaches are essential for leading us out of mire. OCADU has a key role to play here, and the IC will be an important part of demonstrating and communicating the possibilities.

I’m starting (as one would with any new project) with data collection: talking to people, and reading. This week I sat down with Mark and Jessica of (IC participant company) TeamWave, Zev and Angie who work on career development and experiential learning within OCADU’s Student Success Programs, Asma who has the extraordinary ability to keep track of the huge number of projects emerging from the Digital Futures Initiative and the Research Office, and one prospective industry research partner.

Next week will be almost all meetings/interviews — and I can’t wait! It’s a privilege to have this opportunity to speak at length with such a diverse group.

[1] See “In Studio: Recipes for Systemic Change” by Boyer, Cook & Steinberg, p.23. And “Strategic Intent,” by Gary Hamel & C.K. Prahalad, Harvard Business Review, May-June 1989.

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