Friday, October 17, 2008 Weekly: We've Got Nothing, AKA This Is Not A Column.

Loyal readers (if you exist) I just want to let you know that this is not a column... in fact you should just stop reading it right now.

Every week we strive to provide you with material that focuses around a single subject matter.

This week is somewhat different.

It is about 10:30 Thursday night and Mike (and his wife) just left my (and my wife's) place. They came over for dinner and instead of generating a column this week (Mike is on vacation, both from his official and unofficial duties), we simply talked shop over dinner.

It was a refreshing change to our normal interactions and, to be honest, it is a skill that all public servants must master. Given the absence of a formal column this weekend, and the context of this (less formal undertaking) I have a couple of things to share.

First, the inside scoop on our blog. While I tend to write the first drafts of our columns, Mike supplements them substantially, acts as a sounding board, provides in depth editing, and keeps my more radical comments in check. However, if you saw the exchanges between us (before we sanitize them for the blog) you would also notice that he is a glass half empty kinda guy, with a sharp wit whose is quick to point out any irony within the Public Service. We work seamlessly together through the 'interweb' without every having worked together in a formal setting. He is an incredibly valuable part of this collaborative undertaking, and this space wouldn't exist without him.

That being said, we are two very different people with completely different goals in government. In this sense I suppose we are fairly representative of the next generation of Public Servants -- tech savvy, educated and diverse. (FYI, among other things, we are currently working on a deck right now that uses our commonalities and differences to explain the complexity of the "renewal message", I haven't run this by Mike yet, but I would like to call it, What the F**k is Public Service Renewal (Regular readers of the blog should understand the inference).

I suppose it goes without saying that given that this is the 11th hour, and Mike, probably to his chagrin, has not seen this or provided his edits and insights, I really only want to share one thing here today.

At one point our dinner conversation's focus turned to development programs. The general consensus around the table was that once you peel back the "opportunity for promotion without competition" facade of development programs, you quickly realize that tackling the getting promoted without a competition can be more time intensive then simply applying for a competition. Furthermore, once you understand the competitive process, it really isn't that complicated. The cruel irony here is that development programs are generally considered under the rubric of retention strategies. Yet, providing a development program that can easily be bypassed (time-wise) by a competition is actually an impediment to retention, essentially making development programs some sort of quagmire.

Our conversation flowed naturally from the subject of development programs to trying to judge the speed at which we should be trying to climb the corporate ladder. FYI - there was no consensus here. We have different goals, come from different backgrounds, and work for different departments. From our conversations with others, we know that this is a concern for many newer public servants. Furthermore, this is not an issue that can easily be addressed in a very general sense (remember, variance of goals, backgrounds and departments).

Given the demographics, the opportunities for new recruits (competent or otherwise) will most likely come fast and furious. Some will take the quick promotions, some wont.

Here is one scenario...

Those that move up quickly are more likely to bottom out more quickly (i.e. they will not be able to deliver on their responsibilities because they lack the requisite experience base). While those that choose to move more slowly will be less susceptible to bottoming out quickly (i.e. their experience base will be larger and they will have more to draw on). Here's the kicker -- those who choose to move more quickly may be managing those who choose to move more slowly.

Talk about issues ... (remember that is just one scenario ...)

I could go on, but it's late, this isn't a column, and I don't have a good sound board.

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