For me, one of my favourite parts revolved around the APEX logo (APEX is the organization that represents all the executives of the Canadian Federal Public Service). I asked the conference attendees to take off their name badges, look at them, and tell me what they saw. Most saw it right away. The Apex logo.
Symbols matter. So, when you look at this symbol what do you see?
After a day and a half of hearing speaker after speaker talk about creating a public service that was more open, more innovative and less hierarchical, I wanted to draw their attention to the symbol the Public Service Executives use to portray themselves to the world.
Could one imagine a symbol that conveys hierarchy, control, and dominance more effectively? (I love that it is not just a pyramid, but that its angled so you have to look up at it). “Were on top! Guess where you are?”
Do we want a different public service? It will take a lot of work and changing symbols won’t get us there. But it is a start.
At this point I like to briefly say thank you to Michel Smith for inviting me to talk – he invited me to come and speak and I thanked him by dismantling his organizations logo… he deserves better.
So, in that spirit, I’d like to propose an idea based on something the president of Scandinavian Airlines once talked about in an article he wrote (where, I don’t remember). After much reflection he flipped his organizational chart upside down so as to place him at the bottom, understanding that his role was to support everybody above him, so they could, in turn, support the front-line workers who actually touch the customers. Maybe we could flip the APEX logo on its head? Can we imagine a public service executive that thinks the same way?
Now, if only we could come up with a better acronym… Any suggestions? (Remember it has to work in French and English).