Quote of the week
“How can we prepare the next generation of public officials for the digital world?”
The mantra on technology and change is becoming tiresome, I’m sure, for many public servants: technology is forcing change, government needs to respond, public servants need to catch up and use technology to work differently.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Given the complexity of the world public servants live in, it’s a fair question to ask: How can we can move forward and prepare ourselves for the changed world of government driven by digital technologies and the digital economy?
One way is to understand the power of the digital drivers.”Digital” means much more than smartphones and mobile technology, although both are changing the way citizens deal with government. It also means data in volumes we can’t imagine, shared in ways that make our processes and our IT systems antiquated.
The next challenge is to assess what this will mean for public sector organizations. This is the hard one, because it’s fair to say that we don’t really know for sure. What we do know is that it is speeding up decision-making, forcing policy discussions out into the open, forcing us to question our regulatory systems, and making us think about how to balance the sharing of data against privacy requirements.
And public servants need to understand that this change is not about a total restructuring of the Westminster system. I had the privilege of interviewing the new Clerk of the Privy Council for the February edition of Canadian Government Executive, and she reminded me that as we respond to change, we must remember to preserve public sector values that are fundamental to the institution.
For public sector leaders, I believe the challenge is not simply to respond to change; it is to anticipate its impact on the organization and to transform what they can while preparing for possible impacts down the road.
A Digital Governance Forum being held January 28 and 29 in Ottawa will ask what public servants can do to both respond to, and promote, the needed change brought on by digital technologies.
The event is part of a SSHRC grant led by the Institute on Governance and is sponsored by Adobe, Industry Canada, CN, Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Accenture and Canadians Connected. CGE is a conference partner.
To find out more, and to register, go to www.digital-governance.ca.