I have authored and co-authored many reports, briefings and blog posts through my years at the Conference Board of Canada. Below are the abstracts and links to the publicly published reports and briefings available for download at the Conference Board’s elibrary.
- Driving Knowledge Management for Innovation
The Conference Board of Canada, 32 pages, May 25, 2015
Briefing by Sarah Dimick
Good knowledge management (KM) and innovation are strongly connected. Drawing on a literature review and interviews with innovative organizations, this briefing identifies and explores KM best practices.
There is a known connection between good knowledge management (KM) and innovation. This briefing identifies and explores ways in which KM can drive innovation within firms. The author compiled data from a detailed literature review. She then added practical elements to the theoretical groundwork in the literature by interviewing representatives of a carefully selected group of innovative organizations to gather best practices. The research shows that KM best practices are contextually appropriate, engaging, and flexible. The ease with which information flows, the culture that supports sharing it, and the ability to make cross-organization connections all contribute to innovation in an organization. However, maintaining an environment, culture, and practices that nurture knowledge exchange, application, and impact takes commitment.
- Driving Creativity and Commercialization: Innovation by Design
The Conference Board of Canada, 25 pages, November 20, 2014
Briefing by Sarah Dimick
This briefing examines three initiatives—innovation ecosystems, sandboxes, and harnessing the power of big data—implemented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create a thriving innovation culture.
In October 2013, representatives of The Conference Board of Canada and a group of innovation-focused executives travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a study tour at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The tour provided an experience not only to “see” and “feel” the day-to-day workings of MIT’s innovation ecosystem, but also to hear from experts in the field. This briefing explores the overarching lessons learned on this study tour: the conditions necessary to encourage a robust innovation culture and ecosystem can be built specifically for that purpose. Moreover, the creativity that so many of us assume is innate is actually sparked through a collection of deliberate design elements such as those we saw applied at MIT.
The briefing examines three initiatives—innovation ecosystems, sandboxes, and harnessing the power of big data. Through a detailed literature review, targeted interviews, and a collection of lessons gleaned from the study tour, it provides insights and showcases best practices employed in some of the most successful examples of cross-pollination.
- Adopting Digital Technologies: The Path for SMEs
The Conference Board of Canada, 13 pages, February 24, 2014
Briefing by Sarah Dimick
This briefing addresses the issue of digital technology adoption for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It examines lessons learned and identifies best practices for and barriers to adoption.
Given that Canadian SMEs are significant drivers of the economy, boosting productivity in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will play a substantial role in growing the Canadian economy. Productivity is essentially tied to incorporating new technologies into practices that enable greater international competitiveness. Boosting productivity will require changes in our approach to innovation and competitiveness, including digital technology adoption. Despite the benefits to productivity, SMEs are slow to take the essential leap and invest in adopting new technologies. This briefing addresses the issue of digital technology adoption for SMEs. It examines lessons learned and identifies best practices of SMEs that have already gone through the process of adopting technologies. It also identifies barriers to digital technology adoption for SMEs. Research included input from a one-day workshop for SMEs and a collection of interviews with SMEs who are interested in digital technology adoption or who have recently undergone the process.
- The New CIO Value Proposition: Leading Innovation for Business Value and Growth
The Conference Board of Canada, November 6, 2013
Briefing by Sarah Dimick
The role of the Chief Information Officer has changed. This briefing examines how CIOs can influence—and drive—innovation in their organizations.
Innovation is about creating and sharing ideas, then turning those ideas into new business opportunities. That process involves change, critical thinking, and disruption, and can be uncomfortable for businesses. But innovation is critical for growth, so organizations need someone who can lead and drive innovation. This briefing examines the ways in which Chief Information Officers are increasingly taking the lead on innovation within organizations and are driving change and growth. It draws on the findings of a study tour from the Conference Board of Canada’s Council of Chief Information Officers in addition to the findings of surveys and primary and secondary research.
- Canada as a Global Leader: Delivering Value through Public-Private Partnerships at Home and Abroad
The Conference Board of Canada, 70 pages, August 21, 2013
Report by Vijay Gill, Sarah Dimick
How are private-private partnerships (P3) in Canada faring? Both the benefits and drawbacks of P3 procurement are examined, as well as the potential for creating export opportunities for Canadian companies.
Private-private partnerships (P3) are one of the procurement alternatives for infrastructure delivery service. Canada as a Global Leader: Delivering Value through Public-Private Partnerships at Home and Abroad is an update to The Conference Board of Canada’s 2010 report, Dispelling the Myths.
As well as a literature review, interviews were held with more than 30 P3 practitioners and observers from across Canada. The potential benefits identified are time savings, optimization of life-cycle spending, long-term guarantees on maintenance, innovation solutions, cost savings, and checks/balances in contracting. The potential drawbacks include private financing rates, the risk premium, transaction costs, lead times, and non-effective risk transfer.
The P3 market in Canada is known to be one of the most stable and developed in the world. However, the domestic market has matured to a level where significant growth is unlikely to occur, unless there is greater penetration of the municipal market or greater sophistication of P3 projects.
- Adding Value—Canada as a Platform for Global Manufacturing: Competitiveness in Canadian Manufacturing
The Conference Board of Canada, 56 pages, June 11, 2013
Report by Sarah Dimick, Crystal Hoganson
This report examines Canadian competitiveness in manufacturing. It presents a clear picture of forces that impact competitiveness in the Canadian manufacturing sector and seeks to inform further discussion on the subject.
Manufacturing is a key element for a healthy economy and represents the single largest business sector in Canada. Although the sector has begun to recover from the international recession of 2008–09, it still faces many challenges and has yet to attain pre-recession levels. Fierce pressures on the manufacturing sector demand increasingly nimble, service-oriented, and specialized manufactured goods. In this changing world, maintaining competitiveness is essential.
Through a comprehensive literature review, a series of interviews with manufacturing and competitiveness stakeholders, and conference proceedings, this report examines Canadian competitiveness in manufacturing. The report identifies three broad themes that work to impact competitiveness and contribute to an innovation ecosystem: human capital; government policies, investments and influence; and the Canadian physical environment.
This report presents a clear picture of forces that impact competitiveness in the Canadian manufacturing sector. The goal is to set the stage for further understanding and discussion around competitiveness in the Canadian manufacturing sector.
- Energy Management in Commercial Buildings: The Value of Best Practices
The Conference Board of Canada, 42 pages, May 10, 2012
Report by Len Coad, Sarah Dimick
This report summarizes many best practices in energy management and the operation of buildings. It reviews the benefits of adopting these practices and examines the barriers that have hindered broad implementation.
Energy Management in Commercial Buildings summarizes many best practices in energy management and the operation of buildings. The report reviews the benefits derived from adopting these practices and examines the barriers that have hindered the broad implementation of them. Interviews with representatives of each stakeholder group help to further define the challenges as well as the opportunities. In addition, the roles of each of the stakeholders are discussed. The report concludes with several recommendations that could improve the level of implementation of energy management and energy efficiency best practices.
- Progress Toward Clean Electricity Case Studies of Three Canadian Jurisdictions
The Conference Board of Canada, 64 pages, November 12, 2010
Report by Graham Campbell, Len Coad, Sarah Dimick
Changes in the electricity systems of three provinces (Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta) in the last 15 years are helping to make progress toward clean electricity in Canada. Customized, multi-faceted approaches are being taken by each jurisdiction.
This assessment of selected changes made to the electricity systems in three contrasting jurisdictions—Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta—shows that the progress being made is contributing positively to the transition to clean electricity in Canada. The changes studied are in the areas of electricity policies, generation mix, transmission capacity and grid management, and conservation and energy efficiency. Each jurisdiction has taken a customized approach matched to its own circumstances. Three case studies provide valuable information and useful reference points for other jurisdictions pursing the complex pathway to clean electricity. This research report concludes that good progress is being made, but there is still some way to go in developing clean electricity systems in Canada.
- Conflicting Forces for Canadian Prosperity—Examining the Interplay Between Regulation and Innovation
The Conference Board of Canada, 52 pages, February 1, 2010
Report by Len Coad, Sarah Dimick
Conflicting Forces for Canadian Prosperity examines the complex relationship between innovation and regulation. Two highly innovative sectors—biotechnology and renewable and alternative energy—are examined as case studies and recommendations are put forward.
As a part of the CanCompete project, this report contributes to the overall mandate of examining issues that affect Canada’s prosperity by exploring the complex relationship between innovation and regulation. It asks the question: Are governments within Canada investing resources in the support of further innovation, while at the same time putting the brakes on innovation through regulation? Using two sectoral case studies, literature reviews, and primary and secondary research, the research question is explored in more depth.
The findings of the report point to the reality that the supporting and constraining forces are both being put into motion by Canadian governments and that both are necessary. The true challenge is in finding and establishing the necessary balance between the two—a balance where regulation works to maintain health and safety while innovation is still encouraged and the process of innovation is not derailed by inappropriate regulation.