Review: Mantra Design Innovate, Buy,or Die

Overall, I rate Mantra Design; Innovate, Buy or Die!  by Dana Oliver:

Dana Oliver has written a great book on profitable innovation.  He covers many aspects of innovation from culture to commercialization and he does it in a way that every entrepreneur or corporate leader can take away a gem for implementation.

What I liked best was Oliver’s focus on the customer. In a world where program management/project management focuses on stakeholders, I believe that we  have lost focus on who pays the bills…our customers.

This message was loud and clear with suggestions throughout his work on how to leverage product innovation to engage customers.  He advises us to “look for opportunities to protect key accounts by including them in organic development”. Oliver advises us to focus on profitable innovation by keeping the most important features for our customers in scope. He also reminds us to communicate our latest concepts with our customers twenty times! We need to ensure that we solve our customer’s business problems with our product innovation.

Testing was also well discussed. Quality testing needs to go beyond simple test plans because a product needs to work beyond the day we first receive it. Test plans need to include time and customer simulations. This I challenge my cohorts in I/T – it is no longer good enough to document lessons learned – you need to anticipate!

You may be wondering how a return to customer focus will improve customer social responsibility…well with an increase in consumer activism and more companies focused on CSR as a way to increase profits – the customer will be asking for CSR deliverables and products that respect people, planet and profit.

Oliver’s blunt discussion about how structured processes can sabotage creativity and innovation challenge the reader to create a balance between the two. He gives implementable ideas for individuals and corporations on the how to.

As a program director , I will be implementing Oliver’s suggestion:

“Spend 15% of your time on innovation.” in both my personal and organization’s time management.

My only criticism of Oliver’s work is that there may be too much good information in his book to digest and action.

…and to my colleagues in program leadership, I challenge you to increase your organization’s focus on innovation and lessen the dependence on structured process… are you up for that?

yours in Corporate Social Responsibility

Cara MacMillan


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Well Kept Wallet

Recently I had the privilege of being interviewed by Deacon Hayes. We had the opportunity to discuss my book It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!


Here is our interview:

Interview with Deacon Hayes

Interview with Deacon Hayes

Really enjoyed Deacon’s insights. He practices what he preaches, check out more of his insights on:

Getting Started with Well Kept Wallet

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Entrepreneur and Inspiration

Recently, I had the privilege of hearing Waneek Horn-Miller speak at Start Up on the Hill.  wow. She is amazing.

Waneek Horn-Miller inspirational at Start Up Canada!

Waneek Horn-Miller inspirational at Start Up Canada!

Waneek introduced herself in her First Nations name. Then she smiled as she said, “I come in peace.” The audience laughed with her as she explained that, as a Mohawk, it is part of her tradition to advise that she comes in peace.  I am ashamed to say that I did not get the joke. So my friend later explained that historically, the Mohawk Nation did not always come in peace.

Waneek came with energy passion and commitment.  At Start Up on the Hill, she was introduced as a survivor of the Oka Crisis of the 1990s.  Survivor?  There was little understanding of the Oka Crisis among myself and my friends at that time. It was the summer of 1990. Our newspapers were filled with the success of the Toronto Blue Jays who we all hoped would win the American League East.

But only hours away, Mohawks stood up to the Quebec government  against the planned new development and expansion of a golf course onto sacred land. The Kanestake  Mohawks built a barricade to stop access to their lands. The standoff became violent at times, including an incident when 14 year old Waneek was almost fatally stabbed by a soldier’s bayonet. Wow again. Waneek has consistently stood up for her beliefs.

And at Start Up on the Hill, the national conference to promote, support and encourage entrepreneurs in Canada, Waneek stands up again. As the Brand ambassador, Waneek explains why Manitobah Mukluks is completely aligned with her beliefs:

“We need everyone to have their basic needs met and given the faith that we can share in Canada’s success.”

Waneek is also a former Olympian who represented Canada at the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of  the women’s Water Polo team. Waneek spoke about teamwork. On our team, we did not see colour, or ancestry, we only saw each other and we worked side by side for the success of our team.

Waneek brings this experience to Manitobah Mukluks. The dream of the company is to be the best in the world…walk with us. The challenge was to take on an ancient technology and evolve it into something that could be worn in the high fashion urban centres. There was push back from those who wanted to preserve the traditional ways. Focus was to respect tradition while meeting function, quality, comfort, fashion and being current.

The company respects people, our planet and profit.

I am inspired listening to Waneek Horn-Miller.

I am proud that we are both Carleton University Alumni.

I am proud that we are both Canadian.

and yes I love my Manitobah Mukluks.

Manitobah Mukluks link

Manitobah Mukluks link








yours in Corporate Social Responsibility

Cara MacMillan


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Forest Fires and Climate Change

A playground destroyed by fire

A playground destroyed by fire  

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by the devastating forest fires of northern Alberta.

What I am about to discuss will offend some people.

Fires are devastating. We as a society are contributing to the explosiveness of forest fires. We are not doing it intentionally but now that we are beginning to see that some of our economic choices have a destructive and devastating impact, we need to keep an open mind and an open heart. We can make a difference.

Forest fires need three things: fuel, ignition and weather. The fuel needs to be dry and easy to burn. Ignition can come from lightning which is a byproduct of extreme weather like thunderstorms. Weather can feed a fire by blowing oxygen into it or kill it with rain/precipitation.

So what does Climate Change have to do with it?

Climate Change has been linked to an increase in temperatures and droughts. 2016 is the warmest year on record. Northern Alberta has experienced the third most dry and the second hottest winter and spring on record. The weather has been higher than 30°C or 86°F. Let’s just say this – for Northern Canada that’s hot! Historically the temperature in Northern Alberta for this time of year would be 13°C or 55°F.

Climate Change has been linked to powerful winds. Wind is created by air moving from areas of high pressure to low pressure. Pressure changes as a result of uneven heating of the earth’s atmosphere. As the oceans warm and glaciers melt, warmer winds blow. These winds become more powerful as they blow towards areas of lower pressure. Last week, in the case of Northern Alberta, the winds consistently exceeded 30Km/hour or 18mph.

Climate change has been linked to droughts. The warmer weather leads to more evaporation. Water is literally sucked out of the forests and they become dry and more susceptible to fire.

Forest fires are a way of life in the Boreal forests of Northern Alberta. But what is different is the amount of area burned. It has doubled since the 1970s. The fire season now begins before winter is scheduled to end. It began March 1st 2016. I am told that in the 1970s, forest fire season began in June.

Today we have many refugees of Climate Change here in Canada.

We need to work together to find ways that will decrease our carbon footprint. It is time to rebuild the Canadian economy. We can.

Fort McMurray was first founded as a Hudson Bay Trading Post in 1879. The first explorers brought trade and opportunity. They worked collaboratively with our First Nations. They shared their faith, their wealth and their hope for the future.

We need the spirit of our Canadian explorers to return and rebuild northern Alberta. We need to work collaboratively with our First Nations. We need to share our faith, our wealth and our hope for the future.

Northern Lights of Fort McMurray

Northern Lights of Fort McMurray

For all the refugees of Climate Change, let us find creative ways to rebuild your homes, your economy and let us together minimize our carbon footprint so that we can let our children play and prosper. We pray.

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World Domination

“What are we going to do tonight Brain? Same thing we do every night Pinky…Try to take over the World!”

Pinky and the Brain

Pinky and the Brain

It has been twenty years since Stephen Spielberg and Tom Ruegger created Pinky and the Brain – a delightful cartoon about two friends who plot to take over the world. I hope that they are still trying.

This week, many of us met in Ottawa for the The Conference Board of Canada’s Business Innovation Summit. This will be the first in a series of blogs aimed at sharing the ideas of many brilliant, innovative and courageous individuals who also want to see Canada again try to take over the World. Now unlike the Brain, no one was sinister nor devious, everyone was inspirational. They were honest, focused and committed to renewing the economy.

What is innovation? It is something new – a new process, new product, a new way of doing things. For Canadians, it will be a new way of doing things.

It is time for Canadians to be innovative and do things differently. The challenge will be to create a sense of urgency. As I watched in sadness the wildfires of Alberta today, I hoped that this might be the trigger that ignites an understanding that we must do things differently.

We have the people. We have the technology. We have the sales and commercialization skills. We just need to start living our values and aligning them economically.

So what are the values with which Canada wants to take over the world?

  • Peace
  • Diversity
  • Trade and Partnership
  • Giving Back
  • Wealth
  • Respect

Sorry Brain….we will take over the world.


yours in Corporate Social Responsibility

Cara MacMillan



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