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Rebuilding the Economy with John Ruffolo & Dr. Chitra Anand

by Rachel Hammermueller, Content Writer

Yesterday, TribalScale’s CEO and Co-Founder Sheetal Jaitly spoke with two industry professionals, John Ruffolo and Dr. Chitra Anand. John is the Founder of OMERS Ventures and the Canadian Innovation Council, a non-profit organization helping high growth Canadian tech firms scale up globally, and promote and collaborate with policy leaders to optimize the growth of Canada’s innovation-based sector. Chitra, who completed her PhD the day before the podcast, is the author of The Green House Approach and Advisor to High Growth Tech Companies, with a resume featuring names like Microsoft and Telus. Sheetal came prepared to talk with Chitra about transforming companies and innovation during a pandemic, and to tap into John’s expertise of what the government should be doing to help struggling businesses as we enter a recession. From just under an hour of audio, I scribbled down five pages of notes, and the key takeaways are so many that it’s difficult to put in blog format, but here’s my attempt:

The entrepreneur focus

John’s advice for policy makers is to focus on the entrepreneur, “the recovery of the economy will be entrepreneur-led. If smaller companies hit the wall fast, this creates an impact of elimination of demand right up the chain. The government needs to encourage them to hold onto their workers, even though EI is a safety net.” Many CEOs have decided to lay off works so they can claim EI, however, a good entrepreneur will only hire back when demand returns to normal, so those laid off workers could possibly not return to work for a long time.

Empowering change agents

Chitra’s transformation philosophy involves something called “adaption theory”, as well as Darwinism — that is, adapting and adjusting using within new business models. In her words, it’s a “process of iteration.” When she worked at Microsoft, they went from software to the cloud through iterative processes, and in that hunger to learn more, they transformed. “Transformation is a series of experiments, and micro-dosing on new things. Great innovation and products comes from a series of tests and learnings. Then you align those learnings with the rest of the world’s perspective.”

We’re past the peak but behind on tech

In John’s best guess, we are past the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada. Ontario’s strong data suggests we should be opening the economy at this point, but it’s critical to control the outbreak of a second wave. “We have not done well in tech during this,” says John. Specifically, “in testing and tracing.” But every Canadian is asking themselves right now, when will everything go back to normal? If you’re a business owner, when the economy is reopening is the most important question. John, who has lived and worked through many economic downturns since entering the tech field in 1992, broke down the government’s plan of a three phase approach to reopening, (which Premier Doug Ford announced and outlined during the filming of our podcast).“In Phase 2, the government needs to turn off benefits to businesses that are re-opening, but subsidize businesses that have capacity restrictions, since these restrictions are government-implemented.” Additionally, as a society, for those vulnerable medically and unable to work from home, we have to work as a society to protect that section of the population as we reopen.

Re-Imagine the workplace

How can we deploy our workforces to come to work and collaborate to cut costs? Chitra suggests a focus on learning. “Skills trainings, workshops, wellness, fitness, all of these are going to be much more important when the workforce comes back.”

How to survive the phased reopening

“It’s likely going to be a five month process, so opening in September and October,” John explains. We’ll embark on a new normal, not the same normal as before. Chitra’s book comes into play in Phase 3, where we begin to rebuild the economy through corporate innovation. “We will be going through a recession in the fall that will last 18–24 months,” says John. “So we need to support local suppliers and businesses, and maintain that problem-solving mindset.”

What else should the government be doing?

John and Chitra both agree the government subsidies happened in the reverse order that they should have. Companies were faced with the decisions to let their workers go since they have that EI safety net. So now they need to support small businesses, and ween off reopening ones from those government benefits. Hear a clip of this topic below:

How do we face the dark & dreary?

So what does this all culminate to? What are the key takeaways on coming out of this period of time?

  • There will be a recession after this for 18–24 months. See it for the opportunity that it is. Focus on what we can control, and use it to make that massive leap forward you’ve been thinking of making for your business;
  • Are you looking to go up the market? Do it during a downturn like this;
  • “Buy on the dip”, think of the classic real-estate quote “I wish I had bought when the market was down”;
  • We will get through to the other side of this. Think about how you can beat your competitors, they are at a stand still during this, too;
  • Markets are moved by fear and greed — use it to your advantage.

Listen to the full podcast and more episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube!

Rachel is the Content Writer here at TribalScale. She works to write alluring content that reflects the focus, goals, and values of our workplace. When she’s not writing about tech or culture, she often has her nose in a book, eating tacos, or re-watching British TV shows.

TribalScale is a global innovation firm that helps enterprises adapt and thrive in the digital era. We transform teams and processes, build best-in-class digital products, and create disruptive startups. Learn more about us on our website. Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook!



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