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Embracing Authenticity Means Embracing Complexity

Friday, July 5, 2013
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney


Today I wanted to focus on the connection between authenticity and complexity but before jumping to the meat of it I wanted to recap how we got here. Whether you've noticed or not, we've been deliberately walking you down a very deliberate path recently:
So here's the rub

If we are going to embrace greater authenticity than we must also be willing to embrace greater complexity; or as Ashleigh put it:
If we disallow public servants to embody their authenticity by insisting on facelessness, we are taking away the critical factor of connection that allows human beings to find and create meaning. Creating spaces that function solely on technical objectivity and risk aversion ... we numb our institutional nervous system with a false anaesthetic that makes it incredibly difficult for public servants to exercise compassion and holistic understanding. And the problems we face today require and deserve the full force talents of courageous, compassionate, wholehearted people.
Which is precisely what I take to be the meaning of fearless advice: courage, compassion, and wholeheartedness, not just with our political masters but with each other.

The connection to public policy

The complexity that authenticity creates in our interpersonal relationships and the friction between that malleable authenticity and our rigid organizational structures is not only palpable but also serves as a fair proxy for what we should expect as we enter more authentic discussions about pressing public policy issues. This is precisely what Simpson gets to in his book and can easily be extended to a number of other public policy challenges.

Where does that leave us?

Given what I've outlined above, our course of action seems fairly clear. From where I sit, I think we ought to wholeheartedly embrace the richness of complexity in both our interpersonal relationships and the policy solutions we pursue while telling the right stories today with a view to making them usable tomorrow.

My hope is that you agree with me, my fear is that you don't.