|by Nick Charney|
Blueprint 2020 has already done something very important: it has clearly shown that the Civil Service can benefit from - or dare I say desperately needs - a reliable, universally accessible, and focused outlet for its cognitive surplus. Moreover, the combination of GCPedia and GCconnex have proven best suited to the task of soliciting widespread participation as neither impose significant barriers to entry or traditional restraints to participation (hierarchy, organizational boundaries, geography, etc). It is also worth noting that while the participation thus far has predominantly been via GCConnex, GCPedia could easily facilitate the co-creation of the final report and could see significant uptake should the work go in that direction.
That said, it's actually symbiotic relationship
The fact that Blueprint 2020 is driving a tremendous amount of engagement on these platforms is a god send to the platform's administrators, overseers and evangelists. In fact, Blueprint 2020 may prove to be the first truly compelling case for their more mainstream adoption. The new life blood Blueprint has injected into these tools - at a time where their future is still being decided - is a boon to a tool set whose value has been upheld and defended by early adopters despite the fact that the tools themselves continue to lack a clearly articulated focus.
This point is likely to cause a stir, and I'm open to debate on the matter, but collaboration for collaboration's sake, I would argue, isn't a compelling enough reason. If it was, there would be wider adoption, more robust support, and firmer governance all backed by a larger budget. I suppose what I am saying is that in my view Blueprint 2020 has given the tool set a more succinct raison d'etre; Blueprint is a case study that hints at its still untapped potential: a dynamic and evolving repository of the cognitive surplus of the civil service. So while the explosive growth in usage since Blueprint's launch is encouraging, I have to wonder about what happens to all that engagement after the exercise is concluded. My gut tells me that in the absence of something as equally as compelling as Blueprint, the bulk of the users and their contributions will simply fall off.
Which of course begs the question: How do we build on the momentum rather than lose it?
While the tools will likely be prominently featured in the final report as a key enabler, there is an opportunity to do considerably more with Blueprint to further ongoing collaboration. For example, we could publicly affirm that the cognitive surplus of the civil service is something that ought to be more explicitly harnessed and that centrally provided collaboration tools - GCpedia, GCconnex, and whatever evolves there from - are the de facto outlet for that surplus. That said, an affirmation of this sort only goes so far.
Who among us hasn't quoted a Clerk's report to justify a proposed approach?
If we are truly serious about pooling our cognitive surplus to solve real problems by levering centrally accessible collaboration tools, then we ought to take more demonstrable steps to enshrine that ethos directly into the Values and Ethic Code of the Public Sector. We could achieve this by including a statement under the sub-heading of "Expected Behaviours" that read:
Public Servants shall demonstrate a commitment to collaboration by:
6.1. Exercising their professional responsibility to direct their cognitive surplus towards joint projects that further the interests of the Crown at every opportunity.
6.2. Using centrally provided collaborative platforms with a view to working openly with their colleagues to create value, put forth ideas, and posit solutions to the organization's (GOC) most pressing problems regardless of which institution they work for, what position in the hierarchy they occupy, and where they are geographically.
Not only would such a statement explicitly make collaboration the default value it would also make the code of Values and Ethics more tangible, more relevant, and more in line with the vision that Blueprint 2020 actually articulates.