We are all street level bureaucrats now

Friday, August 30, 2013
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

Or at least we will be, eventually.

That's the argument Kent made on Wednesday in What We Lost in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood, and it's the argument I want to build on today. But first a quick recap of Kent's line of reasoning.

Street-level bureaucrats have traditionally been those in service delivery or enforcement roles; those whose jobs it is to directly interface with the public on a daily basis. However, as Kent rightly points out, street level bureaucracy is spilling over into the policy world as the civil service loses its monopoly on policy advice. In practice this means a transition to a more open model of policy-making whereby there is greater interaction between policy wonks and civil society. Kent ultimately ends his piece by cautioning us that while it seems to be the right path to go down, it's not necessarily the easiest one.

He's right

I think the road to open policy-making is a difficult path for hierarchical organizations to walk down because open policy-making is a disruptive innovation being introduced in the field of public policy. According to Clay Christensen, disruptive innovations tend to be:
"... technologically straightforward, consisting of off-the-shelf components put together in a product architecture that was often simpler than prior approaches. They offered less of what customers in established markets wanted and so could rarely be initially employed there. They offered a different package of attributes valued only in emerging markets remote from, and unimportant to, the mainstream."

Think about it

What is easier for a citizen to understand and have access to: The Bazaar or the Cathedral (See: The Bazaar World of Fearless Advice 2.0)?  In short, citizens are far more likely to understand and interact in the Bazaar than try to gain access to the Cathedral.

The barriers to entry facing citizens to traditional policy-making processes (the Cathedral) are extremely high. Citizens need to understand the complex relationships between bureaucracies and their web(s) of rules, contend with opaque processes, while disconnecting their input from others who may otherwise share, amplify, or improve it. Those barriers drop significantly in open environments (the Bazaar). But open environments also offer far less advantages to established players and incumbents who understand the current system.

Those who control access to the Cathedral are unlikely to abandon it for the Bazaar as it offers them a different package of attributes that their organizations simply aren't set up to respond to. This is precisely the dilemma that incumbents find themselves in when facing disruptive innovations and precisely why I think open policy-making is (as I mentioned above) the de facto disruptive innovation in the public policy field today.

Disruptive Innovations have a few common characteristics

For starters disruptive innovations are usually seen as a step back; they are often a new application of an old technology, a technology that provides "less for less" initially until it can effectively displace incumbent products or processes.

Does open policy-making stack up?

Or more precisely, does open policy-making provide "less for less" with the potential to improve and scale?


First, open policy-making is less resource intensive in that it doesn't mobilize the full weight of the bureaucratic machine; there is obviously still work to be done but its of a very different nature. I get the sense that convening a discussion, encouraging it as it unfolds, and summarizing the findings into a policy brief is far less onerous than trying to write something that satisfies entrenched interests and subsequently shepherd it through an onerous approvals regime. Obviously these approaches require different skill sets but that is the topic of another discussion altogether (for more on that see: Big data, social media, and the long tail of public policy).

Second, open policy-making offers less. Less structure, less familiar voices, and less emphasis on the incumbents; and as result its likely to be less polished, less bureaucratic and by extension, its recommendations less easy to be implemented (perhaps even less likely, at least in the early adoption phase).

I'm not entirely sure what all this means yet; I'm still trying to reconcile it with a few other threads running through my brain right but I get the sense that if introducing more frequent, faster and lightweight policy briefs that more accurately reflect the views of civil society doesn't disrupt the public policy field, I'm not sure what will.

What We Lost in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
by Kent Aitken RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Kent Aitkentwitter / kentdaitkengovloop / KentAitken

Several observers of Canadian civil society have painted a portrait of increasing centralization of power, over at least the last half-century. And perhaps it is a failure of imagination or thoroughness on my part, but I haven't found anyone aiming to dispel that notion. I'm writing on the premise that it is true, and from the point of view of the bureaucracy, which I believe has lost influence at the national table of leaders.

The rationale for increased centralization tends to be increased efficiency. With information and decision-making power held in one place, it's easier to launch bold initiatives and move an agenda forward. Consultation and consensus is tricky and time-consuming.

Yet there are trends in decentralization. There is increasing recognition that policy expertise exists in a distributed network of networks in NGOs, think tanks, citizen groups, and individuals. This was a major theme at the 2012 IPAC conference, and you see it in open policy initiatives such as the Open Data Policy in the U.S. that anyone can edit on Github. Like, right now.

But this seems like adding insult to injury for the bureaucracy: losing voice at the top, and losing the de facto monopoly on policy advice (see: The Bazaar World of Fearless Advice 2.0). But distributed policy actually represents the best opportunity for reclaiming some of the influence lost at the national table: the key distinction is "at the national table of leaders" and "at the national table. Period." That is, though the bureaucracy will remain a small player at big tables, it'll become the core of a distributed ecosystem of influence in Canada that will only grow in importance.

This is a good thing.

What we lost in the fire, we gain in the flood

What's going to drive this? Complexity and legitimacy leading to increasing public engagement, and technology as a thread running throughout.

We live in a time when we can no longer pretend that issues aren't complex, and decisions predicated on an oversimplified world get called out. When Radio-Canada announced a name change to ICI in June, they suddenly found that they hadn't considered all of the consequences. They walked it back after listeners and journalists expressed incredibly strong feelings about the name, based on complex feelings about identity, tradition, and politics. Broad consultation is a very effective way to figure out how complex an issue really is.

Partially for this reason, and partially because it builds legitimacy for decisions when people feel included, public engagement in policymaking is gaining traction in Canada and around the world. Well, digitally-enabled engagement. Lifelong public servants and politicians that held townhalls, knocked on doors, and wrote letters would probably take issue with the idea of complete novelty, here.

And I actually think that the increased transaction speed technology affords in soliciting opinions will be partially offset by the wrenches that having more voices will throw into an issue. And the fact that some of these voices have bullhorns to turn to, if their ideas aren't respected. Regardless, policy wonks will have a well-networked civil society on their side when synthesizing and submitting policy advice.

There are both dark clouds and silver linings for public participation in democracy, but I don't think there is a countervailing force that can prevent the rise of public engagement in policymaking. As the public's uptake and demand for involvement increases, the bureaucracy will get better at including the public in the policy process, which will increase demand, and voilà: virtuous cycle.

The Ecosystem of Influence

Michael Lipsky argues that "frontline public servants, such as police officers and social workers" are policymakers, as a result of the discretion and autonomy they have in carrying our their jobs. Here's an example: when I was sixteen I got pulled over for speeding, in the gray area between the speed limit and mandatory ticketing. So the options were a warning, or a ticket.

However, the officer ran the license plate and invented a third option: he called his friend about it, instead. My dad. 

With direct interaction with the public, there's a level of influence, and accordingly responsibility, within the leeway available in achieving results. What's going to happen is that far more bureaucrats are going to find themselves in that position, as policy analysts become the face of public engagement in policymaking. Policy is increasingly going to become a frontline activity, and bureaucrats will be able to put their mark, embrace a greater responsibility, and add value. On the ground, in the weeds, with Canadians.

As I said, this is a good thing. But it won't be an easy thing. 

Impossible Conversations - The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerrilla Government

Monday, August 26, 2013
by Tariq PirachaRSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Tariq Pirachatwitter / tariqpirachaGoogle+ / tariqpiracha

The Ethics of Dissent
The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerrilla Government by Rosemary O'Leary came to us perhaps a few months too soon: her second edition is set to come out this fall. I'm not sure what else she would say on the topic other than to outline newer examples of Guerrilla Government. That said, I did find the first edition to be a useful exercise in an examination of the ethical public servant.

O'Leary's (text)book focuses on public servants in the United States who push back against management to do, what they believe to be, the right thing. It is filled primarily with case studies that involve front line workers pitted against senior management, wrestling between process and governance; politics and the public interest.

I found it easy to empathize with the dissenters, the front line workers, the guerrillas and it really isn't surprising that my copy of O'Leary's book is filled with earmarked pages and underlined passages about bureaucratic politics, groupthink and ethical dilemmas.

However, when it comes right down to it, my attention is most strongly drawn to the following question: "Who defines what is ethical?"

In 1988, Dwight Waldo outlined what he believed to be the twelve key ethical obligations of a U.S. public servant. Democracy, the constitution, the bureaucracy, family, religion, are some of the obligations that may pull us one way or another when trying to figure out how best to act in any given situation. They may not all pull at the same time, or with the same severity or intensity, but it is a good wake-up call as to the many pressures on a public servant.

The Values and Ethics Code for the Government of Canada is supposed to serve as a guidepost for public servants as to how they should act. For the most part, the code is open to interpretation and negotiation. 

A good manager will discuss the Code with their employees on its interpretation and applicability, in person or in groups. However, I fear that these kinds of discussions are few and far between and that many organizations may opt for "read this Code and sign it" or "complete this online module" as their way of keeping everyone accountable.

There are many benefits to having group discussions on values, ethics and the obligations of a public servant, but the one that resonates most with me is also captured by O'Leary when she proposes that "Public employees need enough time to understand the totality of the issues they are addressing." They need to appreciate the big picture, and how their role fits into the greater organization. In the absence of understanding, we may continue to see more examples of guerrilla government. Whether you judge that to be a positive or a negative thing, I leave to you.

For those who would dare to discuss the Values and Ethics Code, Waldo's twelve ethical obligations would make a great ice breaker, and if for no other reason, made O'Leary's book worth reading for me.

George Wenzel — "...All public servants make choices every day, and those choices have political ramifications..."
George Wenzel

Is there an underground movement of dissenters in government? Guerrillas who disobey their superiors for the greater good? If so, what motivates them? Is some dissent in the public sector a good thing?

In an amazingly dense but short book, Rosemary O'Leary explores these questions. She uses examples from the environmental policy field in the United States, but the common themes apply to public services worldwide. O'Leary posits that "guerrilla government" is more common than one might think.

Key in the discussion is an exploration of the ethical obligations of public servants. Drawing from the work of Waldo (1988), O'Leary notes that public servants have obligations to the constitution, the laws, the nation or country, democracy, organizational/bureaucratic norms, their profession and professionalism, family and friends, themselves, middle-range collectives (political parties, ethnic groups, unions, etc), the public interest or general welfare, humanity more broadly, and religion/spirituality or God. Not every ethical decision will touch upon all of these obligations, but they all float in the back of every public servant's mind.

A couple key ideas that expanded my understanding of ethics in public service were the notion that public servants are not impartial, non-political actors. All public servants make choices every day, and those choices have political ramifications. A second idea is that dissent is not necessarily a troublesome aspect of public organizations, but rather can be vital to innovation and change. Sometimes it takes a dedicated dissenter to come up with what will be the next great innovative public policy.

At around 120 pages, The Ethics of Dissent should be mandatory reading for new public servants. I know that when I was hired into government I had no idea how many ethical crossroads I would face, nor did I give much thought to their impacts. O'Leary's book has expanded my thinking in this area, and for that I'm grateful.

Nelly Leonidis  — "...Is the recent increase in high-level dissent a signal that something much larger is broken..."
Nelly Leonidis

At the time I was reading the book, the case of Bradley Manning was underway, and Edward Snowden was the daily topic of conversation at work and online. This happy coincidence allowed me to think about the ideas, stories and “lessons” share in through the lens of what is ethical and what is not on a large scale – not only as a civil servant but as a global citizen as well.

I enjoyed the book itself. There were several external concepts introduced in the book that helped frame the dialogue that happened afterwards (for example, what are the ethical obligations that I strongly identify with/abide by – as per Waldo’s Map of ethical obligations).

I found the stories – while interesting – to be repetitive. The topic of environmental activities and eco-social responsibility are usually the go-to example for conversations about what is right in the long run, what is ethical, what is moral, etc. But that restricted the conversation to that field. Many of the stories were over 10 years old, so relating to some of the issues was difficult given that the civil service (rules, regulations, work environment) has changed significantly. Relating to these stories was difficult,  and the absence of recent examples in the book itself will be a limitation to opening up this conversations to different sectors and industries. For example, I would love to see examples from the “global financial institutions’ massive screw up of 2008/09” – were there any guerrillas that tried to effect change before the whole thing went belly up?

I liked the sections that addressed how leaders can spot a guerrilla trend and try to work with challenge agents (yes, I just wrote that. blech). At the very least, they’re conversation starters with those we seek to work alongside, or an attempt to explain what it is we’re doing/feeling.

This book also brought up a few questions that I hadn’t considered before, such as:

- If a middle manager (our favourite “clay layer”..layer), decides to go against the grain due to reasons s/he believe to be right, does his/her decision create a subset of individuals who could be mistaken for defectors. That is, does he have the right to impose his beliefs on his subordinates, and possibly hinder their careers? Does it rationalize away the responsibility if the outcome is positive? Do the subordinates suffer if the outcome is negative?

- Is using the word “dissent” an obstacle in of itself? If you look at things as challenges right at the start, it’s more likely to create complications that didn’t exist before.

- Is the recent increase in high-level dissent (Snowden, Manning, or for example Sylvie Therrien) a signal that something much larger is broken, so an increase in the # of reported acts of “dissent” could mean that the ethical compass is shifting?

- In terms of GoC: Is creating genuine safe spaces one way to spot and handle dissent before it escalates into something larger? This would require re-writing some policies that deal with how we communicate with each other.

- Do current collective agreements allow for the conversations civil servants need to have with managers in the early stages of disgruntlement/dissent?

- Can ADMs/ BluePrint 2020 champions and DMSMPD leads answer the Q on page 105: “What is the value of dissent in organizations and to society as a whole?”

- Is it possible that some people are just dissenters by nature, and will find a reason to revolt anyway? Can you curb the natural appetite of people who are pre-disposed to focusing on the broken parts? 

Kent Aitken — "...What is the appropriate balance of fearless advice and loyal implementation..."
I'd imagine this book reads very differently depending on the lens through which it is viewed. Dr. O'Leary has been told that her mere study of the ethics of dissent is upsetting (the lens there was of duty: i.e, dissent is always wrong). Some may read Dissent as an exploration of the line between duty and morals, some as a guide on how to manage something that is both widespread and a phenomenon, and others, as a playbook for standing up for one's beliefs.

When I hit on interesting concepts, I tried to rotate through the possible lenses. My long story short? There is no simple answer or correct view. When we sat down together to discuss the book, it was clear that there was a lot of grey area, and the need for careful definition of what constituted dissent: as opposed to either irresponsibility on one end, or frank advice on the other.

Before the end of the first chapter O'Leary introduces us to a handful of controversial academic perspectives: Beneviste, who suggests that "politics is never devoid of ideological content" and that it is time to stop feigning neutrality; that public servants should "admit that they are both experts and committed political actors." Another, Lipsky, argues that "street-level [bureaucrats]", due to a degree of discretion and autonomy, are effectively policy-makers in the leeway they have in carrying out their jobs. And the other I found interesting was Waldo, whose map of civil servants' ethical obligations had twelve equally weighted nodes, including laws, public interest, democracy, organizational norms, and so on - which does not necessarily mirror the Values and Ethics code for Canadian bureaucrats.

And so in framing her case studies, O'Leary led me back to questions that are common topics around Canadian civil service circles: what is the appropriate balance of fearless advice and loyal implementation? How ironclad is civil servants' duty of loyalty to the will of the Canadian people, as represented by the decisions of their elected officials?

I found this framing more potent (not necessarily more interesting) than the individual cases. You'd actually need a healthy discussion on each to really pull lessons out, due to the complexity and moral ambiguity of each scenario. I can see why this book works well in an academic setting.

If I finished this book with any key takeaway, it was of the need for far more discussions about values and ethics in the public service. Frank and honest. Codes as written are a starting point, but any effort taken to approach a genuine shared understanding of their nuances and applications will be worthwhile.

John Kenney — "Dissent can manifest itself in numerous ways and can have positive or negative repercussions..."
John Kenney
The dilemma of guerrilla government is truly a public policy issue: There is a need for accountability and control in our government organizations, but that same accountability and control can stifle innovation and positive change. (The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerrilla Government, p. 100)
Picture this*: The head of a government bureaucracy crafts a vision of how the organization must change, now and in the future, in response to increasing issue complexity, interconnectedness and other economic, social, and technological drivers. She engages her employees on what the vision means to them and asks for ideas on how they can adapt the way they work, individually and collectively, to achieve it.

Sadie, an employee with the organization, has been waiting for this moment. "What took them so long?" She's been circumventing hierarchical org structures by tapping into horizontal networks of like-minded colleagues for years. They've been leveraging technology to make connections, organize meet-ups, share and promote info and ideas on innovative goings-on in the public and private spheres. She's shared some what-she-felt-to-be-feasible solutions to perceived problems with her managers, but they typically went nowhere for a host of reasons, some of which were never communicated to her. That didn't stop her though. She continued to exploit opportunities to build her case for change, sometimes going against her managers' wishes. She’ll continue to do so too…under the radar if necessary. She wants fundamental, whole-scale change in the way the organization operates and delivers its mandate.
Sometimes [guerrillas] fail to see the big picture, promoting policies that may not be compatible with the system as a whole. (p. 6)
Bert, a manager, is less enthused. This is not the first “renewal” initiative he's seen or heard of. "Here we go again." Plus, the employee engagement strategy has opened up the floodgates for any and every idea. Who's supposed to manage all this change, not to mention the expectations? He bets that most of the employees pushing the “private sector fads” wouldn't propose them if they had some public sector management experience. The public sector is unique in his view. Change should be iterative, not disruptive. He serves at his supervisor's request and all the way up the line. Clear lines of accountability and message control are necessary to manage risks. Bert admits to not being up to speed on social media technologies but doesn't see how they relate to his work anyway. In his mind, promoting ideas and practices that management feels are not appropriate can be a waste of time, and even reckless. Bert's been chatting informally with like-minded managers and staff about toning down the reform message despite the call for bold, innovative proposals.
In the day-to-day grind of public service, managers' overwhelming preoccupation with what comes across their desks may ignore another more fundamental reality. When we fail to see the whole picture, when we neglect the perspective of open systems, of wholeness and connectedness, and of open communications, we only see one side of the dissent issue: It is a "problem"; they are a "pain," "a thorn in my side," "an annoyance to deal with.” (pp. 118-119)
Both employees and managers can fail to see the big picture.

Dissent can manifest itself in numerous ways and can have positive or negative repercussions in public sector organizations. Attempts to contain it or shut it down altogether can backfire by forcing guerrillas (e.g. disgruntled employees, innovators, idealists, insubordinates, policy entrepreneurs), out of the picture, possibly to reappear unexpectedly later on. Maybe they'll make everything better like a Valencia filter. Or maybe they'll sabotage your intended outcome like a photobomb. You won't know unless they're in focus.

There are guerrillas in our midst. Engage them. Listen. Debate ideas. Learn.

Take a big picture.

*Disclaimer: Sadie, Bert, and the situation described above are fictitious. Also, in real life, there are managers who are open to new ways of working and change. There are employees who are content with the status quo. If you can relate to Sadie or Bert and/or your organization just so happens to be going through a visioning exercise, I highly recommend you join the conversation.

Next up: The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath by Nicco Mele. Interested in taking part? Send us an email, leave a comment, send us a tweet. You know the drill.

What Blueprint 2020 Proves Thus Far

Friday, August 23, 2013
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

While the exercise is ongoing, 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:

6. Collaboration
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.

The Line Between Visionary and Delusional

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

by Kent Aitken RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Kent Aitkentwitter / kentdaitkengovloop / KentAitken

Where's the line between "Visionary" and "Delusional"?

This is a question Richard Pietro, a cofounder of Citizenbridge*, posed over Twitter last month.

Let's imagine that you, reader, are cooking up an idea, and you're wondering whether it's brilliant or stupid. Amazing, or impossible. (Notwithstanding the actual link between genius and madness**.)

But how accurate is your perception of the size of the realm of possibility? I'm sure you can think of examples where your view of the world missed the mark of reality. I certainly can. And the psychology and behavioural economics literature is rife with examples of it.

So here's the question: knowing that we most definitely have a margin of error, what is the impact if you're overestimating the breadth of "possible"?

If you're underestimating?

*Citizenbridge is a not-for-profit that takes government data and remixes it on a platform suited for discussion and debate, with the goal of increasing the level of dialogue between elected officials and the citizens they represent.

**Heck, where to start? One large analysis found "an 87 percent rate of psychiatric disorders in eminent poets and a 77 percent rates in eminent fiction writers." Far in excess of other fields. Or, a study of 70,000 Swedish teens found that those that scored highest on intelligence tests were the most likely to later develop bipolar disorder. Or, Salvador Dali: "There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad."

Through the Looking Glass: How Google Glass Could Radically Change Your Organization

Friday, August 16, 2013
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

A couple of weeks ago I read an article in Rolling Stone entitled "The Future of Movies: How Will Google Glass Change Filmmaking?". While it was obviously focused on the how Glass will impact the film industry, reading it sparked an idea about how organizations could lever Glass to better understand their day-to-day operations.

The idea is simple
  1. Grab a junior employee, a low level executive, a mid level executive and the head of the agency; ensure they are all a part of the same reporting structure;
  2. Equip each one with Google Glass;
  3. Have them film their entire work day on a day where they typically interact with one another; 
  4. Sit them all in a room together as all four videos simultaneously in a split screen; and
  5. Engage them in an honest and professionally facilitated conversation as the movies roll. 

What might you see? Perfect alignment? Fodder for a revamp of Yes, Minister? Or something in between? 

In fairness, it likely varies from organization to organization. That said, I get the sense that information asymmetries is likely to be a key finding of any such experimentation. 

What do you think? 

Is your organization courageous, desperate, or driven enough to peer through looking glass?

And if so, what do you think they would find?