On my radar this week

Alain Giguère

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Quebecers and alcohol consumption

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 05-30-17 at 2:49 p.m.

A recent study conducted by CROP on behalf of Éduc’alcool revealed that Quebecers’ average alcohol consumption has declined over the past 5 years.

Click on these links for more details:

Click here for the article in La Presse

Click here for the article in Le Soleil

Click here for the article in Le journal de Montréal

Click here for the video excerpt from TVA Nouvelles

Click here for the article in Montreal Gazette

Innovation—34% of Canadians love it; 22% demonize it! (And the mechanical doll from Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann)

Categories: On my radar this week

Posted on 05-29-17 at 4:50 p.m.

Innovation: a deep social schism in reaction to the pace of change

This post is a natural progression from last week's, on creativity. Whereas the latter alluded to C2 Montréal, a major celebration of commercial creativity, this post examines our attitude to innovation (artificial intelligence being a notable feature of C2).

Innovation fuels the economy. Its pace-and its spread-continues to accelerate. Many consumers see innovation as a fantastic playground, especially the "Innovators" and "Early Adopters," who are keen to be the first to take advantage of the latest innovations on the market. Here, I am using terminology popularized in the 1960s by Everett Rogers' diffusion of innovation model: from the Innovators to the Early Majority, to the most recalcitrant, the Laggards. Several survey questions must be used to reproduce his initial model, but when we need a quick estimate with an acceptable degree of accuracy, agreement with the following statement has proven quite effective: "Typically, I am the first person I know to try a new product or service." Despite the seeming ingenuousness of this question, our analyses indicate that it sufficiently predicts attitudes to innovation in many areas of life.

Innovation: 34% Enthusiasts, 44% Cautious, 22% Detractors!

The people in agreement with this statement, whether totally or somewhat, are a very homogeneous group. We find them among younger individuals, men, people in higher-income brackets, professionals, residents of large cities and especially in Ontario. By contrast, the most recalcitrant display the opposite profile: older, women, low income, etc.

In fact, our findings can be grouped into three categories, indicating a deep social schism in reaction to the pace of change in our lives today.


The first category comprises people in agreement with the statement, the "Enthusiasts" (34%), who unquestionably play a leadership role in the diffusion of innovation. (In the Rogers model, they correspond to the total of Innovators, Early Adopters and Early Majority.) Next come the "Cautious" (44%), who "somewhat disagree" and who display more wary attitudes. Before they get onboard, they are waiting for innovations to prove themselves.

The final 22% are "Detractors," individuals who find the frenetic pace of change threatening.

Note that the percentages are relatively consistent throughout the Canadian provinces.

Leverage for personal transformation or a threat of social exclusion?

An impressive cocktail of values and hot buttons influences the adoption or rejection of innovation.

Among Enthusiasts, we find a desire to transform one's life, make discoveries, express one's personal potential and creativity, a desire to change the world, but also a desire for status experiences, fun, to connect with others, etc. Depending on the areas affected by innovation, these underlying motivations will be activated to a greater or lesser degree.

Fundamentally, the idea of doing everything differently- listening to music differently, communicating differently, exercising differently-in order to stimulate one's creativity, express one's potential, play and have fun, undoubtedly constitutes the primary motivation underlying the enthusiasm for innovations and their adoption.

Conversely, the Cautious (who somewhat disagree with the statement) feel the world is moving too fast, that they can't adapt to or keep up with all the new demands. They want things to slow down. They remain wary of what they perceive as a flood of change, without necessarily denying its merits.

Finally, the Detractors (22%) see only evil! For them, innovation is a symbol, no matter what its utility. They see it as a cause of social exclusion: every innovation makes the world more complex, creating unemployment and leaving people behind. For them, innovation and technological change are the harbingers of immanent social apocalypse (many of them have lost their jobs to automation).


Opportunity, but also challenges

Change the world! That is what innovation promises to do. Changing the world for people on a personal level means giving them more control by transforming their daily lives, by making even the smallest quotidian tasks fun, more efficient, etc. Changing the world on a societal level means helping people connect to each other better, helping to mitigate our ecological problems, finding unexpected solutions to important issues, etc.

However, innovation too often leads to job loss and exclusion. Our society and institutions must find ways to counteract this collateral damage. Otherwise, the next wave of automation and artificial intelligence is bound to do a great deal of harm!

Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach

Innovation and progress have long been a source of fascination. Here is a gem, the ultimate chauvinist innovation fantasy-a female robot!-from the Tales of Hoffman (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), the 1881 opera by Jacques Offenbach. Inventing a female robot, a mechanical doll, to fulfil every male desire with docility, was a 19th century fantasy-as if women in this period weren't subjugated enough! There is a slight suggestion of morality in this story: the mechanical doll revolts and breaks down completely in response to male demands!

Jacques Offenbach - Les contes d'Hoffmann: Neil Shicoff, Bryn Terfel, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Robert Carsen, Opéra de Paris, 2004, TDK.

Legalization of marijuana – Opinion of Canadians and Quebecers

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 05-29-17 at 3:07 p.m.

Following the proposed bill to legalize marijuana in Canada, Radio-Canada wished to sound out Canadians and Quebecers regarding this subject. Our results reveal that while Canadians are divided on the matter, Quebecers oppose the legislation proposed by the Trudeau government.

For more details, please read our report and some of the articles written on the subject (French only):

Click here for the full report

Click here for the article published on Radio-Canada.ca

Click here for the video posted by Radio-Canada

Click here for the article published on Le Devoir

Click here for the article published on Radio-Canada.ca - Toronto:

The creative class: 22% of the country’s population! (and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner)

Categories: On my radar this week

Posted on 05-15-17 at 1:57 p.m.

Creativity as a form of personal expression

On the eve of next week's C2 Montréal, the immersive conclave combining commerce and creativity at Arsenal, I wanted to explore the expression of creativity in our country. There are several ways to measure creativity in a society. Richard Florida became famous in the early 2000s for pointing out the enormous economic value of the employees working in the companies that he classified as "creative" (The Rise of the Creative Class, Basic Books, 2002). Another measure is the number of patents filed, also a good indicator of a society's vitality, creativity and innovation.

But one can also measure a lesser-known phenomenon, one that I like to call the "need to create." Even though many people work in so-called creative companies, they don't all play creative roles (we wouldn't want bookkeepers in ad agencies to get too creative with their accounting, after all!). Of course, many do have tailor-made "creative" jobs that capitalize on their need to create.

The genius inventor has always been a fixture in society. He responds to "the need creates the organ" imperative by finding a creative solution to a specific problem (e.g., Joseph-Armand Bombardier and his invention of the snowmobile when he couldn't get help for his sick child because of snow-blocked roads).

In today's world, where many people are highly motivated by a need for self-expression, the need to create, to feel creative in one's daily activities no matter how trivial, has become inescapable and unstoppable (at work and at play), to the point where people will quit their jobs if they are unable to express their creativity.

One very simple statement in our surveys has allowed us to identify these individuals: "Throughout my various daily activities, it is very important for me to feel creative."

The need to express one's creativity: 22% of the population (perfectly equivalent throughout the country)

To use the expression coined by Richard Florida, I would consider people who "totally agree" with this statement to belong to our "creative class" because they need to be creative on a full time basis! No matter what type of work they do, these "creatives" represent an incredible force that companies, organisations and society need to find a way to capitalize on.

True, much of this creativity will find expression in recreational activities and hobbies, but we certainly have an opportunity to use it to create value in our society (no matter how you define it).

Younger age groups (those under 35 years of age) have the highest percentages of creative people. We know that many of the greatest artists, inventors and scientists have done their best work before their thirties.

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that creativity declines with age! It's as if, when people get older, they take comfort in the known, the predictable, the easily classifiable. Whereas younger people are excited by the unknown and want to reinvent the world!

Creativity is nourished by difference, by others, by novelty

Given the tremendous openness in the personal-values profile of the creative class, companies should be able to optimize the creativity in their organisations.


Those belonging to the creative class are very open to social diversity and continuously seek close and meaningful interactions with the people around them (whether they are well known or not). They want to discover other people, to be inspired by them, to feed on difference, to create a new world based on a "cultural melting pot." Difference and the stimulation arising from the human contact and discoveries associated with it seems to be one of the basic nutrients essential to creativity.

Openness to change also plays an essential role. Even when an organisation's business model is being disrupted, the novelty and new paradigms introduced by change become opportunities for different thinking and creativity.

The creative class has a strong desire for self-improvement. These people are aware of their potential and want to realize it at all costs. They have an irrepressible desire to express themselves, and creativity, whether they initiate or contribute to a creative project, is an ideal vehicle.

The "non-creatives" are also very interesting. They do not believe in the virtues of change; they only see the negatives! They decode what they see, or "discover," using ideas from the past. For them, creativity threatens the precious stability of their world order!


The opportunities for companies and organisations

We must harness this vitality. Give it its rightful place within the organization. Allow it to express itself, to emerge. Workplaces should be designed to encourage meetings and exchanges. Diversity should be promoted. Employees should be encouraged to express at work the same creativity they bring to their leisure activities. Organize meetings that bring people with different skill sets together to discuss creative ways of tackling problems. Bring together the most creative people from various backgrounds. Let them encourage other, less creative people who are still open to creativity, etc.

In this context, it is understandable that many "creative" companies in the United States are opposed to President Trump's immigration policies!

Architecture and design are crucial: open spaces, encouraging meetings and discussion, artwork, employee creations, common spaces, etc.

Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

A wonderful example of creativity colliding with tradition in society is this clip from Wagner's opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. A guild of artisans and mastersingers have, over the years, developed extremely rigid rules for their song contests. When one of their members introduces a newcomer with innovative and creative musical ideas, they reject him out of hand (although he triumphs at the end of the opera) ... Sublime!

Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg / Heppner, Mattila, Morris, Pape, Allen, Polenzani, Levine, The Metropolitan Opera, New York, 2005, Deutsche Grammophon.

21% of Canadians believe it’s okay to disobey laws they think are stupid! (And Siegfried by Richard Wagner)

Categories: On my radar this week

Posted on 05-01-17 at 1:51 p.m.

Fantasies of civil disobedience!

One in every five Canadians indulges in this kind of thinking. What's more, the numbers have been on a continuous uptick for the last 13 years! It's as if these individuals see a progressively fraying "social contract," which legitimizes disobeying laws and contravening the basic rules of civil society. However, we are not suggesting that this indicates a systematic path to anarchy. These citizens don't spend their time breaking the law. But this fantasy is undoubtedly an expression of their frustration with what they believe life has in store for them.

It is interesting to note that we find little significant variation on a regional level. This "defiance" is found in similar proportions from coast to coast, with the exception of Québec, where the proportion of people in agreement with this notion, at 25%, is significantly higher.

Specifically, we asked people in a survey representative of the entire adult Canadian population (18+ years of age) whether they agreed with the following statement: "When you think a law is stupid, it's OK not to obey it."

To this same question in 2004, 12% of Canadians agreed. Since then, we've witnessed a nearly 10-point rise (9%). People are getting bolder and bolder!

Young people and harsh socio-economic conditions

The demographic and socio-economic profile of these "potential lawbreakers" provides some context. We find a clear over-representation of this attitude among young people (under 35), the lowest-income earners in society, as well as among labourers and blue-collar workers. We can easily imagine how financial pressures lead these groups to feel this way.


But what we find most troubling about these results is the rise since 2004. If deteriorating socio-economic conditions are stoking this defiance, it's not all that surprising that, in our post-2008 world, the fantasy of civil disobedience on the rise.

Repeatedly, our research results have clearly indicated that the Great Recession of 2008 was unlike recessions before it. In the past, people expected the economy to recover after a recession. After the Great Recession, Canadians saw the world as infinitely more uncertain, complex and risky, and became convinced that this new world order was here to stay.

It is in this context that we need to interpret this fantasy of civil disobedience. People have the impression that they are facing an increasingly difficult world and that society simply isn't there for them. Hence, for them, the social contract is broken.

Feeling excluded

When we analyze the personal values and mentalities of these potential lawbreakers, what motivates this kind of attitude becomes even clearer.

Fundamentally, these people feel excluded from society. They are unable to find a place, goals or meaning there. They feel powerless, as if they have no control over their lives. They feel left behind, that no one gives a damn about them. Therefore, if society has abandoned them, why should they fulfill their societal obligations? More proof of a broken social contract.

They are also very cynical about the establishment, the business and political elites. They think everyone is lying to them. They trust no one. They are very pessimistic about today's world. The youngest have a jaundiced impression of the world left to them by earlier generations. In this kind of environment, disobedience becomes a legitimate way to adapt to today's society.


A social project

I can almost hear my marketing colleagues concluding that the answer is more rebellious, irreverent and politically incorrect brand marketing platforms. Indeed, for certain target groups, such a strategy when properly executed will definitely pay off.

But the issue here goes beyond marketing opportunities. Our findings indicate the way that our society and our governments have been "managing" this exclusion. To curb it, our institutions and companies, via their social engagement, need to put their resources into programs that promote inclusivity, mutual aid and social integration.

The Ontario government is launching a pilot project in a few municipalities that will provide a basic minimum income to try supporting vulnerable workers and giving people the security and opportunity they need to achieve their potential. This could help them retrain or go back to school. Other similar initiatives should be put in place to halt the rise in fantasies of civil disobedience-and even stop them from becoming reality!

The Talented Mr. Robot: The Impact of Automation on Canada's Workforce, a recent report by the Brookfield Institute at Toronto's Ryerson University, concludes that nearly 42% of the Canadian labour force is at high risk of being affected by automation in the next 10-20 years!

If this scenario materializes, even minimally, we, as a society, will need a lot of creativity to fight the exclusion and civil disobedience it could engender (though, we hope, not anything as extreme as the world of "Mad Max"!).

Richard Wagner's Siegfried

Viewed from a more philosophical perspective, all eras undergo movements of civil disobedience. Youth tend to be critical of the preceding generation's regime and want to be rid of it, to take their rightful place. In their analyses of primitive societies, anthropologists talk about "symbolic castration," symbolic patricide-the father being the author of the laws and rules.

This is precisely the theme of the third act of Siegfried, the third opera in Wagner's four-part Ring cycle (The Ring of the Nibelung). Siegfried meets his grandfather, Wotan, the supreme god, who carries a spear engraved with the laws and rules governing the world. Wotan protects access to his daughter (Siegfried's aunt), who sleeps within a ring of fire. Siegfried breaks the spear, defeats Wotan (castration) and makes off with his aunt! When Wagner created this work in 1876, Freud's psychoanalytical texts had yet to be written!

The extract here is the overture to the third act, a magnificent orchestral foreshadowing of the drama to come (the castration, the aunt, everything!).

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Complete Ring Cycle (James Levine, Metropolitan Opera), Siegfried Jerusalem, Hildegard Behrens, James Morris, Brian Large (Director), Deutsche Grammophon, New York, 2002.