David Johnston, the governor general of Canada, has called on the co-operative sector to innovate.
The governor, who represents the Canadian monarch Queen Elizabeth, outlined the challenges facing the world today.
He said the information revolution is “changing everything” and that people are more fixated on new devices rather than the impact on how we do business, government, health and education.
“This state of affairs has major implications for all of us,” said Mr Johnston, “including those of you who are charting the future of our co-operatives. That is why I am so pleased to note this Summit’s focus on innovation.”
Mr Johnston added that “innovation is not a product, but rather a perpetual work-in-progress that can give rise to new and better ways of doing things”.
He said: “In my experience, an innovative organisation is one that is ambitious and desires to be a leader; that does not limit itself to working in silos, but rather looks outward and collaborates widely; and that celebrates and rewards responsible risk-taking and excellence in creativity.
“Now that may sound relatively straightforward, but as you know being all of those things in practice is no easy task. It is not easy to be a leader; to reach out across institutional and geographic borders; to take the time to celebrate excellence. These things require courage, patience, dedication and, very often, an investment of resources.
“That being said, innovation is no longer just an option—it is an imperative. Success in the years to come will belong to those enterprises that are able to successfully innovate and evolve, while building upon their unique strengths and advantages.”
Mr Johnston believes the co-operative sector is “unique for its ability to harness our values of self-help, responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity in pursuit of shared goals”. “Those are important and timeless values, and the relevance of co-operatives is without question,” he commented.
“Your challenge as professionals is to retain the strengths of co-operatives while innovating for our contemporary context. It is a delicate balance and a significant challenge, and this is why it is so important that you come together at events such as this to share and support each other.”
- For more updates from the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives, click here
Join the Conversation