CSA's blog - Open for innovation

One of the great things about rebuilding the Canadian Stuttering Association is that we can engage with new, high quality ideas and the people behind them. In fact, we have to.  Our focus is on solving problems and we’re small with relatively few resources, yet a very broad scope.

New perspectives drive innovation. Enter Dwayne Spradlin’s new book  Open Innovation Marketplace. The central idea is that established organisations can lose the freshness and flexibility to tackle pressing problems. It is people outside these organisations - often people in the earlier part of their careers or on the margins of an issue - who bring new approaches and ideas to bear on problems.


New people can also help to redefine the problem in the first place. Who would have thought that stuttering is cool? This idea, taken on and developed by Daniele Rossi,  has become such an engaging way to reach out to people, that it can still surprise me after a couple of years. Dan’s social media expertise has made stuttering even cooler - and more widely known. This in turn helped to begin revitalising the Canadian Stuttering Association.

We have much to gain from applying knowledge from different fields

Diversity can drive innovation.  Here I’m talking about cultural diversity, though only as a starting point.  It’s a point though, that businesses are making through training in hidden biases in recruitment and promotion.

Companies like Ernst and Young, Deloitte and Google run seminars for staff on dealing with hidden biases that can hinder their long-term prospects.


Innovation doesn’t even need expert knowledge of the immediate problem at hand - just relevant expertise. Take Chad Comeau. Though he stutters, his expertise in is gaming and he is developing a great new tool to help people understand the experience of stuttering.  Through contact with one of CSA’s founders (Jaan Pill), Chad is in contact with Karen Hollett, who brought her own experiences of stuttering to write a book for children who stutter - Hooray for Aiden.

As CSA’s national coordinator, what’s my role here? Since I’m relatively new to Canada, I’m finding my way around the system and drawing on my professional experience in Britain. But I can see the potential for CSA and I’m determined to build the support to make things happen.  I’m quite good at connecting people - people who might just view what CSA is trying to do with new eyes, and then work with others to create something really good.

I think we have much to gain from applying knowledge from different fields to our growth and outreach.  The worst that could happen is that we end up with a lot of interesting new ideas to work through. As we rebuild, we can start - at the start - by reaching out to engage a diverse range of people.

If we can crowdsource money, shouldn’t we start by crowdsourcing ideas?

What are yours?

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