Friday, August 20, 2010


I've got to warn you, I am about to do two things I told myself I never would.

First, I'm going to start by breaking the cardinal rule of blogging as a public servant: don't ever talk about the particulars of your workplace.

Second, well, let's just say if I explained it now, it would give too much away.

The Only Constant is Change

Some of you may question what is important enough to prompt me to speak to the specifics of my workplace. Last week, I got some bad news. Last week I learned that my boss is leaving.

If there is one thing I have learned in my time in the public service it is this: you cannot overstate the importance of good leadership.

The Team

The team I work in comprises only 8 people, including my boss.

She is a Director General (DG), we are her DGO (Director General's Office); and unlike typical DGOs, we don't have anyone reporting up into us. We are the closest thing in the public sector I have seen to a SWAT team:

  1. Lightweight (mobilize quickly)
  2. Proximate to senior leadership
  3. Experienced in our areas (unique skill sets and backgrounds)
  4. Clear on our responsibilities
  5. Able to think ahead and anticipate issues
  6. Surrounded by an enabling culture
  7. Results driven
  8. Handpicked by the boss

The worst part is that despite another few months under her leadership, the team is already starting to go its separate ways. I don't expect the next iteration to look the same as the last.

It gets worse: we are being moved under a Director (read: getting heavier, losing proximity to senior leadership) who is yet to be determined (read: unclear responsibilities and culture) and Director General who is also yet to be determined (read: double jeopardy).

In short, the entire unit is imploding, and quite frankly I'm pretty upset about it. It affects me personally, but also I think this is a huge blow for the public sector in general.

We are losing the closest thing I have ever come to a results oriented workplace in the public sector.

We are losing the closest thing I have ever come to an innovation lab in the public sector.

We are losing proof that a small and flexible unit, properly managed, can be highly effective.

It's Personal

When my boss told me she was leaving it was a complete system shock. I forced out the word “congratulations”, but inside a small part of me died.

She was an integral part of the work I was putting forward; she was one of the designated champions; she, at least in my opinion was the strongest voice at the table. Without her, the likelihood of success for the work I am about to undertake drops dramatically.

That drop makes me think twice about staying in my current role.

There, I just broke the second rule – the one I wasn't going to tell you about at the beginning of this diatribe: self-doubt.

I doubt my ability to be successful in my current role because one of the most critical elements for success is being removed from the equation and replaced with an unknown.

Worst Conclusion Ever

I suppose I am supposed to conclude with something definitive, be it positive or negative about the future of my work, but I can't.

For the first time in a long while, I am left speechless.

[image credit: TheGiantVermin]

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