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Oxford Properties Retail Group – Square One & Yorkdale Properties
“Innovate or Dinosaur”: A Collaborative Innovation Game

Location: Toronto and Mississauga ON, Canada
Project Owner: Elena Price, Oxford; Square One and Claire Santamaria, Oxford; Yorkdale
Facilitators: Tamara Eberle and Shawna Eberle, Traction Strategy


Elena Price
Oxford; Square One


Claire Santamaria
Oxford; Yorkdale


Tamara Eberle
Traction Strategy


Shawna Eberle
Traction Strategy

"Innovate or Dinosaur”: A Collaborative Innovation Game


Oxford Properties Group is a global platform for real estate investment and development with offices around the world and 50 million square feet of property. Square One and Yorkdale Shopping Centre are two of the most profitable and high profile retail centers owned by Oxford Properties in Canada, and with both being in the midst of significant property expansion and development, the expectations for them to ‘lead the pack’ are high.

In the last year, Oxford has issued a challenge to all of their asset classes and sites: “Be better, faster, cheaper.” Needless to say, the pressure mounted on every team to increase performance and output, use resources creatively, and improve quality of service at the same time. The stress set in and people felt tapped out of new ideas for doing better with what they have.

The main challenge for Square One and Yorkdale leadership was helping their teams break out of stuck thinking, get some new perspective, new energy, and innovative ideas. For a team that does a lot of facilitated collaborations already, providing them with a novel and engaging process that would stimulate fresh ideas and re-energize them, was the key process challenge. Another ‘sticky note’ session was not an option.

To help these ideation-weary teams break out of stuck thinking, a game-based process, designed by Traction Strategy and named “Innovate or Dinosaur”, was chosen. This ‘sticky note free’ game “surprised and delighted” the participants. It involved applying creative thinking techniques to real work opportunities and situations to generate new and possible ideas, and critical thinking techniques to help prime the ideas for implementation. A key step in the process was the leadership team empowering the cross-functional participant groups to take ownership of their newly formulated project ideas and bring them to life. This was essential to the group transitioning their ideas out of the workshop room and into their workplace to continue their collaborations and generate excellent, measureable results!

Key Results Achieved

Key results achieved include:

  • 90% of projects received full funding and/or approval within a day to a few weeks of presenting them
  • New renovation strategies created new partnerships, are calculated to have a 100% ROI over 3 years, and divert up to 4000sq/ft of drywall monthly from the landfill
  • 2-months’ time was saved on union negotiations and change management activities
  • More timely and quality delivery of goals including a successful VIP event for a new anchor tenant and up to 12 days saved on project time
  • Increased empowerment and confidence of employees leading to 3 promotions
  • Improved collaboration and team performance that receives kudos for efficiency and professionalism from external parties
  • Boosted morale and a more positive workplace culture such as pride in projects and less tension between team members
  • And, better coffee! 33% saved on costs, 90% reduction in time taken to place orders, more environmentally friendly packaging, and 120 happier people!