On the cusp of a dramatic, generational change - Canadian Government Executive
Change ManagementDevelopmentLeadershipTransformation
December 11, 2017

On the cusp of a dramatic, generational change

On a recent visit to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to sit down with some of Canada’s top public service executives to find out what’s on their mind and to discuss CGE.

These meetings reinforced what I’ve been hearing from executives and managers at all levels across the country. Namely, with the rapid onset of disruptive technologies, and the ever-increasing digital expectations of citizens and ambitious political agendas, we are on the cusp of a dramatic, generational change, the likes of which we haven’t encountered since the use of the Internet shaped public services decades ago.

The anticipation of this change leaves us with questions; are we able to lead this change or will it run over us? Are we fully prepared to engage citizens in a deeper way using new technology? How can we sustain a professional, multi-generational workforce through this journey? How will open government shape the processes and fundamental role that civil servants play in society?

Very exciting to say the least.

In this issue, we explore these challenges with Marcia Nelson, Alberta’s Deputy Minister of the Executive Council, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Public Service. Marcia and I had the opportunity to talk in Charlottetown, at the annual Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s (IPAC) Annual Meeting.

Of these challenges, perhaps the most pressing issue of our time for public servants across the country is how to truly engage with Indigenous communities in keeping with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action. Catherine McQuarrie offers her perspective on this based on the work that IPAC is doing to facilitate dialogue across the country. At the core of this is the need for meaningful relationships and Catherine discusses the values and approaches that public servants should consider as a foundation for their engagement with Indigenous communities.

The types of change that public service organizations will encounter over the coming years will inevitably strain our organizations, structures, and leadership capacity. Maria David Evans, a new contributor to CGE, offers her view on this organizational transformation and employee engagement. She highlights some of those leadership characteristics necessary for success in a challenging public service environment where the landscape is dominated by the need for innovation. Maria urges us to lift our heads a bit and look for answers in cross-sectoral partnerships and new relationships.

With this backdrop of change, public sector management will be front and center. Expectations for continuous improvement, a focus on results and accountability, administrative excellence and organizational performance will be the norm. Craig Szelestowski offers us five ways to improve our strategic planning that can be employed in any size or organization. Marje Aksli reinforces the need for better use of Project Management methodologies to get the most from Results-Based Management initiatives.

Regular contributor Jeffrey Roy offers his views on the effects of AI on Government Services and the need for Government to get its internal operational house in order as a precondition for tackling much more significant service transformation. In her “Final Word” Lori Turnbull discusses what seems to be never-ending public consternation over the application of ethics rules and guidelines and perception on acceptable behaviour for government and public-sector actors.

Indeed, it is an exciting time with all of this change in the air that gives us, at CGE, much to explore. To assist CGE in its quest to bring you the most relevant and useful content, I have asked some very distinguished public servants and academics to come together to form a new CGE Editorial Advisory Board. Their role will be to provide me, and the whole CGE team, with guidance and to ensure we stay committed to our core mission of Public Sector Excellence.

Our Dashboard this month announces our new Editorial Advisory Board and needless-to-say, I am absolutely delighted to have them working with the CGE team. I would also like to pass on my appreciation to those that have served in the past and to all those who have worked with CGE, you all remain an integral part of the CGE family.

Click on the image below to read this issue.

Canadian Government Executive – Volume 23 – Issue 08

About this author

George Ross

George Ross was the Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Resources, Deputy Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Deputy Minister of Consumer Services, Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation, and also held a number of ADM positions within the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Research and Innovation. He also served in the role of National President of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and currently as the CEO and principal consultant of George Arthur Ross and Associates Inc. George is also an active volunteer who serves on several boards. George is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Government Executive.

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