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DPG Innovation Challenge: Promoting innovation among Developing Professionals

July 20, 2021

In June 2021, the DPG Innovation Challenge tasked participants with conceptualizing a business idea or prototype that promotes social value

Since last year’s announcement of Dr. Marshall Davert becoming Stantec’s chief innovation officer (CIO) and the establishment of our Innovation Office, there has been a clear corporate commitment towards encouraging innovation and innovative thinking across the Company.

To align with these efforts, the Developing Professionals Group (DPG) launched their own Innovation Competition in June 2021. This event welcomed anyone across Stantec to harness their creative thinking while conceptualizing an innovative business idea or prototype that promotes social value in a way that is implementable, affordable, and good for both clients and business.

Involvement across the globe

More than 60 participants from across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific signed up to meet the challenge. They were then placed into teams that combined participants from different business lines and functional services teams, creating new connections and encouraging collaboration to come up with an innovative idea. In addition to the networking opportunity this presented, the participants had access to a range of tools that facilitated ideation and business development skills. They were also tasked with a challenge within the challenge—to be mindful of team dynamics so they could best play to each other’s strengths and allow the creativity to flow from the meeting of their diverse experiences.

The 11 teams had 3 weeks of deliberation time to develop their ideas which was supplemented by dedicated coaching support from leaders across Stantec. Upon submitting their ideas, teams were scored based on a grading scale that looked at innovativeness, social impact, technical feasibility, scalability, and economic viability​. From there, the top five teams moved on to the next round where they were given additional time and coaching to further develop their ideas and ultimately pitch to the Innovation Competition Judges. Marshall Davert, CIO and Nancy Macdonald, vice president of Urban Places, would select the winner based on the same criteria as the first round, also considering idea delivery.

Community Connections Overcoming Water Devastation

In the end, the winning idea selected was ‘Community Connections Overcoming Water Devastation.’ The team’s ambition to help safeguard vulnerable communities against destruction caused by rising sea levels and severe weather conditions captivated the judges who saw great alignment between this and competencies we already have at Stantec. Their proposal is to create a suite of digital flood management services with a data collection and analytics platform that integrates with locally available flood sensor technologies and crowdsourced data. This and an online education portal for communities to receive flood management education and other toolkits would help address the planning, reaction to, and recovery from these weather conditions. The idea is now with the Stantec Innovation Office and discussions are underway to keep the idea moving.

Additional idea follow-up

The judges were enthusiastic about two other final round ideas and would also like to move these ideas forward. The first was titled ‘Water Equity’ and spoke to how and where to prioritize the implementation of water meters to better balance the cost of water across communities. The second was called ‘Transforming Abandoned Buildings to Fill the Middle Housing Gap,’ and proposed developing a screening tool to identify viable buildings for middle housing brownfield development.

Another idea, ‘Stantec People Power,’ was also well received and will be shared with HR leadership for consideration. Here, the team proposed to leverage our internal diversity by having people self-identify their diversity dimensions in our internal marketing database so that, when it is fitting, these individuals can be called on for consultation or program implementation.

Connecting with leadership is a core pillar of the DPG, so having the support of the C-suite was influential to the success of this event and paves the way for future events and the innovation pipeline. Marshall Davert stated he is “very happy to have participated in this event and [I] am impressed with the great ideas from each of the teams. I believe that Developing Professionals can play a significant role towards our corporate strategy, specifically around innovation, and this event and the concepts that resulted from it were an excellent example of that.”

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