Profile
 

Michael has spent the last two decades leading creative teams, building learning communities, starting and running his own design businesses, and founding entrepreneurial ventures. Across all of these activities Michael has broken new ground, instigating and leading many successful collaborations. He is a leader who’s trajectory in the design thinking and innovation fields has aimed at making both more rigorous and more accessible.

In almost all of Michael’s businesses, design and learning have been constantly and consistently linked. As the lead partner of Torch Partnership he initiated a deep engagement with OCAD University (OCADU). He helped to found the university’s Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab), a center for research and development in design, innovation and strategic foresight, and he sponsored and curated a long running lecture series on innovation for sLab at OCADU.

Michael also started two entrepreneurial learning businesses, Moso and UNFINISHED, which developed online learning programs, with the goal of developing a scalable model for bringing design and innovation knowledge and methods into enterprise. His Unfinished Business School product was adopted as part of UnitedHealth Group’s core innovation curriculum for managers and has been completed by over 200 UHG employees. He was the chief catalyst of Unfinished Business, an initiative for applying open source ideas and methods to the practices of business management and design. Michael also invented Innovation Parkour, a scalable framework for training people in large organizations to be more   innovative.

Michael is a founding member of Overlap, a unique network of front-line innovation practitioners. Under his stewardship Overlap has, for over a decade, been one of the most important peer learning communities for those working at the intersections of design, business and technology.

PROFESSIONAL


CEO, Torch Partnership, 2006-present


Founded Torch as an innovation consulting firm to provide strategy consulting and organization innovation and learning programs to large enterprise clients and organizations.


Achievements
Worked as a trusted strategic partner to Thomson Corporation, The Woodbridge Company, OCADU, UnitedHealth Group, Fidelity Investments and others.
Created the strategy for a new institute at OCADU, Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab).
Created, funded and curated innovation lecture series at Strategic Innovation Lab/OCADU.


Responsibilities
I established the company’s vision, led strategic engagements and business development.
I have built and led cross-functional teams in my own firm and within client organizations.

 

Chief Product Officer, SMLR, 2013-2014


Co-founded SMLR to adapt a military grade image data collection software platform to a consumer mobile application, able to map mobile phone image data to a real-time 3D map of the world.


Achievements
Paired an existing engineering team with a new product development team to create and bring to the Apple app store a mobile app product called Flux.
Led fundraising efforts in New York, Toronto and Silicon Valley.
Created a business model for monetizing a virtual outdoor advertising platform and filed several patent applications for a system for placing digital media in virtual 3D space.


Responsibilities
As Chief Product Officer I set a product vision that led us from an extremely technical military application of technology to a compelling consumer engagement model.
I was responsible for product vision, fundraising, investor and client relations.

 

CEO, UNFINISHED, 2011-2013


Founded UNFINISHED to create and market online learning programs to teach innovation and design methods to entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.


Achievements
Sold program to North America’s largest health care company, UnitedHeath Group.
Accepted as a MaRS mentored company.
Led partnership negotiations with Pearson & McGraw Hill Education.


Responsibilities
As CEO & Chief learning architect I worked with industry experts, multimedia production designers and technologists, to create digital learning programs.
I was responsible for product vision, partnerships and client relations.


CEO, Moso, 2010-2011


Founded Moso as an online innovation community and marketplace for software tools to support innovation in enterprise.


Achievements
Successfully raised $250K in seed funding from investors in Europe & the United States.
Built and released software as a service (SaaS) social platform for innovation communities.
Built and beta tested online learning product, Unfinished Business School.


Responsibilities
As CEO I built and led a startup team, raised funds and reported to investors.
I designed the business model, financial models and created the product vision for the company.

 

Co-Founder & Creative Director, Aegis, 1999-2006


Founded Aegis as a strategic design firm to serve corporate clients.


Achievements
Won numerous industry design awards for communications and web design projects.


Responsibilities
Led creative teams, developed strategies with clients, managed key client relationships.

EDUCATION

During my graduate education I was both a teaching assistant and a lecturer in philosophy. I developed curricula and taught undergraduate philosophy courses.


My Ph.D. dissertation was an exploration of the history of concepts of objectivity, which aimed to show how ideas of objectivity arise in a particular context and adapt over time to changes in that context. My research spanned epistemology, history and philosophy of science, legal theory, and criminal law.


“Reasonable Men, Battered Women, and Objectivity in the Law of Self-Defense” Ph.D. Dissertation, submitted Nov. 1996, defended Dec.1996


Ph.D. (ABD), Philosophy, University of Toronto, 1991-1996
M.A., Philosophy, University of Toronto, 1990-1991
B.A., Philosophy & Political Science, Earlham College, 1987-1990

 

MEMBERSHIP & AFFILIATIONS

Advisor, Curriculum Committee for the M.Des in Strategic Foresight & Innovation at OCADU
Chief Strategist (advisory role), Strategic Innovation Lab, OCADU
Member, Program Advisory Board at Institute Without Boundaries, George Brown College
Member, Advisory Board of Jane’s Walk
Created Innovation Parkour workshop to train people in fundamentals of Human Centered Design and innovation practice

 

EXPERIENCE

Entrepreneurial experience: work ranging from starting companies, to building professional communities of practice and cross-institutional collaborations has led me to develop state of the art practice in business model design and innovation.


Speaking and presentation: I have spoken about innovation, design thinking and the future of design-based learning at conferences in Toronto, New York, Berlin, San Francisco, as well as educational institutions, Parsons, New School of Social Research, Pacific Northwest College of The Arts, OCADU, Rotman and at TEDIndia.