This year is proving to be an interesting one for all of us working in and with the governments across the country. On top of the inexorable and unrelenting pressures government executives face in carrying out their daily policy, regulatory and operational roles, this year we will see even more challenges caused by other factors. In particular, at the Federal level, the Trudeau government has just reached the two-year mark of their mandate, and without a doubt, there will be heightened expectations and pressure on departments and staff to deliver on commitments.
In some jurisdictions such as Ontario, 2018 will be a year of elections, and the preparation that goes into transition planning will be a top priority. Also, it’s fair to state that 2018 may well be a pivotal year for civil service leadership. It will either be the year where we “round the corner” and position civil service organizations as the digital world of the future by starting to live up to the open government expectations of citizens or be left behind.
In this edition of CGE, I sat down with Michael Wernick the Federal Clerk of the Privy Council to discuss these very issues. Mr. Wernick reflects back on 2017, Canada’s 150th, and spoke about the challenges ahead. It is clear to me that the Federal Public Service is in good hands under Mr. Wernick’s clear-eyed and thoughtful leadership. His understanding of the critical role our professional, non-partisan civil service has played throughout the history of our county, its values and evolution, and the important role it will play in the future comes from his deep experience as a public servant.
With an eye to the future, in this issue also, I spoke with Canada’s CIO Alex Benay, who has been leading the charge to truly transform the way the Federal Government works by creating a new open digital template and mindset. His role is certainly not one for the faint of heart and many of our readers are watching his work carefully and with high expectations. Certainly, from my perspective, Alex is a refreshing and inspiring leader with vision that appears fearless and energized in his engagement within the Federal system, with service providers and citizens.
Over the past several years, governments around the world have been trying to find ways to nurture and grow Social Enterprises. The importance of this sector and the associated social and policy innovation have been seen as a critical pathway to addressing some of society’s wicked problems by fundamentally binding together the interests of the private, not-for-profit and public sectors. Many jurisdictions have established policy labs and think tanks to address the policy, program, incentives and legislative implications in this field, and in this edition of CGE, Peter Stoyko gives us a “visual primer” on Social Enterprise. It is a very helpful infographic
for those who get lost in the jargon.
And on the topic of jargon, Timothy Grayson provides his opinion on the misuse of the term “transformation” in Public Service circles and why its ubiquitous use and confusion with basic concepts of change may mask the real implications of moving government to a digital platform. Yet another misused term that has, according to Andrew Graham, in some cases become a catch-all management cliché is “resilience.” In his Readings Brief column, Andrew cuts through the jargon and gives a list of some of the real attributes of the resilient organization.
I’m sure like many of you, there have been points in my career where I have felt close to burnout. Well, in this issue of the “Leader’s Bookshelf” Harvey Schachter reviews three books that speak to the real need for leaders to take a hard look at their performance and the importance of taking time to pause, reflect and refresh. Also for public sector leaders, Conway Fraser reminds us of that old war-time axiom “loose lips sink ships,” the current day risk of the private conversation that gets overheard, and the implications of this on our work as public servants.
Of course, we are also joined by regular columnists Jeffrey Roy, John Wilkins and Lori Turnbull who provide their insights and wisdom.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out that this issue of CGE is our first using our new longer format, designed to bring you the magazine in a way that is more interesting and useful. We hope you like the new look at feel of CGE, and as always, I welcome your direct feedback and ideas for content.
To view this issue, please click on the image below or go to: https://canadiangovernmentexecutive.ca/dig/24_01/
Canadian Government Executive – Volume 24 – Issue 01