“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
— Helen Keller
The National Managers’ Community (NMC) is a national network of federal public service managers spanning all departments, agencies, regions and territories. The NMC is a voice on the interests and needs of managers, as demonstrated recently by the cross-Canada Blueprint 2020 dialogue process.
The NMC is a place for managers to connect with and learn from one another through events such as the annual managers’ forum and by building communities of practice in engagement and coaching. Since its inception 14 years ago, the NMC has supported innovation, creativity and collaboration amongst managers and our partners in pursuit of our goal of excellence in public service.
It has long been recognized in the federal public service that the two cornerstones for how we approach our business are efficiency and effectiveness. Collaboration should be the third. It is through a collaborative approach that we can reduce duplication of efforts and leverage scarce resources. In the Pacific region, this was most recently demonstrated in the delivery of a Social Media Learning Day.
A partnership was struck among four horizontal communities: the Pacific Federal Communications’ Council (PFCC), Governexx (the Federal Youth Network’s presence in the BC region), the Pacific Federal Council (PFC) and NMC. The partners recognized a common learning need and committed to designing and delivering a one-day event aimed at educating federal public servants on the use of social media in a government context.
The government of Canada has demonstrated a sustained commitment to optimizing the use of social media technologies, with many departments engaging on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. In spite of initiatives like the Deputy Minister’s Committee on Social Media, Policy Ignite, and Blueprint 2020, internal consultation within our communities revealed that many federal workers felt less than prepared to make use of these tools.
Consulting within our communities highlighted a number of key issues. The majority of respondents had questions about the rules and policies governing the use of these tools in both official and personal capacities. Many also had doubts about the value of these tools for business purposes. Still others wanted to know how these tools actually worked. The design team worked to respond to as many of the stated needs as possible and, on January 15, approximately 175 federal public service employees gathered for a day of collective learning in Vancouver.
The morning plenary began with a keynote address from Steve Dotto, a Vancouver-based tech expert. Dotto opened participants’ eyes to the forces generating change in the workplace due to social media, and provided potentially life-altering perspectives and strategies, reminding us how lifelong learning helps each generation to understand the next. By the end of the talk, the audience better understood what to do to ensure that the change is not ultimately devastating. Dotto presented social media as a place, not a thing. Since the Canadians we serve are in the social media place, public servants have a responsibility to be there as well.
Paola Rossell from the Treasury Board Secretariat introduced the audience to existing and anticipated policy instruments with the view to clarifying the rules. She screened Transport Canada’s video, Social Media at Work, which is a good summary of the most important points to keep in mind when using social media both personally and professionally.
To round out the morning, Canadian Heritage Regional executive director, Patrick Tobin, hosted a panel discussion with Dotto, Rossell, Jodi LeBlanc (Veterans Affairs) and Roy Nader (Canada Revenue Agency). The panel talked about initiatives like Policy Ignite, the Deputy Minister’s Committee on Policy Innovation and Web 2.0 Practitioners Group (#W2P), and explored questions such as “what is the risk of not engaging in social media professionally?” and, “what do you do if you make a mistake online?”
Continuing in the afternoon, participants were able to attend two of six interactive workshops covering a range of social media topics: Building a Social Media Strategy, Social Media Risk Management, All About the GoC’s Social Media Tools, Who Are You Online?, Social Media Solutions to Innovation Challenges and Social Media Basics.
Collaboration works. It simply does: more perspective, resources and creativity combined with shared responsibility and success.
Needs-driven agenda: learning needs revealed through internal consultations allowed us to shape the day accordingly.
Learning is a process – not a day. Participant feedback reflected that we had started on the right path, but that the work is far from over. The design team is examining ways to continue peer-based, informal learning opportunities designed to build on the momentum created back in January. If we are to be a knowledge-based organization, a sustained commitment to learning is necessary.