Twelve Canada fostering collaborative spirit of innovation

September 11

By Sean Meyer


There are many people creating dynamic change in the world, but sometimes they need support in achieving those goals, a reality that got Zach Anderson thinking about how to best support that effort.

Twelve Canada was launched Sept. 15, 2016 by Zach, Dr. Marc Langlois and Adam Fearnell.

Zach, who serves as executive director, said the goal of the organization is to provide support for individuals and teams leading social change.

“In many ways, we wanted an entry point to influence and build the capacity of teams and individuals,” he said. “People are coming to us to strengthen their ability to make social change — to interact more honestly with the world they’re trying to change. At the root of it is strong data, learning, planning and acting, based on what is being said by the people they are trying to make the change for.”

Marc Langlois, director of the Academy 12 program — which works with participants to develop evaluative and leadership change skills applicable in everyday work life — said he and his colleagues believe on “hands-on experiences” when it comes to the learning that goes into both personal and professional development.

The teams Twelve Canada works with, Marc said, need to learn how to work together so they can “absolutely see the gifts” each one of them has and can be deployed in creating greater impact.

“You can’t work with the teams unless you work with the individuals. In order to work with the individual, you have to bring personal and professional development together,” Marc said. “You can follow someone else’s idea of what you should do or create your own. Our current number one resource right now is volunteer support. Our number one asset, we think, is the experience we’ve earned.”

Zach said he believes one of the most basic and important skills in the work of Twelve Canada is facilitation.

Marc agreed, the complexity of the things people are trying to do — particularly within their space at Innovation Works —move quickly, so they have to hold on to, and continue to build relationships.

“It’s about learning critical thinking skills. It’s not putting evaluators up on a pedestal. It’s about helping teams of people trying to do things in a complex environment, think on their feet,” he said. “You don’t go in and do it, you facilitate critical thinking amongst the mass. They know where they want to go. We know some of that stuff . . . but we facilitate them asking their own questions.”

Zach said Twelve Canada exists “in the space of fun and seriousness,” they have fun with what they do, but they take the work seriously.

“There are some serious partnerships here. We have clients here, we have partners here, friends, volunteers, who are very serious, important relationships,” he said. “Marc has talked about volunteers as our biggest asset and without this building we don’t necessarily have that.”

For Marc, they may not know the values of everyone in the building, but he is quick to add the co-tenants tend to share “a general purpose” to build a community that’s more compassionate, equitable and vibrant.

He is quick to caution, however, that being an engaged entrepreneur sometimes means people need to stay on task.

“You can get sucked into meetings and networks. You have to stay on your game,” he said. “You need a network that cares and supports you, but at the same time, it takes time. I have friends, colleagues here I didn’t have before. It’s been stimulating for sure.”

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To spend your time around people just like Zach and his team, consider joining us at Innovation Works!