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Posted: March 1, 2020

Canada has gone ‘bananas’

This is our opportunity to create shared value!

By David B Savage

Op-Ed Commentary

‘Bananas’: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

Canadians are proud of our culture, our education system, our health care, our entrepreneurship and our land. Yet, the lack of vision and leadership from many of our top politicians (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan included) has defeated many significant projects, communities, innovations and collaborations. In recent years and today, the vocal few are running our nation and our province.

Teck Frontier Oil Sands Application withdrawn;

“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development.

“Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.” (Calgary Herald)


“… the current influx of outside protesters who are pursuing their own policy goals has put a damper on the exchange of opinions inside the community. Instead, she said even the elders are afraid to voice their concerns.

“I want the world to know what’s been happening to us. We are being bullied, it’s so shameful, so hurtful. We are being humiliated.” (Globe and Mail)

This is a Canadian Crisis!

So many parties are using the Frontier and Wet’suwet’en events to disrespectfully serve their own self interests. There is so much ignorance on all sides. Passionate naivety and determined polarity are not intelligence.


From my negotiation and dispute resolution practice, I urge us all to;

Back off and let those directly affected have their space.

Respect one another.

Listen deeply beyond the positions and declarations to hear the hopes, fears, dreams and much more.

Break these challenges into manageable pieces.

Understand that conflict is a great opportunity to learn, innovate and move forward together.

Nobody Gets to be Right; let go of certainty.

Encourage Critical Thinking

Dream together.

This is nothing new. Here is an excerpt from my 2018 LinkedIn article: Here is an Opportunity to Resolve our Pipeline Conflict

“Yesterday, in a negotiation with a natural resource executive, I was told that he has been trying to raise significant (several hundred million $) capital investment for his resource extraction proposal. Whether he is pitching in New York, London, Australia or Canada, he is questioned about Canada’s reputation as a place that things never get done.

I have written on conflict resolution and collaboration all my career. I am about to publish my seventh book on collaboration and leadership.

I look for opportunities to create great value from conflict. Our nation is engaged in the heated pipeline debate. This is the opportunity. When parties are so angry and frustrated, they are getting ready to negotiate more effectively. While they are engaged, they are engaged. This is the gift of conflict. Step 3 of my 10 Essential Steps to Collaboration is Embrace Conflict.

We are not is a dualistic/ right-wrong world. Today, we are faced with increasing complexity, polarization and isolation. We live in filter bubbles of those that agree with our own perspectives.

So, now that we are engaged, enraged and certain we are right, where is the opportunity?

Always go to our shared values (inclusion, environmental protection, economic development, innovation, integrity…), the vision for our shared future (sustainable, healthy, resilient, green communities where people have work…) and listen for what is heard but may not be at the current centre of the conflict.”

In two years since that article, what has changed? We have suffered, polarized and become a nation not to be invested in.

The Challenge:

Now that millions of Canadians are angry, frustrated, and seeking better leadership, I strongly encourage us to take this as our opportunity to lead the world again.

As stated by Teck Resources CEO Don Lindsay, “The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development.

“Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”

We cannot separate energy, climate change, environmental protection, economic development and social good. They are one thing. Governments alone cannot “reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development.” Canadians will.

Let’s answer this critical question now.

To meet this challenge, we must collaborate.

Why Collaborate:

To build a bigger and stronger movement for change.

To find the collective wisdom of the diversity of perspectives around an issue.

To nurture our common humanity.

To embrace and work with the complexity of a situation.

To ensure that you have the necessary skills and capacity to implement solutions and visions.

Because the future must include all of us; with respect for the environment, community and business.

Create Shared Value:

Canada can change our polarized, divisive and damaging conversations to explorations of how to lead the world in Creating Shared Value!

Business that pushes its own agenda is not good business.

Collaboration is a conscious culture of inclusion, respect, continuous improvement, learning, insight, innovation and leadership.

Creating Shared Value puts the environment first and is lead by the interests of the community.

Collaboration that Creates Shared Value, creates profit.

There is a big push from communities, companies and investors to enhance CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG (Environment, Safety and Governance). These are limited in their potential.

Here is a slide from a 2016 presentation that I, along with CSV Midstream, did at the Centre for Corporate Sustainability at Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary.

The Opportunity:

This is our time! We can now shift our enraged, engaged and frustrated minds to coming together, indigenous equality, to collaboration, to innovation, to new business paradigms where environment and community are what informs the best organizations to create the best outcomes for their shareholders, stakeholders, communities and the environment. What if the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Teck and thousands of others engaged within and then positively influenced their futures.

Those of us that are brave to let go of our positions and our self-righteous indignation, come together. Let’s talk.

Let’s form circles to explore the issues, the interests, the barriers, the dreams and the new paradigm in every community, every organization and every governing body. Let’s commit together that after meeting every month each circle will provide their wisdom and recommendations to other circles.

These are circles within circles. This is not a hierarchy directed from governments. Governments will be informed by our dialogues, revelations and new pathways.

We will create a new conversation and way of communicating together. There will be no “directors”. We will use neutral facilitators, neutral third parties and experts. We will form a new movement to serve our future far more powerfully than anything so far. This is the new respectful, innovative democracy. This new expression of collaborative wisdom will inform and encourage our future leaders. Each community, region, province/ territory and nationally will decide for themselves what serves them best.

This will be a cultural shift. This will take time. These circles evolve and build. They are ongoing. This will become the foundation of a new democratic expression.

Let’s change Canada! No more driving people apart and money away. We will be the inuksuk for the world in five years on how to thrive in a sustainable, supportive and respectful nation.

Will you lead in your home, community, organization…? What do you need to start?

Here is my approach from Break Through to Yes: Unlocking the Possible within a Culture of Collaboration;

Reach out to me. I will help. I will send you my eBook; Better by Design at no charge. Yes, this is important to me.

“When it comes to the often-daunting challenge of collaboration, most leaders wish there was a handy guide available to help walk them through uncharted territory. Thankfully, David Savage has now produced just such a resource. His new book, Better by Design: Your Best Collaboration Guide., should be part of every leaders’ toolkit. David Savage has produced a practical guide that promises to simplify the process of collaboration and enhance the outcomes of trusting relationships.” — David Mitchell, past CEO of the Canadian Public Policy Forum

Prologue to Better by Design;

“I’ve been asked many times, why have I done this series.  Why have I written seven Break Through to Yes books (print, eBook and Audio)?  Why is collaboration so important?

I’ll tell you why.  We need it.  I need it.  Our future needs it.  Business is forced into silos and must give up to an open and agile system that better suits today’s world and our shared future.  We must create shared value.  We must think critically. The costs of command and control leadership are getting higher.

During my 42-year career in business, I’ve held titles including director, president, and chief operating officer.  I have seen many and repeated failures, sometimes with the cost of billions.  These failures affect organizations and their capital projects and operations.  When a company starts making mistakes, tries to force its agenda on others, or conflicts with its own stakeholders, the consequences are significant.  People revolt, and profit margins are destroyed.  Projects get delayed in regulatory and community review for extended lengths of time.  Employees simply don’t give their best because they do not trust the systems they work in especially when they have little influence in the processes or programs in which they are involved.

The cost to organizations can be both internal and external disengagement, rejection by regulatory bodies and governments, rejection by impacted communities, and damage to the environment.  Add to that a wide range of negative human impacts including everything from depression, conflict, suicide, marital breakdown and career paralysis to the loss of intelligence and vision of the brightest people in your business, simply because they mentally and spiritually check out when they come to work.

All this means lost productivity, lost opportunities to grow and prosper, and distracted leaders and workers who no longer feel able to do good work.  Leaders and organizations however can gain a strategic advantage by avoiding all this energy and revenue-zapping negativity simply by working together to build a culture of collaboration.

The soul killing command and control, also, damages families. What if you mattered? What if we mattered. And it was more valuable to explore together than be seen to be right.”

With hope,

David B. Savage

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