To adapt to the forces of change reshaping our world and to serve Canadians better, the public service must have a shared vision of what it should look like in the decades ahead. The Blueprint 2020 initiative is exactly that: a shared vision that takes a step beyond the conceptual by actively encouraging public servants to contribute their ideas for how this vision can be turned into a concrete reality. While public service renewal efforts rarely make it to the pessimists’ shortlist of organizational solutions, change-makers are intrigued and energized by such calls-to-action.
One such pessimistic appraisal of Blueprint 2020 came from John Wilkins, associate director with the Public Management Program at York University, and was published in his recent Canadian Government Executive blog posting. We agree with Mr. Wilkins’ statement that authentic public service renewal “…calls for a bottom-up approach, top-level commitment, and continuous improvement.” However, we disagree with his assessment of the current engagement efforts underway for this initiative. Deputy heads have already been tasked with posting interim reports on their Blueprint 2020 departmental engagement efforts by October 15th. Wayne Wouters himself, Clerk of the Privy Council, publicly committed to creating a Blueprint 2020 action plan at the recent IPAC National Conference in Montreal. In this same forum, he reported that the engagement process for the Blueprint 2020 vision had already elicited some very exciting new ideas. Of course, Blueprint 2020 is not ‘an-anything-goes’ proposition. Mr. Wouters cautioned that we need to be honest about our limitations. He emphasized that, “Some action items may require broader coordination or further approvals, and as public servants, we advise, but we do not decide. Decision-making remains the prerogative of elected officials – but if we do our jobs right, those decisions can be informed by our views, ideas and expertise.”
Here at the Federal Youth Network (FYN), we have noticed that our keenest members are already integrating Blueprint 2020 conversations and initiatives into their network activities. The Clerk’s website (www.clerk.gc.ca) shows how everyone can take part in this important conversation about the future of the Public Service. The options include an embedded feedback form, e-mail, and for those with access to the government of Canada network, on GCpedia and GCconnex. You can even tweet the Clerk using the #GC2020 hashtag! The approach has been successful: Blueprint 2020 activity on GC 2.0 tools has skyrocketed from the launch of the initiative in June to September. A case in point: The GCconnex group membership increased from 292 to 2, 275 in this time period.
Employee-driven implementation of innovative ideas is no news to the private sector, but has not been given a fair chance in the public sector, until Blueprint 2020. In fact, according to Mr. Wouters’ informal discussion at the Blueprint 2020 launch in June, we are the only public service in the Commonwealth that has launched such a bold initiative. Some would say that initiatives like Blueprint 2020, which harness the brain power of its own people, are all the more necessary in times of budget cuts and downsizing.
Speaking of brain power, Blueprint 2020 has very bright and dedicated public servants championing its cause. Louise Levonian, Chair of the Board of Management and the Public Service Renewal Sub-Committee on Public Service Engagement, shared her personal view of the objectives of this initiative at IPAC: “Good organizations plan and prepare for the future. Great organizations engage their employees to strive to reach their full potential. We know that employee engagement leads to improved job satisfaction, lower absenteeism and a high performing workforce. This is part of what the Blueprint 2020 engagement process seeks to achieve.”
We also would like to underline the great leadership shown by Louise Levonian and other deputies like Andrew Treusch, who shared the IPAC Blueprint 2020 Round Table with Louise, throughout the entire Blueprint 2020 process. By their engaging words and exemplary actions, they have proven to be strong role models for every public servant.
As a grassroots network in its own right, FYN recognizes that what makes an initiative ‘grassroots’ is not who came up with an idea but who is running with it. We are committed to upholding and supporting the tradition of employee engagement and employee-driven positive change.
Participation – translated into individual action – is the building block for authentic change, whether in the public or private sectors. Pointing the finger and waiting for someone else to fix it is undeniably passé. Let’s dig deeper into the possibilities that Blueprint 2020 offers us. Let’s pay attention to unconventional and brilliant ways that can transform the present to a better future.