Skip to content

Dana Clarke: Exploring the evolution of innovative ideas

Through her job at the City of Barrie, Dana Clarke has been labelled as the “Post-It Lady.” The moniker fits as she often walks around doing on-the-spot brainstorming sessions with colleagues before writing the resulting ideas on Post-It Notes.

While that might seem quirky behaviour to some, as someone who was hired as the city’s first innovation analyst, it makes perfect sense. It is also a role she has embraced and built upon over the years.

Growing the Municipal Innovators Community

In fact, Clarke now serves as Chair of the Municipal Innovators Community (MIC), a group that grew out of the city’s Innovate Barrie portfolio. Innovate Barrie joined the city’s HR and IT departments together with the Project Management Office to form a concentrated effort aimed at improving innovation at the city. This effort prompted Clarke and her colleagues to come together around “the discover, facilitation, and recognition of innovation.”

Clarke shared how MIC has grown substantially over the past several years when she sat down with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner at the organization’s 2019 conference in the District of Muskoka.

“I think everyone is on a journey to innovation culture … at any point in time, you can be ahead of the innovation curve or behind it,” Clarke said. “You’re just on one point in your journey. You are going to go up and down and it’s definitely not a straight road.”

What became MIC started with a small, one day conference in Barrie with three panels, a keynote speaker, and a workshop. MIC has grown – 2019 marked the fifth conference – with the Muskoka event being the first time that members journeyed to a region (every other one has been hosted by a city, including Calgary in 2018).

Building a National Commitment to Change

In the video conversation with Gardner, Clarke said the goal is to build a national community of the process for municipal innovation to learn to do things differently.

“We really believe in delivering better outcomes and doing that through any method,” Clarke said.  MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Ashleigh Weeden’s article: Innovation is a four-letter word. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

Related resource materials: