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Public service renewal: the weekly round-up

Monday, August 29, 2011
Here's the usual round up of good stuff worth reading from last week. Enjoy!

Here at home:

International:

Social media

This post has been a collaborative effort from Lee-Anne Peluk and Nicholas Charney.You can check out Lee-Anne's blog "In the Shuffle" at www.leeannepeluk.wordpress.com


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Serving the Public like Jack Did

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sadly this week saw the passing of Jack Layton, leader of the official opposition and the New Democratic Party of Canada.

I learned of the news Monday morning via a text message from my wife on the commute into work. I immediately pulled the car over and saw the news breaking on Twitter. I managed to keep it together until the middle of the afternoon when I read Jack's letter to Canadians, at which point the flood gates opened.

The news cut closer to the bone than I had anticipated, and like many Canadians, regardless of politics, I had a deep respect for Jack and his lifelong commitment to serving Canadians.

As I sat back and raised a glass to Jack's life I thought what better way to honour his memory than to write about what public servants can learn from a man who dedicated his life to public service.


Inspire others

Often people are without hope, time wears them down, they become accustomed to how things are, forgetting how things could be. Bring them hope, bring them energy, and if nothing else inspire them to see that change is possible.


Build consensus

We let ourselves fall into traps and adversarial models of how things tend to be, but that is the low road, have the courage and determination to build consensus on a daily basis. Some days you may feel like you have barely moved the bar, but your determination will eventually lead you to gains that no one could have ever anticipated.


Don't let them tell you it can't be done

I can't count the amount of times I've been told that it can't be done, it may be the single biggest tragedy of public service. Don't listen to them, take a lesson from Jack, it can almost always be done. Finally when it can't, go down fighting because time will honour you.


Above all remember ...

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton



Originally published by Nick Charney at cpsrenewal.ca
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Public service renewal: the weekly round-up

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 15 – 19, 2011

Thought of the week: Your ideas are not obvious to other people. That’s why you need to share them.

Watch of the week: a WW2-era Disney cartoon, All Together Now. This historically avant-garde collaboration between the National Film Board of Canada and Walt Disney Studios aimed to get more Canadians to invest in war bonds. (And, truly, there’s just something about seeing the Disney gang march up and down in front of an animated version of the Canadian Parliament buildings. Priceless.)


Crowd sourcing:

Maybe I am behind the times, but this week I discovered a service called Servio, with an 80,000+ strong workforce where you can crowd source your content needs. Its software carves a given task into microscopically small pieces, and then farms it out to their community of workers, who get paid piecemeal to complete each section of the task.

So, what happens when a journalist crowd sources out background research? Is hiring a team of freelance reporters to research, report, and write a story on your behalf an ethical violation?


Social:


It may be trite to say, but laughing is good for you:


This post has been a collaborative effort from Lee-Anne Peluk and Nicholas Charney.You can check out Lee-Anne's blog "In the Shuffle" at www.leeannepeluk.wordpress.com



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This is why we can't have nice things (in government)

Friday, August 19, 2011
Last year I wrote about how enterprises could leverage tablet applications like Flipboard in order to change how senior leaders received and actioned their business intelligence.

After sitting on the idea for a year I established bureaucrati.ca as a foothold to try to help bring the app to market (note I'm pivoting on the role of the site, it will now be an outlet for creative writing).

Trying to get an app built meant hitting the streets and talking to a number of established mobile development companies and start ups, it also meant stumbling
on what I think is one of the core reasons why we can't have nice things in government.


As for the reason? Well it's painfully simple.

Plainly put, companies that make beautiful things don't consider enterprise solutions as a viable market. The CEOs I spoke with all cited four reasons why they have steered their businesses clear of enterprise solutions:

  1. they tend to require a bunch of integration work (work that is often different from organization to organization and rooted in its own technological evolution);
  2. integration work is difficult to scope in advance and thus hard to determine what would constitute an appropriate resource level (and thus the price of the contract);
  3. dealing with enterprises often entails hiring a sales guy to do the grunt work. The people I met with are skilled developers and shrewd business people, they don't want to be out shilling their wares; they want to build applications and services that are so beautiful and useful that they sell themselves.
  4. No one wants to invest any effort into the procurement process. If you aren't a big vendor you simply don't have the resources, expertise or established relationships to successfully navigate the world of procurement.

While many of us on the inside already know that there are procurement challenges (ever try to procure a Mac?) I find the fact that the innovators in the private sector feel as though the procurement process itself is so broken that they can easily afford to purposely ignore the entire public sector. In the midst of the establishment of a new Shared Services Canada, I can only hope that those at the helm take a good hard look at the details around how we procure IT resources, because it may just be one of the reasons why we can't have nice things in government.




Originally published by Nick Charney at cpsrenewal.ca
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Public service renewal: the weekly round-up

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 8 - 12, 2011

It’s Monday, folks. Here’s the weekly.


If you read one thing this week, it should be this post from the Snarky Optimist. It’s a thoughtful, well-written, and eye-opening response (in part) to my previous post: I would’ve eaten glass to get this job. I love a good dialogue, and Chelsea’s post illustrates that the story of contractors in the federal government is a complicated one, with many equally valid perspectives.

This week in cuts:


Social goodies:


Relationships and Cultural change


And let’s end with a laugh, shall we?



This post has been a collaborative effort from
Lee-Anne Peluk and Nicholas Charney
. You can check out Lee-Anne's blog "In the Shuffle" at www.leeannepeluk.wordpress.com


Tactics for Change: Isolate and Influence

Friday, August 12, 2011
Go after the key influencers in your department and make them champions, unofficial or otherwise. You know who these people are: when they speak others listen. -- Scheming Virtuously: A Handbook for Public Servants

If you are trying to marshal support for organizational change, you obviously need a strategy, but you also need tactics. While strategies will differ from organization to organization, tactics can often be adopted across a different strategies.

In short, I can't write your change management strategy, but I can offer you some advice on what tactics to consider when trying to marshal support.


Sequence is important

When shopping for support you should approach the early adopters first while isolating the roadblocks, keeping the latter out of the equation for as long as possible.


Do the leg work

Find the people in your organization that see the value of what you are doing. Moreover, try to get a few of the key influencers who can help bring people down off the fence or exert pressure on those typically saying nay.


Move in on the Naysayers

Once you have a critical mass, approach the naysayers. Show them what you are proposing, show them your support base, and ask for their participation. The more pressure you can bring to bear on the naysayers, the less likely they are to continue saying nay.


Use the fear of being last

Often no one wants to be first in the public sector, but even more often, no one wants to be last.


For more tactics for public sector change, download the newly digitally remastered

Originally published by Nick Charney at cpsrenewal.ca

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Public service renewal: the weekly round-up

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 1 – 5, 2011

Ola, all. Here’s a collection of links worth clicking from last week. Enjoy!


Cuts and new combinations:



The weekly mish-mash:



Students:

Last week, the #w2p community had a networking event for students. On that note, here’re a few interesting student perspectives:


This post has been a collaborative effort from Lee-Anne Peluk and Nicholas Charney
. You can check out Lee-Anne's blog "In the Shuffle" at www.leeannepeluk.wordpress.com



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I would've eaten glass to get this job

Friends, I am currently on vacation in beautiful New Brunswick, but instead of leaving you hanging, here's a guest post by a fellow public servant blogger whose writing caught my eye. Enjoy.

I would've eaten glass to get this job

Moving to the bureaucracy from the world of NGOs, for me, meant serious growing pains.

I really, really wanted a job in the public service. I would have eaten glass in sharp, jagged pieces to make my casual position a permanent job -- if my manager would've asked. I did whatever I was told, even if it seemed like nonsense or a time-waster. I had 90 days to prove I could fit in with the best of them, so I never wanted to rock the boat, in case the door closed on my one foot holding it open.

I know that there are a lot of other people that want a job in the public service, but settle for contract work. In fact, over $1 billion a year is spent on contracts. It’s been called a “shadow public service” – the vast, growing reserve of temporary help. I'm sure that given the choice, any of these contractors would prefer to work with government, rather than alongside it.

It's only natural; it's a good job. I get paid well. I get to think about issues of national importance, and I don't have to worry every single day about the next contract or assignment. And more people want it than can possibly have it.

Maybe you'd be inclined to argue that it's this hunger that drives innovation. I'd say you should watch this awesome little video by Dan Pink. Hunger and innovation do not go hand-in-hand.

When you join any group, there's a period of socialization; the public service is no different. I had to learn "the ways." But the way I see it, this process of socialization is the very place where public service renewal needs to begin. Being on contract essentially silences you because you want that contract to be renewed -- and this is the starting point for a good number of public servants, who then carry this attitude throughout their careers.

The impact of this is insidious. Besides the silencing, it leaves behind a legacy of contradictions:

  • We are constantly in competition for jobs, but supposed to work as a team
  • Many are 'advisors' who don't actually provide advice, but instead perform highly administrative tasks
  • Our system for hiring is supposed to be transparent and fair, but to who? Job applications seem to end up in a black hole. (I applied for over 30 jobs in the PS and I never got called for one of them, until, of course, I had public service experience. Which I could only get by becoming -- you guessed it -- a contractor)

There are some shops in my department that are run completely through the use of contractors. They get the job done, sure. But we need a public service that does more than uphold the status quo.

It's frustrating and enough to make one depressed, and depressed we are -- we have 11,100 public servants collecting disability benefits right now. And headlines have been popping up aplenty in recent years that depression among Canada’s public servants is the country’s biggest public health crisis.

To various degrees, we all behave in a way that we perceive to be expected of us. That happens in all sectors, and it's useful sometimes, too. But my point is that we will continue to pursue public service renewal at only the surface level as long as we continue to perpetuate this cycle of "insiders" and "outsiders."

As long as there are people who are willing to eat glass to get in, there will be a culture that lacks innovation. They will do what they are told, rather than trying to come up with innovative ideas. We must pursue this type of cultural change to get at the heart of renewal.

We need strong, rational leadership that charts an unwavering course forward. We need to think collectively instead of in silos and tribes. We need to make changes in our HR processes; we need to find a way to promote teamwork, downplay hierarchy, and make the #GoC one big team.

Now that'd be really worth eating glass over.

-- Lee-Anne Peluk




Originally published by Nick Charney at cpsrenewal.ca
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