Tag Archives: Bureaucracy

IPAC Conference

Today I’m doing a panel on Networks and Networking in the Public Service at “Beyond Bureaucracy” a conference hosted by the Toronto Regional branch of IPAC.

As the description states “Informal channels of communication are vital networks that allow people to socialize and collaborate and, arguably, work more efficiently. Technology can make these networks indispensable, as shown by user-driven wikis and social networking sites like Facebook. ”

True and true. And then here’s a kicker. These networks exist whether organizations sanction them or not. Although not perfect, social networking software at least brings old hidden networks out into the open and at best helps subject them to other societal norms (think gender parity and racial diversity). Telling employees they can’t use facebook doesn’t destroy the network. It just forces it somewhere else, somewhere where you have even less visibility into how it manifests itself, who it benefits and how it grows.

In essence you strengthen old hidden networks. That thing we use to call the old boys club.

Public Service Reform: Starting at the Apex

So I’ve just sent APEX a copy of my speech – I actually never write out my speeches so I literally had to go back through it in my head – anyway I will post here soon as well.

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).

Spare a Public Service Story?

APEX, or the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (phew! that was a mouthful) has asked me to speak at their 2007 Annual Symposium, which has been themed – Public Service Matters: Says Who? They’ve entitle my talk “Does the Public Service Matter to Generation Y?”

My work from last year has lead me to conclude that while it remains unclear if the Public Service has a hard time attracting recruits, it definitely has a hard time retaining people. For example, when the public service sent out a survey to new hires to assess job satisfaction, almost 10% of respondents had already departed. More importantly, there is clearly a generational divide… new hires under 30 say they are more likely to leave than those over 30 (37% vs 22%).One piece I intend to talk about is how Gen Yers do care about public service, they just don’t necessarily want to be part of the public service. A decision made easier given all the options they now have to directly engage on issues they care about.I’d love to hear from other Gen Yers out there both in and outside of the public service. If you are so inclined please send me your story about why you love working in the public service, or why you left/dislike it. Please feel free to post it, or if you’d prefer to, you can email me directly.[tags]APEX, Government, Bureaucracy[/tags]