ALEX RYAN

What I am working on at the moment

As VP Systems Innovation at MaRS Discovery District, I am working to drive adoption of innovation in highly regulated industries, such as health care, energy and environment, finance and commerce, and work and learning. As Program Director of MaRS Solutions Lab, I lead a team that anticipates and develops practical solutions to the most complex challenges for future generations of Canadians. The Solutions Lab is currently working to build Canadian innovation lab capacity, co-design smart regulations, transform public procurement and HR systems, improve emotional and social wellbeing for students and teachers, and find employment and careers for opportunity youth.    

Why I wanted to join the Participatory City Global Advisory

I have dedicated my career to advancing systems approaches to some of our most complex global challenges. Participatory City is a really exciting example of applied systems thinking. It taps a latent resource embedded in every community and puts it to work to solve local problems and create local value from the bottom-up. Participatory City creates the conditions for the emergence of positive externalities that build social fabric and strengthen community resilience. A culture of participation leverages our inherent sense of place to help ourselves while helping others. In doing so, we strengthen and enrich our places, our communities, and our lives. What a compelling value proposition!

A little bit about my background

I have experience at innovating in large organizations (between 30,000 to 1 million people) in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. I have worked as a public servant at multiple levels of government. I have consulted with a major international consulting firm and Co-Founded the consulting agency Synthetikos Inc. I Co-Founded the first provincial innovation lab in Canada, Alberta CoLab. I am the Co-Founder of the Systemic Design Research Network, which hosts the international Relating Systems Thinking and Design symposia. I am an Executive in Residence at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto, where I created a new course Designing in a Whitewater World. My PhD thesis advanced a multidisciplinary approach to complex systems design.