Quote of the week
“Real leaders don’t create followers. They create new leaders.”
– Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada
Wayne Wouters spoke at the APEX Symposium yesterday, and reiterated two themes from his recent report to the Prime Minister: the public service is changing, and as leaders we have a responsibility to make that change happen better.
He warned the audience of 700-odd federal executives that the changes to Canadian society are outpacing the transformation of the public service. To drive home the point, and reflecting the current preoccupation with deficit reduction, he said that the public service can’t measure success simply by meeting fiscal targets but must go further and reshape itself to meet the expectations of a changing world.
He conceded that in the short-term it will not be business as usual. Managers’ immediate goal must be to work with staff to maintain morale and productivity.
Regarding the now infamous web of rules, he conceded that many were made by officials in response to political concerns. He said that public sector managers need to look inward to determine what rules are really important and which ones can be dropped to allow innovation.
Looking to the future, he said that the public sector must become more productive. Noting that experts have long warned that Canada is losing competitive advantage to the U.S., he scolded that the public service itself is not efficient and is therefore part of the problem.
As an example, he noted that as lead times for decision making get shorter, the public service will need to figure out how it can use human capital more efficiently. He implied that this will mean moving away from our slow hierarchical decision-making models to ones that are more agile and adaptable to immediate needs.
The conference wraps up today.