Message from Allyson Hewitt, MaRS

We live in a world that is not comfortable with failure.

This is especially true in the social purpose sector, where failure is perceived as a waste of taxpayer or donated dollars, and the impact on potentially vulnerable populations is deemed too high.

Contrast that to how our fastest growing, most impactful companies act. “They have an intense bias to action and a tolerance for risk, expressed through frequent experimentation and relentless product iteration. They hack together products and services, test them, and improve them [1]” while those of us in the social purpose sector struggle to fit what we know our clients/ customers/ end users need into grant applications and reports.

Impact HUB Ottawa has taken a leadership role, along with others like Engineers Without Borders, to challenge this conventional wisdom. They know that without risk-taking, there is no room for innovation and we are destined to continue to achieve sub-optimal impact as we continue to play it safe.

I applaud their intentionality in trying new things, learning from those experiences, sharing the results, and ultimately, determining how to do good better.

It is the only approach that is going to get us where we need to be – and we need patience, understanding, and this kind of leadership to make it happen.

Allyson Hewitt
JW McConnell Senior Fellow in Social Innovation @ MaRS Discovery District