Are Canadians fat and happy? Of course this quote, based on the Deloitte report discussed elsewhere is somewhat glib and and is a turn on the cliche of being "lean and mean". However, the concept does raise the question of whether or not there is a predisposition to accept mediocrity as opposed to a culture of winning and success. Like any cliche, these are generalizations and clearly Canada has many very successful, innovative and competitive companies. A more interesting question is to look at the extent to which there is a competitive culture that is pervasive in successful organizations and how Canadian organizations measure up; compared to each other and to the best in their industries. Also, this has to be thought of in terms of sustainability. Perhaps managers of Lehman Brothers viewed their organization as lean and mean before the company collapsed.
Are Canadian managers risk averse? Again this question is too general, but it could be boiled down to an assessment of risk taking, risk management and risk aversion in
organizations. A better question is perhaps "what is the role of risk taking in successful organizations"? Is there a culture that rewards risk taking? How is risk managed so that staff have reasonable levels of responsibility in taking risks without putting the organization in jeopardy.
Do Canadian organizations encourage innovation? Of course some do and some don't. The key question is what the difference is in successful organizations and how Canadian organizations measure up to some of the leading organizations in the world.
The focus of interest would not be so much on measures such as the number of patents granted etc but the extent to which innovation is encouraged and supported throughout the organization as part of its culture. The alternative would also be of interest, which is to look at the barriers to innovation in Canadian organizations and the extent to which it is discouraged.
Leadership. The challenge here would be to define leadership and measure it. This can be done to some extent at a macro level by looking at e.g. growth in market share, share price etc. Another would be the role in mergers and acquisitions. For example, why is that so many Canadian companies seem to have been acquired recently? Why could Canadian companies such as Alcan, Inco, Falconbridge, Nortel, RIM not maintain their position in sectors they once dominated? One question here is whether or not this is in fact true, perhaps smaller up and coming businesses will take over the leadership in other sectors. The other question would be to look at the perceptions of leadership from inside the organization. Is it viewed as being ethical, intelligent, experienced etc. and how do these perceptions vary between organizations?
Other issues to be explored in more detail;
Developing a definition of sustainable productivity that looks at the impact of productivity on the organization and the individual as well as the environment and societies.
The role of ethics in leadership and competitive success or failure,
Canadian educational institutions; are they producing true leaders and innovators?
Bureaucracy and the ability to break down silos and boundaries between disciplines.