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History Table of Contents
1995 Winter Conference
Winter Conference 1995
The Changing Economy and Knowledge-Based Services:
How Will Canada Succeed?

Opening Remarks

MARY BAETZ, Conference Co-chair

We were approached last summer by Industry Canada to develop and manage a conference on knowledge-based services.

We asked ourselves, "what is this thing called knowledge-based services?"

Around the table we were consultants, producers, venture capitalists, educators and public relations experts and we realized that we were the embodiment of the knowledge-based services field.

We hadn't seen ourselves that way; we hadn't recognized our own commonality, that our organizations and we as individuals were in the business of selling and sharing our knowledge and the related skills.

We explored this area, held brainstorming sessions, read articles and tried to distil the essence of this in a way that fit with the essence of Couchiching to find the issue or issues and present the critical aspects, not to resolve them — just to give people the tools to form their own opinions and to understand the arguments and positions underlying simple-minded sound bites.

We had a second challenge. And that was to present the essence of the Couchiching experience in one day, without the benefit of the warm sun, the cool lake, or the relaxed pace.

Today we will try to give that essence in keynote speeches and panel addresses. We will use, as we do at the lake, moderators to keep the discussion going and rely on you, our delegates, to challenge our speakers and each other, to get at the essential quality of the issues involved in the transition to the knowledge-based economy.

We approach this topic first through the eyes and mind of Sheelagh Whittaker, who will help us understand in greater depth the meaning of this issue and what it requires of us.

Then, we will look at how best to develop Canadian enterprise. Much has been written about partnerships. Government can't afford to fund the development alone, the private sector can't afford to take all the risk. Recently there's been a number of conferences on how to do it, as though we've already decided that such partnerships are the answer.

But, have we investigated the question properly?

Our morning panel will help us understand the questions we should be asking.

After lunch, we'll explore an aspect dear to my own heart: what is the impact of this transition on the people and organizations of Canada?

We will explore the organizational requirements we must meet to succeed.

Lastly, we'll hear about the export aspect from one who hails from the industry that in our estimation represents one way of organizing and operating in the new knowledge-based economy; an industry where people form around projects, coalescing and disbanding as needed, where people bring their skills to bear in vast numbers of small and large enterprises, integrate the newest technology with tried and true techniques to come together to produce products of value here and abroad.

Is the entertainment industry, in fact, the model for us all?

This conference is the result of the work volunteers, supported financially and spiritually by Industry Canada and by the hard-working team from Base Services. My co-chair, Robin Wilson, and I wish to thank them all for their hard work and their good humour.