Canada’s general standard of living ranks among the very top of countries around the world. Increasingly, however, we are challenged by a well-documented decline in our capacity to leverage our knowledge and abilities to produce new goods and services. The OECD has reported how countries more focused on innovation are passing Canada in such key measures as income per capita, social programs and productivity.

The Conference Board defines innovation as “a process through which economic or social value is extracted from knowledge… to produce new or improved products, services, processes, strategies, or capabilities.”

Business, labour and the public sector all play key roles in sustaining a culture of innovation that can create and maintain quality jobs, a durable social safety net, world-class education and health care, and a cleaner environment. Our capacity to innovate productively in all sectors will largely determine the future quality of life for all Canadians – young and old – as we face increasing competitive pressures from other nations aspiring to raise their own living standards.

The 2015 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference will examine the role that leaders play in stimulating, driving, managing and diffusing innovation in their organizations and communities. Conference members will experience situations where organizations embrace innovation as a positive and necessary mindset central to future success. They will experience situations where leadership is working or required to move groups forward on unfamiliar ground. They will learn how human capital is key to an innovative society. They will see first-hand how leaders shape outcomes for their organizations and society as a whole.

Throughout the Conference, members will meet with Canadians from all sectors and walks of life who are dedicated to engaging individuals to build organizations and communities where innovation is understood to be a pre-requisite to current and future prosperity. The links between communities, the national perspective and Canada’s place in the global community will underpin this examination.