Giant Rooster Helps Unite Guelph-Wellington for Solutions to ‘Wicked’ Problems

Giant Rooster Helps Unite Guelph-Wellington for Solutions to ‘Wicked’ Problems

By Zoey Ross

If you’ve lived in Guelph for a while you've probably driven by Bernardi Precast on Elizabeth Street. The front entrance is adorned with concrete statues of Greek goddesses, ornate fountains - and until recently - a 10-foot-tall,painted rooster. 

If you’re wondering where that rooster disappeared to this summer, the answer is that he’s taking a vacation in Puslinch at the farm of Dr. Jeff Wilson on the Nassagaweya-Puslinch Town Line. 

Wilson is President of Novometrix Research Inc, a global consulting firm that links government, business, academia, non-governmental organizations and the public to help solve complex problems that have stymied not only global networks - but our own community of Guelph Wellington as well - for decades. 

In a town with an abundance of art influences including installation art and sculpture like Carl Skelton’s Begging Bear on Gordon St., why choose the rooster so often associated with luck, Portugal, agriculture and the Chinese Zodiac 

“Many people have seen the rooster and really like him - so he automatically gets conversations going among people that might not have anything else  in common” said Wilson. Plus part of the appeal obviously is that he’s funny - in an ironic kind of way - while also being a bonafide part of the Guelph art scene. It has a natural appeal that gets people laughing and excited - which helps bring them together. He’s part of our shared history that all of us can enjoy”

“Whether it’s local, national or global, our networks are highly siloed,” said Wilson. “They lack an effective mechanism for coherent leadership and management of the most important issues of our time - including health care, environmental sustainability and the economy”. 

The response to the Covid pandemic is a prime example that has served to wake many people up to the need for a much higher degree of collaboration and effective management at a community, provincial and national level. ‘A proper national outbreak leadership team was never established’ explains Wilson, who for nearly 20 years co-led the federal epidemiology group created to respond to most national-level disease outbreaks in Canada. “The result was the abandonment of nearly all of the established principles of outbreak management”.

As a means to address the gap in network leadership, Novometrix began seven years ago to develop a process to bring groups together that rarely talk - to identify common problems, brainstorm solutions and institute solutions projects and scale them. The process, known as Community Network Integration, or CNI, combines state-of-the-art business process and social psychology and is run collaboratively under a unique quality management system known as The Box. 

So what’s next for the formidable fowl? “We love him,” said Wilson.”...but he needs to be returned to Guelph so everyone can enjoy him”. Novometrix plans to ‘repatriate’ the rooster to Guelph-Wellington as a community project to raise awareness of the need to collaborate on important issues of common interest. This includes a contest to name and find a permanent home for him - and a sponsorship campaign to support collaborative community initiatives. These include scalable projects in pollinator sustainability, food security, economic resilience, mental health and more. And it doesn't stop there. Novometrix is in discussion with multiple communities across Canada - and globally - interested in  replicating the ‘Guelph-Wellington project.’

 “Guelph is a naturally collaborative community,” said Wilson. [Collaboration] is one of our greatest strengths, and now we are becoming a national and global hub for collaborative solutions”.

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