Friday, February 27, 2009

Round Up: February 27

It's been a busy time for me in the last little while so here is an overdue roundup for your reading pleasure.

Should Public Servants Blog?

There has been some back and forth about whether or not public servants should blog. It started with this post by Laura Wesley. Then Etienne posted this response, but make sure you read the comments in the original post for a comment from Doug Bastien.


Etienne decided on a very simple way to promote GCPEDIA, while Doug has provided some more of the back story of GCPEDIA. (and don't forget the GCPEDIA challenge, our patently obvious attempt to prompt you to migrate to and play in GCPEDIA)

On Websites

Peter has a nifty little post on the irrelevant corporate (or government) website.

Main Stream Media

  1. Fewer rules, more risk needed in PS (which is MSM coverage of the release of the PM's Advisory Committee’s report Achieving Results: Accountability and Action)
  2. PS faces major test (note Dr. Gilles Paquet's reference to scheming virtuously)
  3. Feds ponder sale of assets
  4. Foreign Affairs violating disclosure laws: experts

On Onboarding

Happy to h/t to @DGTweets for tweeting us this link: Onboarding How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time. I am not going to say a whole lot about it other then, Etienne, I am looking at you right now.

On My Own Experience in Alberta This Week

I just wanted to thank the Alberta Federal Council for inviting me out to speak, for everyone for participating and for sharing their stories with me. I will post a proper follow up later. I met some great people while I was out there and hopefully they walked away from my presentations with something they can use in their own organizations or in their own careers.

Cheers for now.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Update: February 22

Hello Everybody,

Just a friendly reminder that I am off to Calgary and Edmonton to speak at the Evolving Public Service and You Conference(s). Needless to say I am super stoked about the opportunity to meet some of my regional colleagues, listen to their stories, and of course spread the Scheming Virtuously meme.

Since I am gone most of the week, I doubt I will be posting anything this week, that includes a weekly column, unless of course I am up for writing one on the plan ride back... which knowing me, is a definite possibility.

You may be able to catch me on twitter a bit while I am gone, but given that I am speaking 4 times in two days it might be fleeting.

Cheers, and send me your good karma, because I would love to pass it on to our colleagues out West.

- Nick Charney

Friday, February 20, 2009 Weekly Column: The GCPEDIA Challenge

As part of our continued efforts to drive public servants to GCPEDIA. I would like to simply highlight some of the articles that either need your attention or ones that you should attune to in GCPEDIA.

(NB: you MUST be behind the GoC firewall to play)

Needs Your Attention

@dbhume has put out the call for people to help him craft his paper, Why GCPEDIA Matters and What it Means for Senior Leadership. Being able to point to the paper as an example of a collaborative cross departmental initiative will obviously bolster its efficacy.

The Young Professionals Community has been updated (h/t to those of you who helped contribute). There is now information there on how to start a group and some ideas on events/activities to try. Please build on it.

We would love if you would make a contribution to our paper, Scheming Virtuously.

Check These Out

Interested in new technologies in government? Why not take a look at the Applying Leading Edge Technology Working Group?

The Green Citizenship Network gives you all the info you need on carpooling in the NCR, this is something that could undoubtedly be applied to other regions.

The Web 2 Communications Community always puts on an interesting event and is worth adding to your watchlist.

... and if you are ever looking for a search engine beyond Google, check out the massive Search Engine List.

Naturally, feel free to make your own suggestions via the comments.

The Challenge

The challenge is simple:

Step 1: Write your next document in GCPEDIA.

Step 2: Email me or tweet me the link to the article. I will compile a list of articles currently being written and in need of collaboration and post them on the blog.

Step 3: Invite your team to review your note in GCPEDIA, make it clear that you will only be accepting input there, and that they should feel free to edit the article as they see fit.

Step 4: Invite other people you know who may have valuable input or strong editing skills to review the note in GCPEDIA.

Step 5: Present the note to whomever it was addressed and specifically indicate that the note was a collaborative effort using GCPEDIA and list the contributors and what areas or departments they work in (if they are different then your own).

Step 6: Gauge reaction and report back to us here on the experience. We’ll compile a weekly that shares your collective experiences.

Caveat: Offer to help anyone who is unfamiliar with GCPEDIA, and then show them the basics, and explain its potential.

The Prize

I don’t have much to offer in the way of prizes to motivate you to use new collaborative work tools (e.g. GCPEDIA). What I can do is offer the winner the chance to lead their team towards a more open and collaborative workplace.

Oh wait everyone who takes us up on the GCPEDIA challenge gets that!

Best I can do is offer the best report back a beverage of their choosing at a location of their choosing at a time and place TBD.

Final h/t to @dbhume for creatively instigating the GCPEDIA Challenge. If you have an idea worth spreading here on the blog, please get in touch with us, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage public servants.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update: February 19

First of all if you are a reader of this blog and using Linkedin then please connect with me. There is a button on the right side bar, or you can simply click here.

Second, our last weekly earned us some comments so you should go back and check them out.

With regard to the comments raised, I just wanted to say that if anything my post was not supposed to be a diatribe against the development program per se (in fact it changed considerably from it's first iteration, mostly thanks to Mike's guidance).

It was meant to provoke you to do one of two things:

  1. Respond by providing evidence of why the program they are in was beneficial or motivating
  2. Push your development program into a more innovative space.

I suppose that in a small way I am trying to make amends for falling victim to the herd mentality when I was helping out on the design and implementation of development programs in the past. To be fair, I knew a lot less then than I do now.

If you haven't already, I would encourage you to read Etienne Laliberte's follow up, entitled: Leadership in a Culture of Compliance.

I found some of the quotations he references about adaptive vs innovative workers to be very insightful, my own personal favorite:

Organizations become adaptive (or innovative) mainly because people leave or stay according to whether the organization suits their personality. This leads to more entrenched positions, adaptive organizations becoming more adaptive and vice versa. More adaptive styles reduce the range of responses available to the organization and lead to it becoming less flexible in its search for solutions, with the dangers this implies in a world of conflicting and rapidly changing pressures.
If you didn't catch it, you can check out the #cpsr links (those that would make up the round up if I had time to do one this week) in you browser by clicking here, or in your RSS reader by clicking here. Furthermore you can do this at anytime by using the buttons on the top of new left hand sidebar. (Hint, there are some there right now, including some comments made by Wayne Wouters of TBS re: efficiency)

See you tomorrow when we drop the Weekly. This week's column: The GCPEDIA Challenge.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Update: February 14

In my continued efforts to make this site both wickedly cool and uber-functional, I would like to inform you that if you want quicker access to the links that usually make the round ups I usually tweet them well before posting the round up. For those of you already on twitter, you are already getting this in real time. Unfortunately the rest of you usually have to wait for me to pull a round up together.

So here is my nifty little idea: I will start using hashtags to label all of my tweets (and retweets) that have links relevant to public service renewal with the hastag #cpsr (these are the links that end up in the round ups).

I would also like to encourage all of my tweeps out to also label there tweets (when appropriate) with the hashtag #cpsr so they end up in the results. Furthermore, if you tweeps do it, I wont have to RT it.

In sum you can get the quickest updates re: links #cpsr from me @nickcharney (and hopefully others) by either using your web browser (via or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

Moreover if you look at the new left sidebar, you will find some sleek looking permanent links to both of these options.

Finally, I usually like to leave the weekly column as the first post you will see when you hit the blog with your Monday morning coffee, but its family day Monday and I wanted to get this update out. So, don't forget to check out last week's column. Either by clicking here, or just scrolling down.


Friday, February 13, 2009 Weekly Column: The Development of Leadership

I'm sure that most of us have heard the adage that the undergraduate degree is the new high school diploma. The growth in post secondary education has been tremendous. I personally spent seven years at two institutions earning two degrees.

I think that one of the effects of being in school for a prolonged period of time is that people become accustomed to its normative framework and to the structured progression. It is my experience that new post-secondary recruits are often unsure of themselves when they enter the public service. Naturally, they are drawn to something structured that can fill that comfort and progression void. Think about it: they have yearly evaluations, built-in promotions, and assessments against standardized criteria.

Development programs within the public service embody these characteristics and we often see these programs being dangled as bait to recruit new hires and retain then once they’re in. I know that we've spoken at great length about some of our reservations about development programs in the past. But what follows are some new thoughts that occurred to me at a recent PPX event on retaining young talent having just finished listening to Seth Godin's Tribes. Now if you have read or listened to Tribes you will undoubtedly connect what I am saying to what Seth Godin presents, I am simply applying his framework to the public service and its development programs.

Through Seth’s eyes, the problem with development programs is that they do not necessarily produce leaders and innovators. In effect they reward and perpetuate herd mentality and produce predictable outcomes.

Before you get all up in arms, let me (and Seth) explain.

Leaders and innovators typically lead and innovate despite the status quo, not in support of it. Yet, the best a development program can do is provide employees with the skills that have been determined to be important in the past and in the immediate present. In essence, development programs are cyclical in that they support and reinforce the status quo, creating predictability and producing (process and rule) followers.

Now, it is not my intent to simply bash development programs, but I do want you to think about the implications of development programs vis-à-vis facilitating leadership. At the PPX event I attended it was widely accepted by the participants that both development programs and competitive processes reward a candidate's ability to follow instructions, not necessarily their ability to be daring, to lead, or to innovate. One participant even said that she was very concerned about the prospect of working for a manager who was quickly promoted because they excelled at thinking inside the box.

Speaking now from my own personal experience, my most rewarding experiences in my academic career were the ones that happened outside of class, the sidebar conversations, the late-night debates in the local pub, or engaging the contrarian piece of research purposely left off the course syllabus.

Moreover, the most successful people I know today aren’t necessarily the ones who breezed through the academic and technical requirements of their programs, but the ones who faced (and overcame) adversity along the way. They are the ones who were willing to take a risk, to challenge themselves, to write a paper that flew in the face of the established order. They refused to write or present that which was expected of them simply because it was expected of them. Instead they chose to forge ahead, to try something new, to challenge authority figures on something they said, rather than take it as a given.

This is how innovation in the government works, Seth would say that if it isn’t met with resistance from the institution, then chances are it isn’t innovative. True innovation, upsets the established order and successful creative instigation (or, in our vernacular, scheming virtuously) requires tenacity.

In fact KP commented on this very blog that:

“I know many high potential and exceptional leaders who have never been part of a leadership program; and not all participants in these programs have been I am not sure that we need centrally run development programs...why isn't everyone just developing leaders?”

So, what am I saying?

First, it is my contention that (as KP stated above) employees do not need to be in a development program to lead.

Second, it is also my contention that opportunities to lead are most likely more numerous outside development programs where there are fewer restrictions.

Third, I hypothesize that that leaders and innovators tend to be drawn to where opportunity congregates, in this case outside development programs.

I assume that by now I have offended some of you, at least those of you currently in development programs who consider yourselves to be the leaders and/or innovators of the future, and for that I don't apologize.


Because I truly believe that you should be leading and innovating now, not preparing for the role in future.

Honestly, ask yourself some simple questions.

Does your development program provide you with opportunities to lead and innovate? Does it encourage you to make your own opportunities or does its mandate restrict you to a preordained set of activities through which you must progress? Is it a blank sheet that says fill me up with your most innovative and creative insights, your tenacity, and your willingness to fail, or is it a riskless grocery list chocked full of checkboxes? Does the graduation from the program give you something it doesn’t give anyone else who has also been through it?

It may be comfy and cozy, it may provide you with that tiered progression and a sense of what to expect over the next few years, but given the questions above, does your development program really meet your needs?

Are you busy preparing to be a leader of tomorrow with the competencies of today? Or are you willing to lead today, building the competencies of the future?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Round Up: February 11

Here is an interesting account of why Twitter works so well and why to tweet or not to tweet is a decision making process. To be honest I was playing around in Twitter but quickly saw its potential and I have already had the good fortune to meet many people, to have conversations with them, to get links from them, and be asked to lend a hand in activities that are of interest to me. There is even some talk of Twitter being to Google what Google was to AOL.

I would encourage you all to check out twitter yourself.
Maybe you could consider creating your own social media strategy? If you need some help you can always read this post or this post, both c/o Chris Brogan. We have already written here at length about the usefulness of a behind the firewall twitter service (such as yammer).

Etienne has posted a series of blogs chalked full of links for your viewing pleasure.

In my attempts to learn more about social media usage in Canada I came across this great tool from Forrester.

Peter Smith has some interesting points to make about innovation in the public sector, complete with a great video.

Big h/t to dbhume for this great article on how Cisco has rebuilt itself into one of the most innovative companies today.

If you are looking for some innovation right here within the GoC, look no further then the Privacy Commissioner's Blog and their video contest.

Canadian Government Executive Magazine is looking to engage youth via their online forums, the latest question they asked is: Why did you join the PS?


Ps - I made some slight modifications to the website, so if you are subscribing by RSS it might be worth just taking a look every now and again.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Round up: February 7th (Yeah that's right a Saturday Roundup!)

First of all I would just like to give a h/t to Laura who pointed us at this podcast featuring Seth Godin on how the internet is changing leadership.

While I got a lot out of the podcast, if I had to break it down to five simple statements it would look something like this:

  1. People don't line up to follow defend the status quo, they line up to follow people who make change.
  2. People aren't leaders because they are charismatic, they are charismatic because they are leaders.
  3. Leaders need to secure enough in their future to make things happen but isn't so entangled with the religion of the status quo (e.g. bureaucratic tendency for risk aversion) that they are afraid to do something new.
  4. Leaders need to be humble enough to recognize that connecting people and identifying opportunities is more important then recognition.
  5. Shake things up now, ask permission later because very few people get fired for creative instigation (aka virtuous scheming).

The podcast was enough to prompt me to downloaded Seth's audio-book Tribes (which is available for free download here) and will give it a whirl despite Etienne's review, also you can see some of Laura's thoughts here.

Second, you may or may not notice that we now have a new favicon for the site. Ironically enough I checked my site from my work and my department blocks images from the site I am using to host the image, so if you are behind the same firewall as I am, you don't get to see it!

Third, here is a link to the GCPEDIA summary of the You and the Evolving Public Service Conference, where I am delivering a workshop on networking for public servants and the Keynote Address on Scheming Virtuously (Yes, its now a deck!). Mike was invited but couldn't make it.

Info & Links to Share

Colin McKay (Office of the Privacy Commissioner) posted a government job on craigslist (awesome!).

The NCVM has released their First Annual Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on the Status of Visible Minorities in the Federal Public Service

CGEM has published their February issue which includes an article written by Etienne, in fact the entire issue focuses on renewal. I obviously haven't gotten to all of it yet, but I plan to.

The PM has decided to fold the Public Service Agency into Treasury Board; you can read Etienne's take on it here.

News (MSM)

  1. 44% say work interferes with family time (Downturn strains ability to find elusive work-life balance)
  2. Assault on the bureaucrats: Ottawa may be planning civil service wage freeze
  3. When real work disappears, bring on the busywork

  1. If You’re a Government 2.0 Guru, You have no Business in Government 2.0 c/o Techno Sailor
  2. US Air Force Social Engagement Process c/o Peter Smith
  3. Canada Revenue Agency announces YouTube contest c/o Mike Kujawski (Make sure to read the comments, and follow them to the spoof video, where the real 'convo' happened).
  4. Performance Management and Measurement c/o Etienne
  5. Statistics Canada launched a census forum c/o Mike Kujawski
  6. GCPEDIA: Government of Canada gets it when it comes to wikis and open-source c/o Douglas Bastien and/or GCPEDIA update c/o Peter Smith (both make some great points, but the latter post also includes some great tweets by @thornley.
BTW, where was my invite? I am looking at you Doug, Joe, Peter, and even Jeff! I have been in communication with all of you in the last 2 weeks!)

Final Reaction

Doug blogged some advice, namely, do not start a blog about the government of Canada. Which prompted Etienne to respond in kind.

Doug raises some key points and to be honest, my initial advice would be similar - don't start a blog about the government of Canada, not unless you are willing to bare out the (potentially numerous) consequences. I feel for both Etienne who has already, and Doug, who seems to be currently, undergoing rigourous reviews. Something that thus far, Mike and I have been able to avoid.

Etienne - I know we haven't chatted in a while now, sadly both Mike and I have been very busy in both our professional and personal lives, which obviously makes making time for side projects such as this blog more difficult to secure. We may in fact have inadvertently reduced the number of posts on the blog but to be honest, producing the roundups is a difficult and time consuming task given the amount of information we come across in a given week. Consider the size of this round up, the amount of information it shares (e.g. outbound links) and the date on which it is posted and well, I suppose I don't even need to finish the sentence - you understand the commitment well enough. With that said, I hope that all of you find the roundups informative and worthwhile.

Thanks everyone for checking in, today's round up was probably more then you bargained for!

Monday, February 2, 2009

No Updates This Week

My Fellow Public Servants,

I will not be able to post any round ups nor a weekly column this week.

Sadly, my wife's younger brother, CPL Gregory Hudson CAF, was injured in the roadside bomb that claimed the life of his good friend and brother in arms, Sapper Sean Greenfield.

Gregory is recovering and has taken on the responsibility of accompanying Sapper Greenfield's body home for delivery to his family.

My family and I are attending the repatriation of the Sapper Greenfield's body Tuesday at 2pm in Trenton.

Thank you so much for your continued support.

- Nick Charney