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Justin Trudeau’s Leadership, his SoapBox and Startup Thinking

Before he became Canada’s newest prime minister, Justin Trudeau was gathering ideas from the public on his very own SoapBox.

Two years ago, we welcomed Justin to our then-home at the Ryerson DMZ to publicly launch a SoapBox for what would turn out to be his very successful Liberal Party leadership campaign.

The SoapBox opened his campaign up to ideas submitted from the public on making positive changes on how the Canadian government works.

And that idea — of openness to suggestions from previously neglected sources — continued on his general election campaign, as seen in a platform promise to use digital tools to give Canadians greater say in how their government makes decisions.

That emphasis — of abandoning the traditional top-down, centralized way of coming up with ideas and making decisions — was one of the signature features of Justin Trudeau’s successful run for prime minister.

And this thinking about decisions and new ideas makes his campaign similar to what makes fast-moving startups so effective.

Unlike bigger, traditionally run organizations, startups operate quick and nimbly, growing and scaling with ease, thanks to one key rule: ideas matter, where they come from doesn’t.

This openness breaks down the antiquated barriers often seen in large organizations, where layers of bureaucracy and “that’s not how things are done here” responses can be unfortunately common.

Decentralizing all this — getting the locus of idea generation out of executive offices and down to frontline employees, or, in Justin Trudeau’s case, to passionate citizens at large — becomes in the current climate a very powerful act: taking what was once entirely top-down and making it two-way.

And it’s an act that more and more large companies are taking by launching employee idea platforms and restructuring their decision-making machine to be more flexible and receptive to outside sources.

By being receptive to new ideas, they’re becoming more future-ready.

People are increasingly asking leaders to better listen to what they have to say. In politics or in business, this is becoming the new normal — the way things are done.

Those who pay attention to this change will be successful.

Just like Justin.

Harness the power of employee ideas.