Public sector leaders face an environment characterized by complexity, shifting demographics and ever greater demands for transparency, accountability and value for money – and environment that can only be managed by a “culture of change.”
Louise Levonian, ADM Finance and chair of the Sub-Committee on Public Service Engagement, told an audience at CGE’s Leadership Summit on Tuesday that “the new normal is constant change,” and leaders can either let it happen or take charge.
In an address on the importance of Blueprint 2020, she noted the steps that have been taken to ensure public service-wide engagement, from the creation of a tiger team to a larger virtual team and champions in every department. “Blueprint 202 has created a space where employees can be heard,” she said of the reform effort.
Although she cautioned that “transformation in a large organizations usually fails because the culture doesn’t change,” that is unlikely to be the case today. Andrew Treusch, Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency, said that change would “happen on its own initiative with or without senior leadership…the challenge is whether leaders lead the parade or are left behind by it.”
“You, leaders,” he said to the 170 attendees, “you need to lead this.”
Treusch also noted the role of technology and young professionals in this transformation, saying the two “come hand in hand.”
Public organizations will have to shift from closed and rigid to open and agile, he said, developing new ways of recognizing and addressing problems. The challenge, however, might be adapting quickly enough to ensure organizations remain attractive places to work for new and existing talent.
Inspector Kevin Leahy of the RCMP and Chair of the National Managers’ Community said the Blueprint 2020 initiative will modernize what managers do and how they do it. That will be especially true if organizations are to become employers of choice. He suggested that would mean a new focus on wellness and talent management.
No meaningful change can happen, he said, “if the management cadre is not involved. We all have a role in this.”