Cannexus 2018: Daring to Dream

 Feb 14, 2018 2:00 PM



Each January, career and employment professionals from across the country convene in Ottawa for 3 days of professional development, networking and community building. We meet at Cannexus – Canada’s largest career development conference powered by CERIC.


Every year, I am struck at the diversity of sessions offered (more than 400) and by the wide range of thinking that is reflected in the topics chosen for the program, which includes not only workshops but also interactive zones, Ted-Style presentations and social events and challenges to keep us talking and striving to do more together.


It is our industry’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, Super Bowl and We Day all rolled into one.


Daring to Dream


As you know, Challenge Factory is always looking to challenge assumptions and push beyond traditional boundaries. This year, we dared to ask:

How could all the various discussions, learnings and experiences of 1000+ attendees be harnessed for collective learning? What if we could figure out what we all have in common? This is a community of people dedicated to careers, work and employment. What do they believe to be true about the future of work?


We teamed up with our friends at Creative Connection, an amazing team of artists and strategists who break through the restrictions traditional methods of thinking imposes to create works of art that create new potential futures. Together, we crafted a 3-day experiment where we asked people to set aside what they think. Instead, we dared to dream.


New Tools to spark Future of Work Conversations


The results are stunning. Visually, a breathtaking mural emerged, and we are hard at work to translate the artwork into tools that can be used inside of organizations also interested in dreaming about the future of work and what it means for their sector. A new video and conversation guide, along with a supporting facilitator’s course, will be available this spring.


Capturing and Conveying the Magic of 1000 voices


If you were to only look at the mural, you’d miss the magic what really happened at Cannexus. It is always hard to recreate experiences. I hope my observations help give you a sense of what was started at this conference – and what we would like to bring to every corner of this country as every organization, industry, sector and community grapples with the future.


Over the three days of our experiment I saw:


  • A woman standing, in front of the mural, for 20 minutes. She didn’t ask questions or engage with the artists right in front of her. She stood back and watched, completely still. I wondered what went through her mind during that time – and also how long it had been since she (and any of us) had been completely still for 20 minutes, simply reflecting. As she moved away, I noticed tears in her eyes.
  • Indigenous career professionals react to the hopes and dreams expressed by their colleagues by sharing traditional ways of considering the future. I learned about how any decision one makes in their life should be done in the context of what 7 generations back and 7 generations forward would consider honorable and respectful. I am grateful to have been exposed to the deep questions this tradition evokes.
  • Dozens and dozens of people taking pictures and selfies with the mural.
  • Skeptics and idealists alike dreaming together and reflecting on the attitudes and behaviours that emerge when we believe our dream future is possible.

Over the coming weeks and months, you will hear more about the tools and learnings that came from this experience. For now, I want to encourage you to be in touch if you want to animate your workplace, industry or community. There is much to learn from our collective views about the future of work – and we have the winning recipe for how to ignite groups, large and small, to dream big about their futures.


Ready to learn more?


Click here to learn more about our Future-focused research projects

Click here to learn about our new Future of Work Leadership Lab

Click here to take the Future of Work Quick Assessment



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