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10 Takeaways from the Canadian Open Dialogue Forum

Friday, April 8, 2016

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

Last week I attended the Canadian Open Dialogue Forum (See: Defining Open Dialogue); by all accounts the event was well run, interesting and full of familiar faces. On Wednesday Kent reflected a bit of what he heard at the Forum (See: Culture and Risk) and I wanted to do the same.

1. The show of political support was impressive

There were two federal ministers and six provincial ministers from Ontario in attendance; all of whom seemed to be saying the right things.


2. Ontario has a new public engagement framework

Check it out here.

3. 'Evergreen Policy' was something that was discussed, albeit not enough

There was a lot of discussion about being open by default but far less discussion about evergreen policy; the notion that times change and with them so should our policy approaches. Today's policies may not serve tomorrows interests and we need to do more work in updating our approaches wherever they are falling behind; ideally this is a shift from reactive (we've fallen behind!) to proactive (we know the world is changing, let's get out in front of it!). This is something I've touched on previously and see it as akin to the cradle-to-cradle design (See: Now What -- circa 2010 -- and Redux: Vizualizing the Entire Treasury Board Policy Suite).

4. Corporate interests can but do not necessarily always align with the public interest
Or at least that was my observation. My tweet got some traction so it got put to the panel, one of whom "disagreed with the premise of my question" (which wasn't really a question) and proceeded to frame a response in terms of consumer interests, to which I simply replied that I disagreed with the premise of the answer. Another panellist said that it was an old school view (which was the first time I've ever been called such). That said, on day two a corporate voice managed to frame up the discussion better than it was framed on day one and was speaking in terms of high tides raising all boats.

5. The logic of crowdsourcing and the logic of policy making are difficult to reconcile

Intuitively I think most people can see this makes sense, but this paper is probably worth a look if you want to know more.

6. The technology may be sufficiently developed to realize open government but our capacity to wield that technology, less so

We likely need to work on capacity, within government and civil society writ large.

7. Transparency and openness are deeply political issues

We need to stop pretending otherwise.

8. Public service anonymity needs a rethink in the digital era

See: On Partisanship and Anonymity in the Internet Era.

9. We are dealing with a lot of legacy issues that are built into our current institutions

If we started from scratch today, would the machinery of government look the same as it does today? Probably not. We need to be thinking hard about how to get from here to there, but maybe we should start with a discussion about what there actually looks like.

10. The technology worked well

Kudos to the Publivate team for integrating a crowdsourcing platform into a live event in a seamless way, I haven't seen it done well before and they knocked it out of the park.

Bonus: Tweetable tweet goes to ... Ailish Campbell